Do you remember how excited you were the first time you rode your bike without your dad holding on to the seat? How about the day you came home waving your brand new drivers’ licence for all to see? It felt good, didn’t it? There is nothing like the sense of pride that comes from overcoming a hurdle and mastering a brand new skill. And we never outgrow that thrill. Yes, you can teach even the most geriatric of canines a new trick.
How, then, can you tap into that innate love of learning and encourage your employees to tackle and conquer new skills? It’s all about creating and maintaining a corporate culture that promotes, supports, and rewards continuous learning.
Providing employees with learning opportunities not only leads to a better trained workforce, but it also increases morale, fosters innovation, and ramps up employee enthusiasm and motivation. And, as Forbes‘ “Spending on Corporate Training Soars: Employee Capabilities now a Priority” states, high performing companies spend more on training than their counterparts–demonstrating that learning and development does pay off.
Companies across the nation–and the globe–are taking note. According to “Corporate Training: A Greenhouse for Growing Your Own Talent,” American corporations increased their spending on training by 15 percent in 2013, the highest growth rate in seven years, forking out approximately $70 billion. If you aren’t making training a priority, it would seem that you are missing out on a huge opportunity.
What Can You Do?
If you are interested in transforming your company’s culture into one that values professional development and personal growth, there are a few steps that you can take.
- Make it Personal. While there are some skills that all of your employees need to master, each individual also possesses unique talents that you would be wise to hone and put to good use in your company. According to the University of California at Berkeley’s “Motivate Staff to Continue Developing their Skills,” a great starting point is to ask employees to “do an honest assessment of their job responsibilities and determine where they may have skill shortfalls or skills not being fully utilized.” Once these learning needs are identified, you will be able to work with each employee to create a learning plan.
- Make it Doable. Your employees likely have multiple life roles to fill including family, work, social, and community commitments. In order to make it possible for them to embrace learning–and not perceive it as simply another thing on their “to do” list–you need to make it as flexible and user-friendly as possible. Thanks to the plethora of online learning options available, your workers will be able to easily incorporate educational endeavors into their busy schedules and teach their offspring how to ride a bike. “Mobile Devices: The Next Step in Online Learning,” adds that mLearning, a.k.a. “mobile learning,” is a great way to encourage learners to participate and engage more often.
- Reward Desirable Behaviors. The best way to ensure that someone will adopt a behavior as their own is to provide some sort of reward for doing so. This includes rewarding leaders who identify and put in place ways to foster a culture of learning, mentors who work to help their coworkers master and use their news skills on the job, and the learners who successfully achieve the desired level of mastery. You may even wish to reward individuals for coming up with innovative and successful rewards programs.
Fostering a culture of continuous learning creates a win/win situation for everyone. Your company benefits from a more highly skilled and enthusiastic team. And your employees will get to relive the thrill of mastering a new ability.
What methods does your company use to foster a culture of continuous learning?