Using lifelong learning to advance careers
Staying on top of current trends is instrumental for success in many industries. Medical professionals take courses throughout their careers to ensure superior patient care, and educators are required to take part in specialized training for the classroom. But how do you develop employees in fields that don’t necessitate continued education?
Creating a company culture that encourages growth and empowers employees to become lifelong learners is not just nice to have, it’s essential to survival in our rapidly changing world. I am fortunate to work in an organization that has “Growth” as one of our core values. We believe that as we grow our employees, we will in turn grow our business.
What is a lifelong learner?
Lifelong learners consistently seek out ways to expand their knowledge and abilities. People with this type of learning personality typically pursue their interests through a combination of self-directed and formal education. With information so readily available, there is no excuse for not engaging with helpful content.
Job satisfaction. According to a report from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), career development is an important part of employee engagement. In the 2016 survey, nearly 80 percent of respondents rated aspects like job-specific training, company-paid general training and opportunities to use their skills at work as either “very important” or “somewhat important” to their satisfaction.
Collaboration. Because employees aren’t solely relying on formal training methods, they can freely learn from other people within the organization. Combining different experiences and backgrounds creates a collaborative environment that may spark new ideas.
Initiative. When people have the opportunity to learn on their own, they can feel more confident in their ability to take on new challenges. This training approach provides freedom to make decisions and helps develop critical-thinking skills.
In order to see these benefits within our organizations, we have to provide ways to incorporate continuous learning in daily activities.
Finding time to learn at work
At-work learning can take place in a few different ways, and will depend on the professional development strategy a company utilizes. Some organizations use a rule to divide time, say where 90 percent of a week is spent on job-related tasks and 10 percent is spent on training. Others simply let employees find the best way to balance their time. No matter how structured the process is, establishing training as an essential job element will help develop the lifelong learner mentality.
You can promote lifelong learning in the workplace by:
Creating formal goals. One of the easiest ways to monitor development is to create goals for each employee. These can relate specifically to their roles, but also should include objectives for gaining new skills.
Encouraging mentor relationships. Professional relationships can benefit everyone involved. Mentors can teach newer employees about the company and share lessons they’ve learned throughout their careers, but the mentees may bring a fresh perspective that increases excitement about a job or project.
Offering different types of training. Because people consume information in different ways, providing multiple training resources is important for development. Books on job-related topics, in-house classes, online courses, podcasts and conferences are just some of the methods to consider.
Providing opportunities for constructive feedback. Without an open conversation about development, team members may not be aware of their status. Regular communication about progress and potential setbacks will help keep everyone on track and demonstrate your commitment to the employee’s growth.
I’m proud to be part of a company that embraces the idea of lifelong learning and provides resources to continuously develop our team. Through these training initiatives and our dedicated employees, we’re equipped to accomplish our strategy and goals and provide trusted solutions to our customers’ toughest logistics challenges.