techrseries.com, May 23, 2022, Ali Knapp
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 blame 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 a bit further—perhaps in a more personalized and engaging way—in order to offer employees the chance to really excel within their organization as opposed to staying stagnant, burning out and throwing in the towel.
The State of Employee Satisfaction
It’s no secret that 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 the pandemic began in 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.
Only now, the tables have turned (with the help of a stimulated economy and a wide-open door to work-from-anywhere opportunities). 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 continuous learning opportunities at their fingertips.
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 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 that 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 Learning & Development
Workers that 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 will be 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. It can also focus on soft skills, like facilitating 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
- Using 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
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 that is ingrained 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 platform 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 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.
Benjamin Franklin puts it best when he wrote, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Learning opportunities build a path to a stronger culture, a greater brand and a more unified community of employees, customers and partners. Moreover, development initiatives almost always pay for themselves when the outcome is increased knowledge, skills and abilities. There’s no denying that development opportunities and employee satisfaction are positively correlated. Having a learning and development strategy in place is integral to a company’s mission to retain employees in this era of “great resignation.”