The most important skill an employee can have is not the ability to use one specific tool or complete one specific task, but the capacity for continuous learning and improvement. In an age when working professionals (Millennials, in particular) place a high value on professional development and career growth, learning and development (L&D) professionals are tasked with providing the most effective and engaging workplace development programs.
Delivering training and development programs alone isn’t enough — learning and career development needs to be embedded into an employee’s workflow. By doing so, learners will be less likely to see being reskilled or upskilled as a “separate” part of their job and, instead, will see it as just as important as other components of their work. When this happens, an organization can meet its goals faster as employees will be focused on learning the skills they need to do their jobs better and that align with the company’s objectives.
Read on for four key considerations as you think about how to make learning part of your organization’s ethos.
1. Close the expectation gap.
Employees are increasingly coming into roles with more growth and learning expectations than ever before. Stagnation within an organization is a major red flag to workers hungry for new skills and new challenges.
Smart leaders must communicate clearly with current and prospective employees about any gaps that exist between their current learning offerings and employee appetite. By closing this expectation gap and embedding learning into the flow of work, employers can have a better understanding of not only what employees want to learn, but also the methods by which they most enjoy learning.
2. Make learning part of employees’ work-based objectives.
When learning is baked into what success looks like in any given role, the transition to becoming a true learning organization begins. Employees today are tired of time-consuming and generic training courses that only partially apply to their roles.
Instead, organizations should clarify internally how the training sessions they are offering map back to the overall goals of the organization and their own flow of work. Not only will this help the organization operate more effectively, but it will also leave employees with a feeling of purpose when participating in a training program.
Moreso, by ensuring learning is personalized and tailored to each individual employee, employees can more quickly apply what they’ve learned on the job.
3. Allow opportunities for people to learn together.
Community-based learning is a valuable tool for workplace development programs, as learners can connect easily with one another and share new ideas and best practices. As a result, learning becomes more of a group activity — like collaborating on a client project — and seen as part of the job. According to one source, “Proponents of community-based generally argue that [learners] will be more interested in the subjects and concepts being taught, and they will be more inspired to learn, if academic study is connected to concepts, issues, and contexts that are more familiar, understandable, accessible, or personally relevant to them.”
4. Provide “just-in-time” learning.
Gone are the days of courses that lack flexibility in scheduling and pull employees away from their work or require personal time to complete. On-demand learning means work will not slow down or stop and workers have access to training when they need it most.
Providing on-demand options gives employees the chance to gain knowledge and skills exactly when they need them instead of prematurely taking a class they don’t personally feel ready for or taking time from their busiest workdays.
By focusing on these four key tips, organizations can more seamlessly integrate professional development into employees’ flow of work. Doing so will lead to better engagement and more satisfied employees, and as a result, the organization is more likely to reach its goals.