Continuous Learning: A Definitive Guide

Learning is meant to be a never-ending process. It shouldn’t end upon graduation from the university or college. This is because continuous learning makes you stand out from others.

Furthermore, the workplace is dynamic. New technologies are constantly emerging. As a result, new problems arise and new methodologies are put in place to tackle them. Therefore, the onus is on employees to stay abreast with trends by striving to gain improved knowledge and skills within their field of operations.

Also, employers should endeavor to create an enabling environment for continuous learning as the organization’s productivity is at the mercy of employees’ competence to perform their job.  Moreso, to stay competitive in your industry, you need employees who are innovative and flexible to change.

In addition, learning is not only important to employees but to everyone because proactive learning is the bedrock for growth and excellence in life and in the workplace.

This article explores the concept of continuous learning; its importance, examples, and the ways to enhance it in the organization.

What Is Continuous Learning?

Generally, continuous learning is the process of acquiring new knowledge and skills on a constant basis. Professionally, it is a concept in which employees constantly learn new skill sets and gain knowledge to increase expertise and enhance their careers.

It is important to note that continuous learning is not totally the same as lifelong learning. Personal and long-term commitment towards acquiring new knowledge is termed lifelong learning.

On the other hand, continuous learning is a part of lifelong learning that focuses on incessant employee training and development within an organization.

Learning can be in form of training in hard skills such as the use of new software or operation of new machines, etc. It can as well be training to improve soft skills like communication skills, leadership skills, or negotiation skills, among others.

Furthermore, training could be formal, that is, organized or sponsored by the organization. As an employee, you may also gain more knowledge and skills through self-directed learning by taking advantage of the many online courses available today.

Whatever the case, the crux of continuous learning is that it is ongoing. It is the idea of always seeing the need to become better by improving on your existing skills and expertise. In others words, it means incorporating learning into your lifestyle.

SEE: In-depth Guide on Adult Learning

Benefits of Continuous Learning To Organizations

The importance of continuous learning to employees and organizations cannot be overemphasized. Whether it is training towards improving soft skills or hard skills, fostering a learning culture within the organization improves productivity and enhances competitiveness.

Here is a list of benefits that organizations derive from encouraging continuous learning:

1. Fosters creativity and innovation

The business landscape is constantly evolving. Organizations that refuse to move with the trend are quickly losing out on market share to organizations that are constantly seeking innovative ways to do business.

What is important to note is that employees are the brain behind an organization’s creativity and innovation. Innovation and creativity on the other hand is not talent rather it is a product of constant learning.

Continuous learning opens the mind to possibilities you never thought existed. Also, employees are able to think creatively for new ways to do things and seek solutions to problems that may arise within the company.

2. Increases productivity

Better qualified employees equal better productivity which may equally lead to an increase in sales. For instance, training staff members on customer relationship management is sure to positively affect customer service and retention.

It may also be training on how to use new tools or software. This updated knowledge may help to increase the production of goods or services rendered daily, reduce time wastage, or improve the quality of your services or products.

Furthermore, it may be training on teamwork or creative thinking. All of these improve employees’ expertise and performance on the job. In the end, organizations are able to meet their goals and experience exponential growth.

 3. Improves employee satisfaction and retention

Research shows that employees are happier and more loyal to organizations that facilitate career development through regular training. Also, the primary cause of employee turnover in organizations is demoralization from lack of career growth.

Employees feel valued and motivated to work in organizations where they have the opportunity to grow not just by years of experience but through proactive training organized by employers.

As such, companies that are deliberate about continuous learning enjoy high retention rates and record greater success.

4. Improves competitiveness

Do you wonder why some organizations are thriving and others are struggling? The core reason is that thriving organizations commit resources to develop their manpower.

These employees in turn are able to bring up ideas that can help the company serve the market better. Also, through continuous learning employees constantly improve their knowledge and skill. As such, they can achieve higher levels of proficiency in dispensing their job functions than employees in organizations that fail to train their staff.

5. Reduce the cost of hiring

The cost that comes with hiring new staff is draining. Not only is it financially draining, but it is also time-wasting. It also means that the organization would bear the burden of constantly training new staff members on job functions that they may not be conversant with. All of these negatively impact productivity.

But with high employee retention companies are able to cut costs on hiring new employees again and again. This is because the competition for highly skilled individuals in the job market is intense, and it is thought that an individual chooses an organization that not only offers excellent remuneration but also encourages career development.

Benefits Of Continuous Learning To Employees

Here are ways by which employees benefit from constantly improving on skills and knowledge:

1. Improves employee’s performance

It is not surprising that employees who are consistent with learning perform better on the job than their counterparts. The result of always updating your knowledge and skills is that you stand out from others.

2. Promotion and career development

Individuals who do not see any need to update their knowledge and skills on the job are most likely stuck on a level for years. The good thing about consistent learning is that employees become more competent to take higher roles within the organization. They can even graduate into mentors to junior staff.

