Developing a Culture of Continual Learning

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Developing a Culture of Continual Learning

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Turnover is expensive and finding quality employees is challenging. Research shows that offering competitive benefits and fostering employee development are two of the top ways to keep skilled employees and build loyalty. 

Developing a strong continual education program accomplishes both objectives and provides an employer with increased productivity and performance from an educated staff.

It’s important to differentiate between creating a continuing education program and a continual education program. All too often the status quo of continuing education calls for taking occasional courses to meet minimum requirements. “Continual learning” on the other hand, replaces the “low-hanging fruit” mindset with a measurable, ongoing, collaborative culture that encourages progressive learning and constant growth — raising the bar and increasing the real value of education.

A well-conceived and conscientiously implemented program of continual education improves both individual job performance and overall operations.

Here are 10 easy steps to creating such a program:

1 – Ensure quality. Quality over quantity, as the saying goes. Make sure that compliance to regulatory standards and content quality are the first priority.

2 – Include everyone. Too many organizations include only those employees in positions that require continuing education. Build a culture of continual learning that includes everyone.

3 – Create a standardized curriculum. Defeat the random course mentality and create a core program of study with measurable goals, objectives, rewards and recognition. Consider that not everyone learns the same way and use tools to address everyone: online, hands on, mentoring, etc.

4 – Incorporate an interactive, convenient and easy-to-use online component. The convenience of an e-learning program is expected in today’s culture. In addition to this, the more interactive the program is, the more valuable it’s considered. Make certain the program is user-friendly and performs well to ensure frequent use and engagement.

5 – Extend your program. Supplement your core training with one-off opportunities at trade events, seminars and product demonstrations. Remember, too, that some of the best learning opportunities come from peer-to-peer sharing. Find ways to incorporate discussion so your employees can contribute to each other’s learning experiences. 

6 – Customize the experience for your organization. Add content that is specific to your organization or facility. Spend a little extra, if necessary, to create a personalized learning environment.

7 – Build in incentives. Drive your culture change by including performance recognition, providing rewards, and creating internal competitions.

8– Manage your cost. Traditional continuing education is expensive. Most operations spend more than they think on hidden costs of travel, time off for attending live events, replacing employees, etc. Building your own training program can be costly, but will save you money in comparison and bring you a long-term return on investment.

9 – Brand your program. Customized branding makes it your own, demonstrating a commitment to fostering employee development and thereby building employee loyalty.

10 – Don’t go it alone. Find a partner company that can provide the tools and consultation to make it convenient and cost-effective to establish, continually develop, and administer your program. This will significantly improve your product and reduce your cost.

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