A successful, modern and innovative company is also one that’s constantly growing. This doesn’t just mean the organization as a whole is growing, but also that individual employees are growing too. To keep employees evolving and dynamic along with the company, continuing education is essential.
Continuing education isn’t just a way to teach hard skills but also soft skills. It prepares employees to take on different roles within the company, and it’s a good way to build an internal leadership pipeline. Thanks to the availability of learning management system solutions, it’s more economical and easy for organizations to provide their own continuing education and employee development programs than ever before.
In this blog article are some tips to encourage continuing education and development on the part of your employees
Provide Non-Work-Related Education Opportunities
A good way to pique employees’ initial interest in learning and continuing education and cultivate a culture of learning is to offer opportunities that aren’t even necessarily related to work. This might sound counterintuitive, but if you offer access to courses that are personally interesting to employees, it shows that you encourage continual learning on a holistic level.
You can also let employees know that you support their endeavors outside of work, which is generally good for your corporate culture.
Align Education and Development with Skills Gaps
Employees are more likely to have an interest in participating in continuing education opportunities that align with the real challenges and situations they face on the job.
A good way to start building a robust continuing education program is by assessing your skill gaps within your organization and then basing education around those specifically.
Most employees are likely to be engaged with training opportunities that are going to make their life easier, and when you use a skills gap as a starting point, it’s a good way to make that happen.
If you aren’t sure where skills gaps exist, you can start by simply asking your employees for their feedback as to where they feel like they could learn to improve job performance. Make this all part of a larger plan to help foster individual employee development and chart their improvements over time to show them the real, measurable effects of continual learning and development.
Give Employees Options in How They Learn
Everyone is unique, and this includes how they learn. People may learn better when information is in different formats as compared to others, and also when there is a sense of flexibility in how they access materials and information.
Provide as many options as you reasonably can so employees have choices. For example, with a learning management system, you can offer self-paced modules, video learning, and written materials. People can learn at a pace that works for them and access information in the ways that will them best retain it.
A lot of employers shy away from a culture that embraces learning because they think it has to be expensive and time-consuming. They often visualize expensive off-site, instructor-led training, and that’s not necessary, nor is it what employees prefer in most cases.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t provide opportunities for off-site learning and even conferences, but it doesn’t have to be the focal point of your education program.
Pair Learning with Mentorship
To retain employees, it’s important to show them that you’re willing to invest in them and their future within the organization in all ways. To encourage them to take part in continuing education and always be evolving, pair learning programs with mentorship.
When employees have a mentor, they’re going to feel more connected and engaged and likely happier at work a well, all of which are important for retention and innovation.
Employees need to feel incentivized for everything they do in the workplace, and this includes continuing education and development. There are different ways to incentivize learning. You can make it fun with gamification, but you can also make it an integral part of promotions and moving upward in the company.
Make clear connections for your employees that show them how continuing education from bring them to the next level of their career.
Don’t just say it—put it in action. Advancement should be heavily based on who is willing to learn new skills and who is part of a culture of learning, and employees should be able to see this in action. This is a win for you as well because as mentioned, you’re building and cultivating your own talent pipeline rather than having to always look outside the organization.