Learning & Development

How To Knit Continuous Learning into Your Employees’ Workflow

The 2022 L&D Global Sentiment Survey shows employees place the most importance on the field of reskilling and upskilling in 2022. The number is historically high at 12.5%, though down from 2021. Social learning at 9.6% and personalization at 8.1% take second and third place in the survey table, respectively.

It’s no secret that half of today’s required skills weren’t even on the list 3 years ago. Workplace learning is therefore an economic imperative and an inevitable next wave of the future of the workplace.

Meanwhile, investment in building a continuous learning culture saves nearly 15% of a company’s money per employee. According to William G. Bliss, president of Bliss & Associates Inc., replacing an employee who earns $50,000 a year will cost a company $75,000 in operating and indirect costs.

Looking at the statistics, it seems that each new year provides ample reminders to encourage employees to learn not in the abstract but directly in the workflow. Fortunately, this can easily be done when learning and development (L&D) leaders are armed with the right strategies.

Here are four strategies to help L&D professionals develop a continuous learning culture in their companies.

Improve Learning Engagement

At 1 p.m., office planktons have their lunches in a noisy cafe. A guy is sitting in front of me, checking his phone every 2 minutes. A girl sitting next to the window doesn’t take her eyes off her phone, continuously scrolling her TikTok feed. In the left corner, a 20-year-old guy takes classes on real estate, and yes, he checks his news feed 2 times every 10 minutes, switching from smartphone to laptop.

Under the guise of informational services or educational programming, the entertainment industry offers distractions every minute. The only thing we can do is adapt the workplace to the new conditions we live in.

First, develop an interactive learning environment. Incorporate storytelling into your corporate courses or learning programs, and use the experience of employees who have already done the training.

The training should begin with a problem learners can deal with, such as how to handle hard-to-get customers. When employees have to learn something new, in 55% of cases, they ask their peers or bosses, so add additional sources and links to thematic discussion forums, and if possible, design collaborative learning in small groups.

Moreover, add quizzes and tests so employees can engage in social, creative thinking and problem-solving activities. For example, ask employees to create their own small courses, shout a video answer, or solve problems in real time.

Second, support learning in the moment. This is meant to help employees solve a work task they don’t know how to solve. Your go-to tool in this case can be a corporate university/academy. For example, say a customer contacts your technical support with a question, but the technical support employee is still a novice and doesn’t know how to help the caller. Instead of Googling or putting off solving the problem, the worker can go to a corporate university and quickly find the answer. Additionally, encourage employees to ask questions by providing them with links to thematic forums and contacts with senior colleagues. Show that seniors are always there and are happy to answer questions.

Third, encourage reverse mentoring. With reverse mentoring, less experienced employees train more experienced ones. For example, Gen Z can train millennials on the latest entertainment industry trends and tendencies or help baby boomers shift to new technological processes and progress in social justice movements. Such an approach can be especially effective for marketing teams and can ensure everyone feels comfortable in the workplace by creating a sustainable and inclusive environment.

Promote Independent Learning

According to Forbes, by 2027, 6 in 10 employees will be working independently, and it identifies 3 reasons: First, Gen Zs value their independence and aren’t willing to work for someone else. Second, Gen Zs make work/life balance a priority, and third, they want to gain new skills and experience in order to receive a higher salary. It’s apparent these young professionals won’t compromise on their values anytime soon, so provide your employees with independent learning opportunities as soon as possible.

First, rewards are your powerful tool. And by “rewards,” I mean the most basic type of incentive: money. Also, consider work trips or shifts in duties, and don’t forget about nonmaterial rewards like public praise from leaders or a promotion in which the employee can mentor others.

Additionally, keep in mind that you have to set goals correctly.

Second, use the 70:20:10 principle. The principle states that 70% of knowledge comes from work experience, such as tasks and duties, research, and self-reflection.When an employee can already perform a particular task perfectly, for example, provide him or her with the option to work on a new task. Moreover, 20% of knowledge comes from self-development and social aspects, including coaching and mentoring, professional community participation, and communication with colleagues.

Finally, only 10% of knowledge comes from formal learning, such as seminars, conferences, books, and academics, so employing only this type of learning path won’t be effective in solving your L&D problems.

Third, set goals correctly. “Complete the course ➡️ keep the award” is poor motivation, which can result in “eternal student syndrome.” Yet “complete the course ➡️ work more efficiently ➡️ keep the reward” is much more effective because people get paid for working, not for studying.

Implement Feedback Culture

Those who work with younger generations will notice how tech-savvy Gen Z is; they use their devices 24/7. As a result, their attention span is only 8 seconds. But at the same time, they’re also very ambitious and open-minded and want to participate in decisions and drive change—they aren’t mere employees but rather contributors. But despite their independence, 66% of Gen Zs say they want in-person feedback from their managers, with another 66% wanting feedback every few weeks from their supervisors. Meanwhile, less than half of millennials say they require the same level of feedback.

Without a feedback culture, managers may lose touch with their organization’s most essential building blocks: its contributors.

First, set up a frequency for feedback exchange. For example, feedback could be provided monthly or weekly or be based on how long it will take to reach a goal. Also, encourage employees to communicate their emotions and feelings in these feedback sessions.

Second, make it a face-to-face conversation. Millennials and Gen Zs prefer face-to-face communication. For example, if an employee works in the office, you could arrange a lunch, a coffee break, or a traditional one-on-one meeting.

Furthermore, if an employee works from home, you can use gamification in an online meeting to create badges or certificates the employee can earn during the feedback session or when completing specific tasks.

Third, give employees time for reflection. The person giving the feedback and the person receiving the feedback should take time to reflect before the session to think about their performance, what has gone well, and where improvement is necessary.

Incorporating continuous learning into your employees’ workflow is not just about praising employees; it’s also about creating a climate that nurtures curiosity and self-development. Be sure to give your workers constructive feedback, work on implementing an independent learning culture, and motivate your employees to be engaged in learning in everyday life. The right mindset, aligned with practical strategies, can empower companies and employees alike.

Vladimir Polo is CEO and founder of AcademyOcean, a platform for corporate education with 300,000 users in 30 countries. Polo is a YCombinator alumni and a speaker at WebSummit, and he shares his expertise on employee training, onboarding, upskilling, and reskilling in publications such as TechCrunch and HackerNoon. Twitter handle: @vodpolo, @AcademyOcean

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