Learning and development

6 Ways To Encourage Continuous Learning In Your Organization

Learning shouldn't stop for employees. That's why continuous learning is so popular within the workplace today. If employees are encouraged to continually grow and develop their skills the organizations they work for will be more agile and resilent. Here are 6 ways to promote continuous learning within your company.

Mehdi Hussen

Published on 

February 1, 2022

Updated on 

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For a large majority of the world’s population, the learning ends at school or college. But, for the small minority, learning never ends. It is a process that lasts a lifetime. 

It is ironic that it is this small population of individuals who have a constant urge for learning who end up in the top rung at whatever they do although they never intended to do it in the first place. 

In a way, to stop learning is to stop growing. Continuous learning is essential for constant growth in career, life, and in all aspects of life.

What is continuous learning?

Continuous learning is the "ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated" pursuit of knowledge. It could be for either personal growth or career advancement. It is the constant learning of new concepts, unlearning of redundant concepts, and relearning of the latest knowledge. 

It upholds the belief that learning is a never-ending pursuit and that craftsmanship in any field can be improved with incremental consumption of knowledge. From students to CEOs and even organizations at large can rely on continuous learning to upgrade their work quality. 

How Is Continuous Learning Different From Traditional Learning

Let’s not confuse traditional learning with continuous learning. They are two different approaches to learning and enriching yourself with knowledge and capabilities to perform at work or your venture. 

Continuous learning is more of a philosophy than a method of learning. It can also be structured according to your convenience and learning style. If traditional learning gives your academic credentials to gain employability, continuous learning helps you grow your career, especially in times like these when remote working has become the norm.

Traditionally learning has been restricted to rigid timelines and course completion after which learning literally stalls for an individual. Procuring a course completion certificate or a graduation ceremony is considered to be the culmination of learning. This has been the norm of traditional learning.

However, continuous learning takes the approach that learning never ends and that anybody can grow the skills and capabilities that they wish to have if they have the mindset to learn. 

To quote Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success  “Becoming is better than being”.

The Importance Of Continuous Learning In The Knowledge Era

Today, we are living in the knowledge era. We can find information without a few keystrokes. We can gain new knowledge through video tutorials that we can watch while commuting, or listen to podcasts on specific topics, or even read online material. There is an abundance of material to extend our knowledge. Continuous learning is never difficult with these facilities. However, making continuous learning a part of your daily life is a struggle.

Despite the easy access, there has never been a time in history when upskilling has been so important for survival and growth. A 2020 McKinsey global survey found that nine in 10 executives and managers are either already facing skills gaps in their organizations or expect gaps to develop within the next five years. Continuous learning is a remedy that can fill the internal knowledge void and also enable an organization to grow and nurture each of its employees.

These tactics should help you advance in your learning. 

How To Make Continuous Learning A Part Of An Organization

Embedding continuous learning as a part of your daily life can provide countless benefits for your personal life and career. Here are some ways how you can make continuous learning a daily ritual.

1. Create a learning calendar

A calendar is perhaps the simplest and most effective means to put your learning aspirations into a definite timeline. It ensures that you have a start date and an end date within which you have to complete a module or the course. 

Most online education platforms and MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) offer a calendar-based approach to lesson planning. The courses are divided into week-based modules each with a few hours of lessons for each day. Finishing a specific learning lesson for the day is marked as completed in the progress bar. 

If you have multiple courses going on simultaneously, you can always create events in your personal calendar. This would help give a comprehensive view of your daily activities, learning plan, as well as meetings, and other tasks. 

2. Choose your learning materials and sources wisely

Let’s face it. Although the internet is abundant with choices of learning material, there is a lot of poor-quality content that could derail your learning plans. They will drain your time, energy, and could even make you averse to the idea of continuous learning. 

Not everybody who can publish a video could be an expert in the field. Also, there is also the chance of consuming wrong information or outdated content that could do more harm than good. Hence the need to choose your learning materials and sources wisely. Do a background check of your tutors, their credentials, and their expertise. 

A quick glance at what students of previous batches feel about the course and how it has helped them would be a good check to do before committing yourself.

3. Gamify the learning progress

In school as well as in adult life, learning is still a difficult process. The temptation to give up when the course material gets difficult will be severe. That’s why you need a reward or incentive system in place to keep going without stopping. 

In school, test scores and positive remarks from teachers or parents would have made you beam with pride. In adult life, when you are learning out of self-will, there is no source for encouragement, except yourself. 

Rewarding yourself for every completed lesson or course will subconsciously motivate you to learn continuously. Buy yourself a pizza, or shop something online each time you finish a milestone. Consider this as the carrot and stick method to keep your learning spirits high. 

4. Create a culture of continuous learning with mentorship

Many companies have online learning platforms to encourage employees to grow their skillsets and become more valuable to the organization. 

Assaf Cohen, who runs gaming studio Solitaire Bliss, offers these learning platforms for his company along with an incentive plan. “Not only do we subscribe to learning content, but we provide bonuses to our employees with complete courses. This has encouraged more professional development and growth among our team, along with improved retention.”

There’s a catch, though. Corporate E-learning doesn’t automatically make your employees exponentially better. They need mentors as well. There is an over-emphasis on coursework, surveys, quizzes, training videos, and other activities that employees complete independently. To really grow employees they need leaders to invest in them with guidance and career advice. Mentors can offer encouragement and instill confidence in employees in a way that a course can’t. 

If you want a culture of continuous learning you need to encourage your seasoned employees to connect with others that are still growing. This will reinforce their learning. Starting a corporate mentorship program is a great way to level up your employee learning strategy. 

5. Set the stage for bottom-up and top-down learning

Unlike in school and college education, in an organizational setup, learning is a two-way lane. It could flow from top-level management to reporters/reportees or from on-the-ground experts to higher-level management. 

What would differ would be the contents of the learnings. While top-level management would be able to share experience and expertise of growing and scaling up, reports would be able to share more hands-on knowledge about the business, the market, their everyday activities, and so on.

To bring out the best in both ends of the organization, it is necessary to create a stage for bottom-up and top-down learning. This could be an internal email newsletter, an internal blog, a podcast, and so on.

6. Have focus groups for sharing learning content internally

The power of community in learning is immeasurable. There is a reason why classrooms and Universities have followed the group system of learning. More than learning it is the collective sharing of ideas and perspectives that leads to continuous learning and growth. 

Phrased differently, in addition to what an individual learns, it is when s/he listens to what others have learned do they unlearn and relearn with more clarity. In an organization, this could take the form of an internal community that discusses ongoing learning plans, upcoming webinars on specific topics, sharing of learnings by those who completed recent courses, and so on. 

Learning never ends, if it does, growth ends

Let’s take the example of Elon Musk. He is not a prolific academic, however, his ideas are leading the world into the future of technological advancements. Elon Musk attributes his success to the pursuit of learning. Learning that is outside school and college. 

Continuous learning with discipline. What most successful people like him have achieved is removing the faulty mindset that learning stops at college. Such a mindset is dangerous to growth as it hinders growth and fixates on rote and redundant knowledge. 

Bringing it all together, we can agree that it is necessary to make continuous learning a part of every learning and development plan. An individual and an organization will grow with leaps and bounds if continuous learning is made a daily ritual.

Author Bio: Mehdi Hussen is the Head of Marketing at ZoomShift and a freelance inbound marketing consultant. He is passionate about driving organic growth and customer acquisition for startups through data-driven content marketing. He spends his spare time musing about startup growth strategies, sales productivity, and remote work. Connect with him through Twitter or LinkedIn.

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