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What Is Continuous Learning: Benefits of Adopting It in Your Workplace

Category: B2B News
What is continuous learning?

Continuous learning is a type of workplace elearning method involving the constant expansion of knowledge and skills using tools that facilitate learning. It’s all about further expanding employee capabilities to adapt to emerging developments and a changing environment.

One of the biggest trends in the business world today is continuous learning. Its novelty is not the real reason why it’s trending. In most part, it’s because continuous learning is one of the business community’s powerful answers to the constantly evolving modern workplace.

In this article, we’ll discuss what is continuous learning and why you should adopt it in your business operations. We’ll also discuss common types of continuous learning methods and some elearning tools for continuous learning at the workplace.

continuous learning

The global workforce’s struggle against the unceasing growth of automation, cognitive technologies, and artificial intelligence continues to intensify. Also, macro trends like digital transformation and the decreasing shelf-life of skills are compelling businesses to adjust how they recruit and grow employees.

The 2019 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey of business executives worldwide found out that 86% think that they must revamp their learning capability. Likewise, 84% think that they must reevaluate their workforce experience to enhance employee efficiency.

How does HR identify the most essential skills to train for

How does HR identify the most essential skills to train for
Conduct internal skills gaps assessments: 74

Conduct internal skills gaps assessments

%
How does HR identify the most essential skills to train for
Track business KPIs/key metrics: 66

Track business KPIs/key metrics

%
How does HR identify the most essential skills to train for
Participate in meetings with executives/senior managers: 61

Participate in meetings with executives/senior managers

%
How does HR identify the most essential skills to train for
Depend on manager input: 59

Depend on manager input

%
How does HR identify the most essential skills to train for
Refer to industry trends to prevent skills gaps: 51

Refer to industry trends to prevent skills gaps

%

Source: LinkedIn Learning's 2019 Workplace Learning Report

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At the core of these elearning trends is the accelerating digitization of today’s business organizations. As more workplace devices become connected and elearning tools continue to offer flexibility and cost-efficiency, more companies will embrace elearning innovations.

In fact, 40% of Fortune 500 firms use LMS considerably to sustain their competitive edge.

Overall, the quickly transforming modern workplace primarily means that businesses should establish a continuous learning environment. At the minimum, organizations should ensure that they’re always at pace with the state of knowledge in their particular industries to remain relevant and competitive.

What is continuous learning in the workplace?

A Training Magazine 2019 report found that 35% of American workers lack the proper training and education needed to advance in their careers. Only 16% of all Americans believe that in today’s ever-changing economy, a four-year college study isn’t enough to prepare students.

Indeed, despite the significant efforts of both individual workers and organizations, the overall skills gap continues to balloon. And this is why US-based organizations spend an average of $4.5 billion on employee training and development.

Since its inception, the importance of continuous learning has always been clear and solid. Business owners should take this challenge as an opportunity. And one of the best ways to approach this is through constant training and development.

How do you define continuous learning?

As an emerging business strategy, several continuous learning definitions currently exist. For one, it is defined as a way of allowing learners to make learning an integral element of their work. It is also described as a way to adjust to workplace changes by allocating time to adapt to them by acquiring new knowledge and skills. 

Another definition is that it is the process of learning new skills and knowledge continuously. This is why it’s also called lifelong learning.

Canada’s Department of Human Resources and Skills Development offers a clear and concise definition. It defines continuous learning as “the knowledge and skills needed to effectively manage the ongoing process of learning.” 

Ultimately, continuous learning in the workplace allows employees to engage in training by actively pursuing the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in one’s career.

Source: Statista

Some continuous learning key aspects

Continuous learning can assume various forms—from casual social learning to formal training courses. It entails addressing challenges and undertaking self-initiatives. Moreover, it can either be personal—i.e., lifelong learning—or organizational. 

Time is another essential element of continuous learning. Learners should also have a regular schedule to train for new skills and knowledge that will enhance their productivity. However, the average employee typically doesn’t have enough time to allocate to learning. And this had prompted dynamic organizations to prioritize the creation of a continuous learning culture.

There’s also the critical aspect of applying the newly-acquired knowledge and skills as they do their work. This is important as this further elevates the benefits of continuous learning, i.e., the advantage of being implemented without harming business operations. Because being able to learn these new skills will not only improve one’s efficiency but reinforce learning on the job as well.

Why should you adopt it in your workplace?

Every business organization naturally wants to employ the best candidates possible. Once hired, these employees are on-boarded, later trained, and even allowed to attend seminars once in a while. But after a long while, what happens next?

Yes, there will be some occasional learning opportunities along the way. However, an ongoing type of employee learning and development is seldom or never a common part of any organizational culture.

What are its business benefits?

The benefits of continuous learning are vast. For one, it can help companies foster their employees to assume a lifelong learning mindset. This benefits both the individual employee and the organization. 

If you can give your employees a great reason and the proper tools to keep on learning, you can trust them to continue learning and remain motivated.

According to LinkedIn, talent developers of today can clearly show the importance of the learning and development programs. For instance, 67% say that they’re able to close their existing skills gap. Another 65% report of being able to help their workers to gain the necessary knowledge and skills to remain relevant in their career.

