A Culture of Lifelong Learning: Empowered Workers Lead to Empowered Companies
Ali Knapp | 5 min read
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
However, nearly two-thirds of people would rather work in a new job than try to get a better position with their current employers. At the same time, about half of the employees that recently left their jobs cite a lack of opportunities for growth and a lack of internal career development opportunities.
This research paints a palpable picture: people are eager to learn and develop their skills, but their current employer has demonstrated that those desires are exceedingly low on the priority list. If companies want to keep their people from quitting, they must extend the olive branch—perhaps in a more personalized and engaging way— and offer employees the chance to really excel within their organization as opposed to staying stagnant, burning out and throwing in the towel.
Employee satisfaction does matter
We have been hearing of this for almost a year now: people are leaving their jobs in droves. One in three people quit their jobs within the past two years (half being Gen-Z). Moreover, 68% of Americans have a resignation letter drafted and saved for when they hit their breaking point at work. Most Americans cite Covid-19 as a reason for quitting, with 65% switching to different careers since March 2020.
Pandemic or not, what is commonly referred to as “The Great Resignation” is more realistically a symptom of the narrative that employees aren’t worth teaching—that the employer isn’t responsible for the learning and development of an employee throughout their career.
Now, with a shifted economy and a wide-open door to work-from-anywhere opportunities, the tables have turned. Workers are now demanding a certain quality of experience, which includes greater levels of transparency, feedback, mentoring, autonomy, respect, fulfillment and well-being.
They’re also demanding the space for continuous learning opportunities and career growth. Gallup research shows that 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job. Employers who can’t live up to this new standard are inevitably facing higher levels of turnover, increased team relations challenges and disengagement from those who remain. This explains why so many people are more inclined to jump ship than stay with their current organization: employees who are denied an engaging learning and development experience within their organization aren’t likely to spend a lot of time investigating internal options. Instead, they’re working on their resumes and resignation letters.
A case for L&D
Workers who are encouraged to regularly and consistently acquire new skills, knowledge, and information to perform their jobs better are naturally positioned to feel a greater sense of loyalty and value in their current roles. Similarly, companies that can cultivate a culture of continuous learning are better situated to boost employee engagement, level up skills and create greater loyalty over time.
Continuous learning comes in many forms. It may be employees taking certification courses to maintain regulatory compliance, training on new tools or equipment, or shadowing a coworker from another department to increase collaboration and build stronger teams. Continuous learning can also focus on soft skills, like facilitating effective communication with team members, engaging more fully in critical thinking, or finding creative ways to solve problems. Skill development can (and should be) a natural part of an employee’s work life. Some proven, actionable ways to encourage lifelong learning include:
- Allowing employees to self-direct their learning
- Making learning goals as important as performance goals
- Conducting casual learning check-ins
- Connecting employees with inspirational mentors
- Creating opportunities for social learning
- Building a library of learning resources
- Recognizing learning as an achievement
Learning opportunities build a path to a stronger culture, a greater brand and a more unified community of employees, customers and partners. Development initiatives almost always pay for themselves when the outcome is increased knowledge, skills and abilities. Having a learning and development strategy in place is integral to a company’s mission to retain employees in this era of “great resignation.”
Creating a continuous learning system that works
Having a formal, structured learning system in place is the difference between a lightweight program that lasts a few months and a company-wide, highly adopted initiative engrained in the DNA of the company.
An increasing number of businesses are implementing formal learning management systems (LMSs) and learning experience platforms (LXPs) into their training programs and daily operations. While there are several differences between an LMS and an LXP, they are both highly effective at encouraging lifelong learning in the workplace.
On one hand, an LMS is designed to deliver customized learning content to an audience to efficiently manage things like employee training, development and engagement. With an LMS, the employer creates learning content, distributes it to the entire organization, tracks completions and builds a powerful community. In essence, an LMS is designed to streamline and manage everything needed to train a workforce in the most organized and productive way possible.
On the other hand, an LXP is more so ingrained in the natural flow of work, which puts the learners in the driver’s seat. It’s typically adopted as an open learning environment that is collaborative and a true multi-stream of information and communication (i.e. company to employee, employee to company, employee to employee, etc.). LXPs are notorious for making employees feel more engaged with what they’re learning because of their rich social, gamification and sharing features.
Implementing an LXP can benefit training programs and increase retention by making employees feel more engaged with what they’re learning, with each other and with their company’s mission. This leads to higher information retention and increased productivity across daily operations. In a business environment where more jobs are becoming virtual, an LXP solution can be a beneficial tool to keep employees connected and feeling like they are an integral part of their team at work.
Ali Knapp is a foundational force in leading and growing a diverse client base as the President, Multi-Unit Business at Wisetail. Although her infectious laughter will always lighten the mood, her hard-charging work ethic has been instrumental in propelling Wisetail’s LMS and LXP solutions to greater heights.
After initially leading the Wisetail CX team, Ali took the reins of business development as the Director of Sales. After that, she moved to COO and navigated the Wisetail team through two acquisitions resulting in Wisetail being part of the Intertek People Assurance business unit.