Recently, many companies have realised that promoting lifelong learning principles is a great investment for their future success. Many people, while looking for employment, consider learning in the workplace to be an important factor.
Here’s what lifelong learning includes, why it is important for your business and how you can make it a part of your corporate culture.
What is lifelong learning?
By its definition, lifelong learning includes both personal and professional growth. The goal of constant self-education is to get new skills and implement existing knowledge.
The concept of continuous learning appeared in the 1970s when three different international bodies expressed their ideas of the necessity to expand education throughout a person’s life. UNESCO, OECD, and the Council of Europe took an active part in advocating for reshaping the education system.
However, for the next twenty years, the interest in this topic faded significantly. The new flow of reports and studies emerged in the 1990s relighting the fire of discussions. Since then, businesses started to understand the benefits of staff training.
Lifelong learning is a global phenomenon that differs slightly from country to country. For some, it includes solely the courses adults take after graduation. But mostly, the term implies the infinity of the learning process. You start in kindergarten, and then proceed to school, college, university, and you still keep perfecting your skills and getting new knowledge while working.
Nowadays, the percentage of people taking part in formal and informal courses varies from country to country. According to the statistics provided by Eurostat, in 2018, Switzerland came first on the list of countries with 31,6% of adult learners. The EU showed an average of 11,1% of people taking part in educating activities.
This shows that people are eager to learn despite the fact they’ve graduated. They want to get new skills to find better jobs or to excel in their current careers. And it allows you to use this never-ending striving for perfection more to an advantage for your business.
Why is learning important for business?
You may think that hiring already skilled workers will be enough for your business to live long and prosper. However, in order to survive in the ever-changing world, a company should be agile and ready for any obstacle it may face.
This means the team should be as versatile as possible. Implementing learning in the workplace contributes to employee engagement, solves this problem and gives your business certain benefits:
Your employees become more skilled
Mastering new skills and gaining knowledge, members of your team get new interests. This helps them set new goals, both professional and personal. Flexibility and comprehensive development ensure the success of a business.
Team building becomes a natural process
If your employees learn and spend more time together, they naturally get to know each other better. Good relationships between individuals are important because they ensure better communication. It helps your team achieve the results faster.
Your business opportunities expand
Thanks to the newly acquired knowledge of your employees, you can explore new things in any sphere your company is involved in: marketing, development, distribution, education, and more.
The employees’ loyalty increases
When a company spends a lot of time and money on its employees, it motivates them to stay with the company longer. If the staff know they are valued, it gives them the reason to trust you more and increases their confidence. Investment in staff education also reduces employee turnover.
You address the weak spots
It is important to teach employees time management, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, conflict management and other soft skills. If the team members are proficient in these spheres of knowledge, it is easier to build processes within the organisation.
You become a more attractive employer
The job market is as competitive now as it could ever be. You can use staff training as a competitive advantage to attract new potential recruits. It enhances your company’s reputation and makes it the first choice for new graduates.
Types of employee training
Lifelong learning includes all kinds of educational activities, both formal and informal, that you get involved in after you graduate. Here’s the list of ways you can consider introducing into your corporate culture.
A simple method to educate new-comers everything they need to know. An experienced worker is assigned to a new employee or employees and answers the questions they may have during their first days on the job. It is important for a mentor to be a qualified specialist and a good teacher to pass on hard skills within the department.
Once they’ve learnt the basics, the employees need to understand their responsibility to educate themselves. This means they should devote a certain amount of time to reading newsletters from professionals, printed materials, as well as making use of online learning platforms.
Encourage your staff to take part in conferences in their field as visitors, or, if they’re certified enough, as speakers. Participating in webinars is an alternative to visiting events in person. In some cases, it works best, since you can record them for other employees.
Sharing knowledge within the company is vital if you want everyone to be aware of what is happening. You top manager learned something new at a conference? Let them educate their colleagues and team members.
Soft skill training
In the 21st century, soft skills have become the focus of attention for many employers. Creative thinking, teamwork, decision-making, flexibility, problem-solving, time management — these are the characteristics you need to get a job in most or rapidly growing companies. And just like hard skills, you can acquire these traits through training.
Taking part in and winning a competition can boost your employees’ morale and satisfaction. They get to use all of their skills, knowledge, and talents to show their best. This also helps your brand image, if your employee ranks high in an event important in your sphere of business.
Gather all the useful information in one place accessible to everyone within the company. Not only does it help to educate your employees, but it also means you won’t lose anything if a person with unique knowledge leaves.
How to integrate training and development into your corporate culture
The educational system in your company should satisfy the needs of your team and fit your business plan at the same time. With the help of HR specialists and coaches, you can build a coherent system of efficient training. Here are the things you need to take into account:
Needs of your employees
Are they qualified enough in terms of hard skills? Do they need to spend more time on some of the soft skills essential to your company’s mission? In the last five years, the importance of soft skills has been re-estimated, and now interpersonal skills are highly valued. Different types of tests can help define the weak spots of your staff.
Your company’s goal
The primary reason why you should invest in educating your employees is to make your company better. The skills and knowledge of your employees should help your business expand and not just be a couple of extra things on their resume. Corporate learning should reflect the values important for you and your company.
Types of education
There are multiple types of educational activities you can offer to your team. Let your HR team find the best way for your employees to learn. The financial part is important, too, so act according to your budget. Online education is getting more popular, because of its obvious perks: you can take classes wherever and whenever it suits you.
Tools for training
There is a wide range of tools available to facilitate educational activities for your staff. They don’t provide material for education, but rather help you with the organisation of the process. Here are some examples:
Time management utilities: Trello, Tomato Timer, Scoro, Asana, Clarizen.
Learning Management Systems (LMS): Docebo, LearnUpon, iSpring Learn, Intuo, Lessenly.
Screen recording software: Movavi Screen Recorder, ApowerREC, ScreenFlow, Icecream Screen Recorder, OBS Studio.
Presentation makers: Canva, Prezi, Visme, Crello, Venngage.
Video conferencing apps: Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Slack, Discord.
Other useful tools:
- Google Docs, Sheets, Slides: web-based office suite;
- Slideshare: a hosting service for presentations and infographics;
- Dropbox: file-sharing cloud service.
Lifelong learning is crucial for a successful business. Giving your employees an opportunity to get new skills makes you a competitive employer. Plus, well-trained staff helps your company grow and achieve better results in a challenging environment.
With the help of HR professionals, you can choose from different educational programs and establish a proper learning system within your organisation. Investing in education at work, you will gradually fix any problem areas within your team related to both hard and soft skills.
About the Author
Nataly Bogorad is a seasoned content creator and text editor with 7 years of experience in commercial writing.
She specializes in researching complex topics and making them easy to understand in blog posts and articles.