Promote Self-Direct Learning
There are countless skills employees can acquire to gain a competitive edge. But according to ServiceNow Chief Talent Officer Pat Wadors, the most valuable skill to pick up is actually the skill of learning itself. Hence, we shouldn’t be too worried about what the employees are learning or whether it directly relates to their work. Instead, we want to promote self-directed learning.
All we need to do is to provide a learning system equipped with up-to-date information on relevant topics. This employee-centric approach allows them to choose a subject of focus based on their professional learning goals and perceived business needs of the company. A Deloitte study shows that employees with the tools and autonomy to develop and succeed tend to be more engaged with the organisation, making them 57% more effective and 87% less likely to leave.
Nonetheless, communicate a clear expectation on the amount of time they’re supposed to spend on the initiative. Better yet, help allocate time slots where they can concentrate on learning without the disruption of other urgent tasks and priorities. The frequency and regularity help cultivate a habit to learn. Generally, one hour of learning across a work week is sufficient for learners to retain their learnings for future implementations.
The importance of positive reinforcement in driving desirable behaviours is well established. However, it’s essential to first identify the behaviours we want to encourage before handing out candies to anyone who so much as completes a module.
At its root, the need for learning stems from an ever-widening skill gap: 80% of fresh grads don’t think they possess the skills to do their job. There is a discrepancy between what they were taught in school and what the job really demands. On the other hand, existing employees might be reluctant to break out of their comfort zone. They have developed procedures that work for them, and may question the need for change. But at the rate technology is accelerating, chances are they’re off the pace in industry developments.
As such, we need to shape the perception that learning is truly beneficial for the employees, instead of just another task for them to fulfil. Highlight those who utilise learning in the right way in month-ends, townhalls or quarterly reviews, and showcase the result they reap in tangible terms. Let the examples speak: have a sales manager who halved the time for each sales cycle testify to that being the outcome of her active involvement in a sales enablement programme.
Learning as a Culture
Employees are not the only party that takes some convincing to be aboard the learning train; senior management and other leaders have to agree on its value too. When learning is part of the company’s culture, it becomes ubiquitous. Employees find opportunities to learn at every turn. Knowledge is shared openly and freely to foster a cooperative environment with healthy competitions. In fact, companies with a culture of learning attract more talented employees and produce higher levels of customer satisfaction.
Integrating learning and development as part of the company’s long term strategy is clearly a crucial step in pushing the organization forward. It’s high time leaders recognize it as a necessary investment - seeing as it increases income per employee by 218% - and reward those who manifest the statistics.