With younger generations in the workplace and increasingly in leadership roles, they want more access to continuous learning resources. For those in L&D teams, this means that your learning platforms and learning management systems (LMS) can’t stay at static repositories of courses and materials anymore.
Why is continuous learning important?
It is more important than ever to incorporate continuous learning into an LMS. Busy professionals don’t have the time to search for new sources of knowledge themselves. And hoping that people will stumble across eBooks, videos, books, articles and resources online is too haphazard to rely on as a way of sourcing new knowledge into L&D courses.
Deloitte recommends “flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression” as a model for incorporating continuous learning. Younger generations, in particular, want and need more chances to learn new skills at work. For millennials, availability of professional development opportunities is one of the most important elements of company culture.
Traditional learning models in workplaces are prescriptive. Staff are told what they need to do, given time to learn the material and are usually given a test at the end. They have no control over when or why, or how. Whether this is delivered online, using a video, or in-person instructor-led, learning is simply a task that gets employees out of doing something else. It doesn’t make people want to learn more or take a proactive approach to learning more, or improving how they work.
It is better for employees and employers that staff have more control over what they learn.
Staff who are able to find out more and learn a little every day – instead of every so often (and only when instructed) – are more adaptable, better at taking initiative and make the organizations they work for more agile, cooperative, and sustainable. Team members who want to learn will see this as way to advance careers and make work more enjoyable, consequently creating more value for the organization.
With the right tools and resources in place, managers can take small every-day steps to encourage continuous learning.
How to incorporate continuous learning?
Incorporating continuous learning means having the tools and platforms to make that possible. An LMS is the ideal environment.
But within an LMS, L&D staff need the ability to plugin new resources and knowledge from a wide range of sources. When an LMS is custom-built, you can ensure that it comes with the features your team need to make continuous learning a reality. This could mean the ability to upload videos or plugin resources from third-party sources, such as webinars and online learning platforms.
In traditional learning platforms, those features aren’t always present and customizing an off-the-shelf model either isn’t possible, or would cost too much. What L&D teams need are learning platforms and apps that are as versatile as the styles of learning that employees now want and need. You don’t need to stick with a legacy system that no longer serves the need of your employees.
Team members should also have the ability to upload learning materials that they find and share, with the ability for L&D staff to review and approve before sharing that with everyone else. It is a good sign when employees are searching for knowledge themselves, but some editorial control is always useful for regulatory and compliance purposes.
Establishing a culture of continuous learning and improvement will produce big long-term payoffs. Staff will appreciate the support, put the learning to good use, and see this as a perk and a positive sign of a company that cares about the continuous development of employees.