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Continuous learning

Continuous learning

Table of Contents

    Learning is no longer confined to the walls of a classroom.

    We live in the information age, where knowledge is power. So, companies have to keep learning to stay competitive and successful.

    That’s where continuous learning comes in. It’s a way for organizations to develop the workforce and futureproof the business. 

    With so much riding on professional development, we’ve put together this guide on continuous learning in the workplace.

    Keep reading to discover:

    • What continuous learning is 
    • Why continuous learning is so crucial
    • The benefits of continuous learning 
    • How to support a continuous learning culture in your organization 


    What is continuous learning?

    Continuous learning is the ongoing process of getting new skills and knowledge. For individual learners, this means actively seeking out new information and development opportunities.

    For organizations, it’s about giving team members the competencies they need to adapt to changes and stay competitive in an ever-evolving business environment. In other words, providing ongoing training and creating an environment where learning is embedded in the culture.

    Sometimes, continuous learning is also called constant learning or lifelong learning. 

    No matter what you call it, continuous learning can take many different forms. From formal employee training programs and online courses and even informal learning opportunities, such as on-the-job learning, seminars, conferences, and mentoring. 

    It doesn’t have to stop there, either. Podcasts and posts on social media like LinkedIn can be part of continuous learning as well. As long as you’re regularly acquiring new knowledge and skills—that’s continuous learning! 

    The true hallmark of an organization with a culture of continuous learning is consistency. So, if development is a core principle in your business and learning opportunities are abundant, you’re probably doing it right.

    But why is it all so important? We’ll answer that question in the next section.


    Why is continuous learning important?

    Change is the only constant in the ever-evolving business world, and learning is the key to staying relevant and competitive.

    Markets change, technology advances, and unexpected events such as the Covid-19 pandemic come along and upend the status quo. Companies have no choice but to adapt, and continuous learning helps them achieve this.

    Whether it’s adopting new technologies, pivoting during an unexpected crisis, or adjusting to industry changes, a continuous learning culture prepares the workforce for future challenges.

    Adaptability isn’t the only reason why constant learning matters. It can also improve innovation and employee engagement (more on that below).

    Up next, we deep dive into the benefits of continuous learning.


    Three benefits of continuous learning for organizations

    We’ve bigged up continuous learning quite a bit in this guide. 

    Now you’re probably wondering exactly what benefits you can expect if you implement it in your organization. 

    While the list below is not exhaustive, these are the three main benefits of continuous learning.


    Benefit #1: Improves performance

    The link between employee satisfaction and productivity is well known. In fact, companies with high engagement report a 22% increase in productivity.

    This is because engaged and motivated employees feel a sense of purpose and passion in what they do. 

    Learning is an integral part of the employee engagement equation. Human Resource departments worldwide have realized this and are prioritizing learning, starting from onboarding new employees.

    While all employees become more motivated if they’re offered relevant learning experiences, this effect happens most with millennials. According to Gallup, 59% of the millennial workforce say professional development is extremely important to them. 

    It’s pretty clear. If you want your employees to be at the top of their game performance-wise, you need to engage them first. And having a continuous learning culture with a variety of development opportunities is the smartest way to achieve this.


    Benefit #2: Employee retention

    Learning and development in a company is about more than just engaging employees. A work environment that rewards and promotes learning helps you retain employees too. 

    Is employee retention important? Well, estimates say employee churn costs US businesses $1 trillion every year, so it’s a yes from us. 

    Luckily, there’s a way to fight employee turnover. The same thing that makes employees engaged will keep them in your organization. Engaged employees aren’t just motivated to do their jobs as best they can, but they also feel more connected to your company. 

    That’s if your company gives them the things they’re looking for. As we mentioned before, more and more employees are saying that professional development opportunities are what they want. 

    It makes sense that people who feel empowered and like their work are more likely to stay—65% more likely to stay, to be exact.

    Access to relevant formal and informal training makes employees feel more empowered, especially if that includes social and self-directed learning.


    Benefit #3: Better customer experience

    Customer experience counts a lot. It’s one of the most powerful ways to differentiate yourself from the competition. It also drives customer loyalty. 

    Educated employees can help customers more and offer them a better experience. Sales enablement and sales training are an important part of this, but you can’t rely completely on one-and-done training programs. 

    Your product changes, the market changes, and customer needs change too. 

    Keeping up with this is only possible through continuous and agile learning.

    Continuous learning ensures your employees have access to the necessary knowledge to excel in their roles. For instance, providing regular product knowledge training via a Learning Management System (LMS) means sales teams have 24/7 access to the most up-to-date product information. As a result, they can offer potential buyers the best possible service without the scramble.

    The same goes for soft skills. Providing staff with on-demand access to soft skills training allows them to develop essential competencies and thrive in their jobs.

