How to build a lifelong learning culture in a company

How to build a lifelong learning culture in a company

No matter whether your team members work remotely or in the office, the environment around them determines their productivity and satisfaction. If employees are actively searching for new knowledge and take the initiative to improve their skills and, therefore, their lives, your company will thrive along with each employee. If they just wait for their salary and perform tasks passively, they’ll be bored and your business will produce just a fraction of its full value potential.

Here, we’ll see how to reach the first option and avoid the second one.

We can always find, explore, and invent something new, so learning is a lifelong process of searching and creating new knowledge, and the more we’re engaged in it, the more efficient and satisfied we are. One may say that we can hardly be satisfied by the necessity to search for something constantly and tinker with endless chunks of information. It’s true that learning can be boring, but it also can be the most interesting process in the world.

It’s the question of motivation, organization, and management.
But first, let’s define our subject!

What is lifelong learning?

Instead of pushing yourself and others to study something with the stressful feeling of urgency, it’s much more efficient to create a culture of responsibility and accountability where learning is the everyday and engaging process. That’s the lifelong learning definition: the constant journey of exploration of the knowledge present and producing new ones, relevant to each specific situation. It also includes the nurturing of an environment where people are empowered and motivated to learn new things, both for the company and their own personalities.

Thus, lifelong learning meaning includes exploring the vast amount of knowledge present in the modern world with the aim of using it for certain purposes. No information is useful when you cannot apply it to a certain idea, task, concept, or another conscious process. So, the task here is to build an environment where all required tasks are clearly defined and relevant ideas can be easily generated while providing this environment with relevant knowledge such as books, online courses, and infographics.

For efficient lifelong learning education, we need to ensure three the most important components: motivation, organization, and risk management. While the two former are basic elements of any corporate education process, the latter includes a thorough analysis of the skills necessary to learn and each learner’s preferences and predisposition. Based on that, we can determine which knowledge we need and how to use it with the most efficiency for learners. We’ll see how these components apply at the end of the article.

And now, let’s see several well-known examples of their application.

Lifelong learning examples in companies

Some distinguished companies can offer bright examples of lifelong learning, from which you can learn a lot.

Google, for example, has a famous 20% policy that has been in use since as early as the 2000s. It means that all the company’s employees are not only permitted but even highly encouraged to spend approximately 20% of their work time on their side projects. They polish their work skills and increase their work satisfaction greatly, generating new ideas constantly and creating their own projects. Google benefits from it directly: it obtains a high-quality workforce with a great flow of innovative ideas and can buy the best of these side projects, enriching itself even further.

The result is clearly visible to everyone: it’s hard to imagine a more innovative company than Google.

Other companies also build a rich culture of lifelong learning. IBM sees it as its key objective and has a vast online course library for its employees. Knowledge acquisition and mentorship are highly welcomed and rewarded in the company, so its level of technological competency remains very high. The result is also can clearly be seen: IBM is the leading company in quantum computing research, a knowledge-intensive and highly prospective field that will probably explode in the next few years.

What’s the importance of lifelong learning?

The Google example shows clearly why is lifelong learning important, but you probably need a sound list of theses you can use for your objectives. So, let’s see it!
Personal growth
of all learners means that they become better as workers and humans, knowing more about what and how they should do and increasing their performance and activity in all areas.
Personal satisfaction
from learning something interesting and actual is what motivates people to gather new knowledge, and it grows if the person is in an environment where they’re understood and can find something new for them.
Employability
is the person’s ability to perform the company’s objectives. The more relevant skills they know, the more the company’s workflows will drive, creating more value.
Innovational activity
is the amount of new relevant ideas generated, and it’ll obviously increase due to the constantly learning employees.
The communication quality
of the organization grows as people know what they do and why, so they can speak about these subjects easily without the necessity to spend words in vain.
The resilience of the company
also increases greatly: educated and skilled people, thriving in the innovational atmosphere, can tinker with the changed business environment quickly and bring some genius ideas about how we should act. It can not only save the situation but have even more benefits from the changed environment.
Enhanced reputation
is another important element, relevant for any business. Investors will invest money much more easily when they know that the company develops its culture and workforce constantly, generates new ideas, and is responsible for its claims.
That’s about the importance. If you’ll build a lifelong learning culture in your company, you need more specific objectives. Let’s formulate them!

