Continuous Learning: A Guide for your Business Emma O'Neill Published on October 4, 2018 Continuous learning, continual learning, constant learning, lifelong learning - whatever you want to call it, it’s a concept that businesses training employees should know about. Not only beneficial for your employees, the idea of continuously offering learning and training also helps nurture your business. It supports your growth and creates opportunities in many different ways. Whether you’re doing formal training with an LMS or informal, ad-hoc learning, let’s outline exactly what continuous learning is, why it’s important and how you can enact it within your business. What is Continuous Learning? Continuous learning, also known as constant learning, is the concept of always expanding your knowledge to gain new skills and expertise. For businesses, continuous learning is about encouraging your employees to constantly learn by providing them with the tools that facilitate this learning. Why is it important for your Business? Stimulating the brain with the continual learning of new information not only enhances the cognitive ability of the individual, including increased problem-solving ability and memory, it also benefits your business as a whole as it: Facilitates adaptation through constant learning In a rapidly changing workplace, providing continual learning for each employee helps them to adapt quickly. Be it new technologies, practices, industry developments… your employees have the tools they need to keep up with standards. Avoids shortsightedness Myopia in the business world is a killer. It leads to a stagnant workforce and your business falls behind. Through continual training your employees are constantly pushing your business forward, learning new skills and advancing your business so it’s at the forefront of your industry. Enables skills sharing From employee onboarding training to job-based skills, creating an environment that allows people to share knowledge is essential. Best practices can be discovered, past mistakes can be learned from and your employees develop the skills they need to be the most successful. Creates internal career progression opportunities Nurturing a continuous learning culture within your business means you’re training your employees for future opportunities in your organization. Hiring from within saves time, money, resources and reduces employee turnover. Build a Strategy for Continuous Learning 1. Assess your current learning practices Purposefully or not, learning is happening within your business. It might just be informal. If you are creating a continual learning strategy, it's your job to find out what and where this is happening. If your employees have a bi-annual training seminar, take note. Or if a manager and an employee are having an impromptu training chat by the coffee machine, take note of that too. Every bit of learning happening in your organization is important and to effectively facilitate constant learning, it's good to know about it all. 2. Ask who's in the know Learning gaps and informal training aren't always obvious to identify, especially if you're outside of a particular team. So why not go straight to the horse's mouth to get the best info. Ask your workforce - management and employees - where they see training could improve and what they believe would work. Depending on the size of your organization, it can be done face-to-face or through a survey. This should provide you with a wealth of information on the training happening or lack thereof on which to build a strategy. 3. How will your organization provide continuous learning? The big question your business needs to answer: How do we want to enable continuous learning? You have lots of options here. Face-to-face seminars and sessions work well if your teams are all in the one location and have time to take group classes. Online training with a learning management system is a great choice for a growing business wanting to train many learners across different locations. Continuous learning can be on-demand so your employees learn whenever and whatever they choose. They can also be enrolled and the training is essential. Alternatively, a mix of the above is a popular approach. Blended learning involves both online, in-person, webinar training and more. 4. Constant learning from the get-go Successful continual learning is about creating a habit. A habit of wanting and expecting to boost your knowledge. Your business should be fostering this habit from the moment someone joins your organization. Employee onboarding training is the perfect place to start. Your new hires gain new skills and become aware that learning is a priority within the business. 5. Encourage and reward learning Getting learning off the ground can be an uphill battle. Speed up the process with incentives. Award prizes and opportunities to your top company learners. Or use Gamification within your LMS to encourage employees to win badges and have bragging rights by being top of your company’s learning leaderboard. Continuous learning takes time to establish in a business, but it yields powerful benefits. By following these tips, you can create a learning culture that impacts your employees’ productivity, your retention rates, and in turn, your business’s bottom line.