Employees are the lifeblood of any organization, and it is crucial to provide them with continuous learning and development opportunities in order to engage and retain them. Not only does this create future leaders within your company, but it also helps top performers stay ahead of the curve and continue delivering exceptional results. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of continuous learning and development for employees, as well as discuss some tips for building out a formal Continuous Learning and Development (CL&D) training program unique to your company and employees. CL&D opportunities provide employees with the chance to learn new things, grow their skills, and expand their knowledge base (also called upskilling) throughout their careers.
The Importance of Continuous Learning and Development
A 2022 study by the Pew Research Center[mfn]https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2022/03/09/majority-of-workers-who-quit-a-job-in-2021-cite-low-pay-no-opportunities-for-advancement-feeling-disrespected/[/mfn] found that 63% of respondents said they would leave their current job for one that offered better learning and development opportunities. This is because employees who feel like they are constantly learning and growing are more engaged in their work, and therefore more likely to stay. That same study found that over half the workers who quit due to a reason such as lack of career advancement were able to find a new job at a company that did offer these benefits. This is why CL&D opportunities are crucial if you want a competitive edge in your retention efforts.
In addition to boosting retention, upskilling your top performers creates a pool of internal talent to promote from. When you have a pool of internal talent to promote from, not only does this save you the time and money that would be required to recruit and train someone from the outside, but you’re also more likely to retain top performers. This means a reduction in the costs that come with turnover. It also means you have a solid foundation for your succession planning efforts.
Learning and development also provide your employees with the opportunity to become leaders within your organization. The benefits of developing leadership skills in your employees are countless: they are better able to handle conflict, can provide mentorship and guidance to other employees, and are more likely to stay with the company long-term.
On top of these benefits to the organization, when you provide employees with the chance to learn new things, they feel appreciated and valued. And they become more engaged! They are no longer doing the same thing day in and day out, they are stretching their brains and learning new things, and getting excited about it. This increases loyalty and motivation, which leads to better performance and job satisfaction overall– which is incredibly important when companies everywhere are building attractive Learning & Development initiatives, custom career trajectory plans, and coaching and mentoring. If your company doesn’t begin to offer these types of opportunities, you’re at risk of losing them to another company.
Tips for Building Continuous Learning and Development at Your Organization
So how can you provide learning and development opportunities for your employees? Well, there are a few options. You could offer paid courses or workshops, or invest in e-learning platforms like Udemy, Coursera, or Skillshare. Or you can create your own in-house training and development curricula!
In-house employee training and development is more effective than outsourced methods for a few reasons.
Not only is it completely tailored to your company culture and values, but you also have greater control over the quality and content of the training, and it can be customized to each unique team member and their own professional goals. It can also be tweaked and edited and improved based on the metrics that you track, to ensure you get the biggest ROI for the business and the biggest impact on your employees.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when building continuous learning and development initiatives for your company:
- Create a learning plan – Before you can start designing your training program, you need to have a clear learning plan. This plan will help you determine the goals of your training program and how it will fit into your company’s overall development strategy. Make sure you think about what metrics you want to track for ROI. These metrics can include things like increased productivity, engagement, or customer satisfaction. You may also want to conduct a skills-gap analysis. A skills-gap analysis is where you identify future skills needed in your company and industry and the existing skills with your current employees. This can be done through surveys, performance assessments, questionnaires, and interviews.
- Make it engaging – If you want your employees to actually learn from your training program, you need to make it engaging. No one wants to sit through a boring lecture or read a dry manual. Make sure your training materials are interesting and interactive. Another great way to make it engaging is by making it challenging– If your training program is too easy, employees will get bored quickly. Make sure there are some challenging elements, like quizzes, to keep them alert. This will give them something to strive for and keep their attention focused.
- Make it relevant – Employees will only learn from your training program if they see how it applies to their work and growth potential. Make sure the content of your program is relevant to their job tasks and responsibilities, and their desired career trajectories. An excellent way to do this is to determine cohorts with similar skill gaps, or similar desired career trajectories (which you can identify through Personal Development Plans, or PDPs– I’ll write a post on these soon). Build your curriculum to help your employees meet their own professional goals.
- Make it fun – Learning shouldn’t be all work and no play. Add some fun elements to your program to keep employees motivated. Games, competitions, and prizes can all be great motivators. Other motivators include flexible learning schedules, allowing employees to learn at their own pace, and incorporating team-based learning.
- Provide hands-on support through coaching and mentoring. Don’t leave all the learning to pre-recorded materials and documents, as incredible of resources as they can be. Consider having more experienced team members provide guidance through coaching and mentoring for employees who are looking to improve their skills. This will give them the opportunity to get real-time feedback and grow in their abilities much faster, as well as provide them with a human connection that fosters a sense of belonging. This is especially important for those who are looking to move up in the company, as they need all the help they can get to hone their skills and abilities. By providing them with opportunities to learn and grow, you’re not only investing in their future with the company but also increasing engagement and loyalty.
By following these tips, you can create a continuous learning and development program that will engage and motivate your employees, while helping them meet their professional goals. And remember, an investment in your employee’s development is an investment in your company’s future.