Investing in high-quality, personalized learning content is more important than ever. It not only meets the expectations of modern learners, but also serves as a vital component of any organization’s learning ecosystem.

However, it’s important to remember that personalized learning is not just a box to be checked off, but rather a key driver of career development.

Integrating career development with learning is a powerful way to leverage employees’ motivations for learning.

According to the 2023 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, the top two reasons employees choose to learn are to make progress toward their career goals and stay up to date in their fields.  By aligning learning opportunities with these priorities, organizations can develop a more future-ready workforce, one that regularly adapts to new required skills.

To enhance personalized learning and activate career development, consider these five strategies. These tips are intended to guide your individual approach to development and your organization’s philosophy about learning and growth.

1. Encourage and Empower Learners to Think About Their Career Goals

No matter where employees are in their careers, they will feel more fulfilled in their day-to-day work when they feel a sense of purpose — one that comes from a clear vision of the path ahead, as well as support and encouragement from their manager and organization to pursue their passions and long-term goals.

In many industries, the pace of change and economic uncertainty have made it difficult for employees to feel a sense of ownership and autonomy over their careers. Rapid change can make it challenging to determine the next step, let alone a long-term goal.

However, organizations can support employees by fostering open conversations that acknowledge their unique strengths and help them think about their goals. When training managers have these conversations, employees are empowered to flourish in their roles and take ownership of their career development.

At LinkedIn, we emphasize that every person’s career path is unique, and we help employees understand that they have the power to design their own future. Within the company, employees have numerous pathways to explore based on their skills, goals, interests and experiences. Understanding the versatility of skills and the process for transitioning between teams or departments can clarify these opportunities.

2. Help Learners Understand Career Paths and the Skills Needed to Pursue Them

During career conversations, managers and leaders should provide practical, actionable information to help employees identify transferable skills and explore new growth opportunities. Offering tools and resources will help employees think about how their skills can be transferred and open new possibilities for growth and direction.

Once a career path and upskilling opportunities are identified, managers can help employees develop their own plan that includes both functional skills (such as learning a specific computer program) and human skills (such as communication, critical thinking), tailored to the individual’s learning commitment and needs. For example, providing visual content like videos and eLearning modules or auditory sources such as podcasts and instructor-led courses depending on the learner’s preferences or needs.

Companies and organizations that provide access to resources and encourage development practices can increase participation and drive better results.

3. Give Learners the Time and Space They Need

Your employees are already dedicating significant time and energy to their job responsibilities. Even if you create a personalized development plan that strategically maps out skills for career advancement, it may not be effective if employees feel they don’t have the time or space to learn.

To ensure that learning is seamlessly integrated into employees’ workflows, it’s important to ask for their input on when and how they prefer to learn. Some employees may prefer to devote a full day or week per year or quarter to learning, while others may prefer a less structured approach that aligns with project needs. Incorporating employee feedback into development plans and learning and development (L&D) initiatives can increase engagement and drive better outcomes.

To promote participation in L&D initiatives, companies can establish clear goals for the number of hours employees should dedicate to learning new skills on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. By communicating these expectations broadly and celebrating the results of employees prioritizing their career development, employees will be more motivated to learn and grow.

At LinkedIn, we set aside dedicated “InDays” each month for employees to invest in themselves, the company or the world. During these days, they can engage with learning content and pursue their development goals and career growth. Additionally, we host an annual career week with programming that encourages employees to invest in themselves and their career growth.

4. Be a Role Model for Learning and Dreaming Big

While we’ve discussed what leaders can do to support employee learning and growth, it’s equally important for leaders to lead by example.

There is nothing more inspiring than a manager who demonstrates the value of investing time in learning, shares their own growth journey and generously offers relevant resources and insights. A gesture like recommending a book or podcast can set employees on a path to rewarding career development.

Another valuable trait for leaders to model is a growth mindset. By showing employees that it’s okay to experiment, make mistakes and learn from failure, managers can create a safe and supportive environment for growth. This culture encourages new skill development, learning through projects or pursuing new roles and fosters true transformation and drives positive business outcomes. 

5. Celebrate Moments of Career Growth, Both Big and Small

It’s important to broaden our definition of success in career development beyond just promotions. Every step forward, whether it’s learning a new skill, taking on a new role, collaborating effectively with others in a cross-functional team, or expanding one’s personal network should be celebrated.

Recognizing and rewarding employees for both big and small achievements can boost their motivation and morale and benefit your entire department or company. Encouragement, recognition and incentives, such as a shoutout at an all-hands meeting, or a simple acknowledgement from a manager, can go a long way in making employees feel valued. Be sure to keep in mind ways to celebrate your own forward momentum and your employees’ progress, whether measured in inches or leaps.

Conclusion

Remember, investing in high-quality, personalized learning content is crucial for meeting the expectations of modern learners and for building a strong learning ecosystem within any organization. By integrating career development with learning, organizations can leverage employees’ motivations for learning and create a more future-ready workforce.

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