3. Relevance

Knowledge is progressive and the development within the workplace is fast-paced. Therefore, the only guarantee to staying relevant in the workplace is by constantly updating oneself with new knowledge and skills.

SEE: Reasons Why Employee Development is Important

Examples of Continuous Learning

There are myriads of avenues or ways through which employees can constantly learn to increase their knowledge and skills:

1. Formal learning

This is also known as structured learning. Here the teacher or lesson instructor determines the lesson objectives. They often make use of a syllabus, and instructional materials to guide learners.

Also, they are group-based forms of learning and could take days, weeks, or years. Typical examples include university courses (online or physical), workshops and seminars, online courses.

The good thing about formal learning programs is that it helps establish goals, offers expert knowledge, and gives employees the tools they need to excel in their role.

2. Self-directed learning

This form of learning doesn’t involve the evaluation or assessment from a teacher. Learners learn on their own; determine their style of learning and learn at their pace.

Information is everywhere. As such, employees no longer have to depend solely on employers for training on the job.

Through determination and voluntary commitment to learning, individuals can gain better knowledge and upskill. Examples of self-learning involve reading books, taking online courses, listening to audiobooks, carrying out research and experimenting, etc.

SEE: How To Be A Pro In Self-Learning and Development

3. Social learning

This is a form of learning in which learners learn from observation and interaction with each other. It is a common type of learning because it happens subconsciously or consciously.

However, systems can be put in place to make social learning more effective. One of such is coaching and mentoring within the organization.

Organizations can encourage knowledge sharing and promote continuous learning from within by apportioning a group of individuals or an individual to a qualified and experienced individual.

The goal would be to train, assess and evaluate these individuals so that can become as gain knowledge and expertise, and ultimately be able to train other new employees in the organization.

Furthermore, employees can constantly learn from discussions in groups, online forums, blogs, etc.

SEE: Detailed Guide on Social Learning

How To Encourage Continuous Learning In The Workplace

Combining continuous learning with work is not an easy thing to do. Considering that employees have to meet up with the organization’s goals and at the same time create time to improve their knowledge and skills.

Moreso, not everyone is self-motivated or disciplined enough to push their selves to learn all the time. So, how do employers or organizations help employees to imbibe the culture of learning constantly?

1.  Engage employees

It is possible that most of your employees have a way by which they gain more knowledge and skills. Therefore, a good way to start is to access how they have been learning by engaging them in a talk whether personally or group-based.

You may then use the result from your assessment to make decisions on what strategies to adopt for continuous learning within the organization.

It is advisable for multinationals to adopt online training through learning management platforms or In-app digital training solutions. There are other options to consider depending on your employees’ preferred choice.

2. Make it a part of your business goals

One of the best ways to enshrine continuous learning is to endorse it as part of the organization’s goals and objectives by making an actionable plan around it.

Over time, employees will imbibe the culture of learning always. Also, be careful not to be coercive in your approach. The goal is for employees to be personally motivated towards learning and to please employers.

Also, making it a part of the organization means that new employees learn the culture of constantly learning from the get-go.

3. Encourage and reward learning

Employers can encourage constant learning in the organization through exemplary leadership. This means that supervisors and managers in the organization should be fully committed and engaged in constant learning so as to encourage others in the lower echelon.

Furthermore, by rewarding individuals who constantly improve their skills and knowledge, more employees can be motivated to learn.

FAQs

Is lifelong learning different from continuous learning?

Yes. Lifelong learning is a personal and voluntary commitment to constant learning to gain knowledge. While continuous learning focuses on fostering consistent employee development on the job.

Why should you learn continuously?

Continuous learning helps you improve your knowledge and skills proficiency on the job. Also, consistent learning makes you highly valuable to your organization. As such, it will be difficult to displace you in case of downsizing.

Is continuous learning for life?

Yes. Continuous learning is never-ending. It means seeing a need to always get better regardless of your level of expertise.

How can you learn continuously?

You can learn continuously by always reading books that are in line with your career, listening to podcasts, taking online courses, and looking out for organizations that are interested in creating a positive experience for their workforce.

Summary

As said earlier, continuous learning is a bedrock for growth and excellence in life and the workplace. Therefore, both employees and employers should prioritize it.

In addition, organizations witness greater productivity, better employee retention, and competitiveness by committing resources to the training of their employees. Employees also experience career development and satisfaction by regularly updating their skills and knowledge.

Furthermore, you don’t have to wait for your employer to organize training and seminars in the organization. You can take advantage of several online courses. Also, you may read articles on blogpost to gain additional knowledge. Lmshero.com is an excellent platform where you constantly read helpful articles to add to your knowledge.

Lastly, you can check the article on smart learning to discover the best ways to learn.

I hope you got value. Thanks for reading.