The benefits of lifelong learning

Next, we can proceed directly to the advantages of lifelong learning and see how nurturing such a culture will make your company flourish and fountain with innovative ideas. After that, we’ll see how to actually build such a culture, starting with the objectives you need to reach. So, let’s see them!
Increasing performance
is the first and the most obvious consequence of a successful lifelong learning culture. The better your employees do something, the more value you’ll create and the more revenue you’ll earn. In addition, the more soft skills your company’s staff develops, the better the teamwork and communication between your team members. As a result, the management expenses will decrease, while operational efficiency will grow, which is especially relevant for large companies.
New skill development
includes the possibility that the employee will learn some new skill due to their desire to improve their life and learn something new. Usually, such development begins with a personal interest toward some specific topic so prepare lifelong learning resources based on your employees’ interests. They’ll work more efficiently, earning more money for you and for themselves, while your company’s general development will grow.
Greater job satisfaction
follows from the employees’ opportunity to learn something they want. As mentioned, it’s highly pleasurable to learn something we’re interested in, and science proves it. Happy employees are usually at least 10-15% more productive, according to other studies, so we obtain another productivity boost!
Preparation for future challenges
means that you and all your staff will be ready for changes and problems that arise due to new technologies and business strategies constantly developing. Efficient professional and lifelong learning means a high competency level among employees, so they can not only do their direct jobs better but also analyze market trends and adapt to them.

How to Promote Lifelong Learning in the Workplace

A good reading should end up with something that will get you a new chunk of knowledge about something. Here, we’ll help you with the lifelong learning plan creation to bring everything together, so let’s start with the three most important elements: motivation, organization, and risk management.
Motivation
is the driving fuel for your employees that makes them study something new and then apply it in their work. There is intrinsic and external motivation: the former is the internal desires and wishes of the learner, while the latter shows how the environment influences them. Increase internal motivation by aligning learning materials with learners’ desires and interests and make the process engaging and supportive to enhance external motivation, too.
Organization
is the step-by-step process of the lifelong learning programme creation and optimization. Make sure that you have clearly defined tasks for each learning path, based on your workflow objectives, and set deadlines for each. Create course videos with selected mentors and fill the knowledge base with relevant learning materials. Last, organize the reward system for the best learners in the company and meet learners regularly to evaluate their success.
Risk management
includes measuring the relevance and quality of learning materials, and how they align with learners’ interests and the company’s objectives. Analyze how exactly each learning material provides new knowledge about your workflow completion for employees, create a clear learning success measurement plan, and evaluate each employee’s interests and desires to align the learning plan with them. Using these approaches, you’ll handle possible risks and make your lifelong learning more resilient.
Last, let’s see specific strategies for adopting lifelong learning based on these three elements, so you can apply them to reach the necessary benefits and objectives. It’ll be the best article’s conclusion.
Use gamification and interactive learning
elements where possible. At each stage of learning, you can add elements that motivate learners to complete the course. Use colorful animated infographics so that learners can proceed with ease. A scoring system with rewards for the best performance and badges for course completion are also highly motivational.
Use social learning as the basis
of your lifelong learning. For example, create a company hierarchy where experienced employees become mentors for newcomers, obtaining benefits for successful teaching. In addition, all team members are encouraged to exchange information and ideas when possible, and you’ll monitor that and select the most actual ideas, concepts, and knowledge. Make sure that each social learner participant can leave feedback on each stage.
Provide support at each stage
of all learning processes with the maximum personalization. You can create a unified set of learning courses, but combine them for each learner separately based on their desires. For example, you know that one programmer wants to learn design, while another is in project management: so, you’ll create different course schedules for them. When they are stuck, they ask questions to your support teams and obtain answers as soon as possible, so the lifelong learning will continue!
Create clear learning schedules and reward learners
who complete all tasks on time. It’ll ensure that everyone will study and be motivated enough to complete the courses you’ve assigned to them. They’ll know what to do and what they’ll obtain if they complete the task timely and successfully, so all your company’s learning processes will be well-organized and operating.

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