From the workers’ perspective, the Pew Research Center found out that 87% of employees think it’s essential to develop new skills throughout their life to keep up with the changing workplace.

As expected, top global companies are among the first ones to adopt continuous learning methods. As early as 2015, a CPID study found that companies with a solid learning culture were among the best performers in their respective industries. As a result, these dynamic organizations can attract the best talents, which, in turn, generated more satisfied customers.

Top ways to show employee learning and development success

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Source: LinkedIn 2019 Workplace Learning Report

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What types of continuous learning methods to deploy?

There are various ways to implement continuous learning in the workplace. But based on the approach used, all continuous learning methods can be categorized into three groups:

Self-directed learning

This entails continuous learning by one’s own pace and direction. While initially challenging, gaining new knowledge or improving on an existing skill by yourself is considered an effective learning approach.

Self-directed learning can involve different techniques. For instance, a learner can undertake exploration and experimentation. Likewise, a learner can watch instructional videos or listen to relevant podcasts online. Finally, it can involve researching and reading materials for a deeper understanding of particular topics.

Moreover, experts suggest that self-directed learning can be truly effective if done correctly. To do so, a self-learner must be ready to learn and able to set his or her learning objectives. Likewise, he or she must engage in the learning process and be able to measure the learning outcomes. And to address most of these needs, using a reliable elearning tool that supports self-directed learning will be crucial.

A good sample platform that offers these features is Docebo. Using this robust elearning solution helps learners assume a more dynamic role in their learning endeavors. This data-driven, AI-powered eLearning system provides employees with the necessary tools for individual learning. What’s more, it leverages learning analytics that delivers realistic appraisal for self-driven learning management programs.

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Social learning

Another major approach used nowadays for continuous learning is social learning. This is the opposite of self-directed learning, as this entails learning with others—mentors or fellow learners.

Social learning can be informal and/or formal. It covers all the means a learner uses to interact, exchange views, and learn from/with others. Many businesses today implement this learning method using an LMS software.

Some of the methods used include on-the-job training, coaching, and mentoring, as well as working with colleagues. Other techniques include searching for social media sites, blogs, and other relevant resources to gain deeper insights.

Formal learning

For the longest time, formal learning is one of the most widely-used methods for continuous learning in organizations. This involves the different ways of learning new knowledge and skills using systematic and pre-determined lessons and courses.

What’s more, formal learning is undertaken to achieve a particular learning objective. Likewise, companies commonly measure their formal training programs for employees using performance appraisal software.

Some formal learning methods used in business settings include:

  • Massive open online courses (MOOCs)
  • e-learning courses
  • Mobile learning courses
  • external workshops or conferences
  • training programs from within the organization
  • a university or college course

How to create a culture of continuous learning?

Building a workplace environment that motivates its workforce to undertake continuous learning requires executive support, resources, and commitment. Several employees often have that natural inclination toward lifelong learning. However, without a conducive setting, nothing substantial can be gained.

Moreover, if the drive for continuous learning is not organization-wide, only a few can have the resources or time to do so. This is because workers are usually zeroed-in on their current tasks and often won’t “waste” time tinkering with new stuff.

As a business owner or manager, it’s impractical to think that all your managers and staff will undertake continuous learning during their work shifts. Much more, you can’t just force them to train during their break or free time.

Building a lifelong learning workplace culture

Given these realities, the best way, indeed, is through the creation of a culture of continuous learning in your workplace. To figure out how to start building a learning environment in your company, here are some expert suggestions:

  • Implement mentorship or coaching opportunities
  • Allot time for employees to undertake learning activities
  • Build a personal development plan with every manager and staff to determine what they may want to learn. This helps to nurture initiative and self-motivation
  • Conduct special events during lunch breaks to motivate staff to share and use their new skills and knowledge
  • Mobilize a continuous learning committee that will enable employees to study and collaborate on a shared skill or topic
  • Offer access to professional learning resources through company-sponsored memberships or subscriptions
  • Participate in events and workshops
  • Provide online access to elearning or LMS-based courses and resources for self-paced learning

Keep Your Business Sharp: Cultivate a Culture of Continuous Learning

In modern-day organizations, an individual’s career had ceased being controlled by her or his education. On the other hand, one’s career had become the medium per se for a lifelong learning process. With human knowledge doubling every 12 hours, the skill or knowledge you have today will likely be outdated faster than before.

And in a digital workplace, business technologies will continue to evolve in a way that that the related knowledge and skills will become outdated within a year or so, which is why now is the best time for businesses to foster continuous learning opportunities to remain relevant.

Finally, it should be highlighted that lifelong learning activities should not only be confined to hard skills. They should also influence how every manager and employee use their corresponding soft skills in addressing the more intricate day-to-day demands of the constantly changing workplace. In case you’d like to test-drive a technological tool for continuous learning, why not avail of Docebo’s great free trial offer?

By Nestor Gilbert

Senior writer for FinancesOnline. If he is not writing about the booming SaaS and B2B industry, with special focus on developments in CRM and business intelligence software spaces, he is editing manuscripts for aspiring and veteran authors. He has compiled years of experience editing book titles and writing for popular marketing and technical publications.

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