    Even providing informal learning through an LMS can work wonders for employee performance. For example, creating channels for staff to share industry or role-related articles, videos, or news is an effective and low-effort way to drive constant learning.

    Coming up next, we reveal some expert tips on how to support continuous learning in your company. Don’t miss out!


    How to support continuous learning in an organization

    It’s time to put the theory into practice as we explore how to facilitate continuous learning in your company. 

    Here are four strategies that work.


    Strategy #1: Identify learning gaps

    Before implementing continuous learning, it’s a good idea to identify learning gaps in your organization. A learning gap is a difference between what a learner should have learned and what they did learn. 

    Pinpointing learning gaps will help you see where there’s a lack of engagement in your training programs and allow you to revise your learning objectives.

    Here are the types of learning gaps:

    • Knowledge gaps: Learners haven’t had exposure to the right information or haven’t learned it properly 
    • Skill gaps: Employees lack the skills to do their jobs right
    • Motivation gaps: Learners are not motivated to learn
    • Environmental gaps: The environment learners are in is not conducive to learning 
    • Communication gaps: There are communication breakdowns in your training programs, whether during planning or execution 

    It’s a good idea to get your employees’ feedback. What do they wish they were learning? Which training doesn’t feel relevant to their work? Are they motivated, and if not, why not?

    Learning is an ongoing process in any organization. Alongside your formal training programs, informal learning is happening, too—breakroom chats, team meetings, webinars, social media posts, etc.

    An LMS isn’t just ideal for delivering formal and informal training. It also provides L&D teams with valuable analytics and metrics. These allow you to pull comprehensive reports and use the data to evaluate the impact of training and any shortcomings.

    Once you know what areas to focus on, you can start building the appropriate training courses and strategies.


    Strategy #2: Encourage learning

    You’ve identified the gaps, planned your training program, and decided to prioritize professional development and learning in your company. 

    What’s next?

    Time to motivate employees to learn and take learning seriously. 

    A powerful way to do this is to lead by example. If learning doesn’t seem to be a priority for the managers and senior staff, why would anyone else bother?

    Having an open dialogue about learning and learners’ needs is also very important. It shows that the company is receptive to feedback and truly wants to support employees in their learning efforts. 

    Most importantly, however, is to give employees time and resources to learn. Learning takes time, even microlearning. If your employees can’t even take 10 minutes off their schedules to complete a microlearning module, there won’t be any learning happening, let alone continuous.

    So, give your employees the time, tools, and resources to learn. Designated learning time, a robust LMS packed with training content, and stipends for self-directed learning are great places to start. Not only do they empower staff to take ownership of their development, but they integrate learning into their daily workflows.


    Strategy #3: Make learning engaging

    Learning leads to engaged workers, but there’s a catch. Learning has to be engaging to reap this reward. 

    If not, knowledge retention suffers, and before you know it, all those learning gaps open up again. 

    To avoid this, make learning relevant and meaningful. Think carefully about learning experience design, and avoid overwhelming learners with information overload. 

    Personalization plays a huge role in learner engagement, so ensure you align training programs with employees’ needs, job roles, and learning styles. That’s where a powerful LMS like Docebo saves the day.

    With Docebo, you can build personalized learning paths tailored to individual employees’ career journeys. As a result, training is relevant, personalized, and accessible. 

    Plus, we know from adult learning theories that autonomy and self-direction are essential.


    Strategy #4: Use incentives

    Incentivize learning to make it more engaging and keep motivation high. Small tokens of appreciation for top learners will go a long way and stir up some healthy competition too. 

    Speaking of competition, if you use an LMS you’ll definitely want to take advantage of gamification features. 

    Inspired by video games, Learning experience designers use achievements, badges, high scores, and leaderboards to reward employees for completing training activities. 

    It’s up to you how far this goes. For example, a certain number of points could lead to a tangible prize like a voucher or financial reward or simply a shoutout on your corporate communication tools. Alternatively, these points could be considered during the selection process for internal promotions.

    Almost done! Stay tuned for a quick recap of the continuous learning best bits.


    In closing

    Continuous learning is an ongoing process and a mindset. It’s about empowering employees to actively seek learning opportunities and giving them the tools and resources to do so.

    It’s also mutually beneficial. 

    Employees get limitless development opportunities, leading to higher engagement, increased performance, and improved employability. 

    On the other hand, businesses enjoy a highly-skilled workforce that can constantly adapt to future challenges and innovate while providing exceptional customer care. 

    A full-featured LMS, such as Docebo, supports organizations in building a culture of continuous development. L&D professionals can create, manage, and track formal and informal training programs from one platform and automate time-consuming training management tasks. 

    As a result, this frees up more time for meaningful work like promoting your next learning initiative. 

    Want to know more about win-win learning strategies? Check out our glossary for more insights.