Research has shown when organizations empower their employees to become self-sufficient, life-long learners it directly impacts an organization’s ongoing growth, productivity, and ability to build and retain high performing teams.
However, when organizations neglect to support their employees with the right employee-centric learning programs and tools – career growth and employee development often completely go by the way-side, leaving leaders and employees frustrated, and disengaged.
13 experts discuss strategies for how an organization can go about creating an employee-centric learning program in today’s workplace.
Promote learning and development by investing in the right tools.
When companies have the foresight to invest just a tiny portion of the dollars they are losing each year from people inefficiencies, into effective career-pathing, and into modern tools to help employees identify and access relevant learning and development resources – it always results in a huge win for employees, for leaders and above all, the bottom line. There are many things to consider when selecting and implementing employee-centric learning programs, but here are a few vital things to think about as starting point: the tools need to be easy to use, engaging, accessible from anywhere, data-driven, and the results must be customized to the individual’s unique needs, preferences, skills, and talents.
Give Teams Creative Freedom
For employee-centric learning programs to be successful, they can not dwindle after one-time training to learn some hard skills. Encouraging employees to work with their teams to continuously develop their own learning opportunities together as a self-directed unit will allow them to adopt relevant habits that will best work for them.
Promote Creative Workshops
Giving your employees permission to be innovative and think outside of their normal duties is the first step in an employee-centric learning program. Creating workshops that challenge your employees to learn something new or try something hard will inspire the life-long learner within them.
In order to better shine the light on employees, frequent engagement surveys can prove useful in discovering what employees really want and need within the company. The key to making these surveys successful comes from keeping them confidential and actually implementing the things employers are getting feedback on. This will help determine what employees find valuable when it comes to an employee-centric learning program.
Focus on Employee Growth, not Company Benefit
If you want an educational system in place that is actually employee-centric, the courses and certifications should be full of information they can take with them and use elsewhere. Meaning, their certifications should center around personal growth rather than just further driving home company suggestions. A videoconference class with a professor of marketing would likely mean more than a videoconference class with the VP of marketing of your company. The latter makes it seem like employees are going through additional mandated training rather than educating themselves.
Annie deKanter, Brand Development Manager
Offer Financial Assistance
Provide employees with flexible options to develop themselves. This could include things like a stipend for e-learning courses, coverage for professional certifications, or tuition assistance for employees who are in school. Additionally, consider establishing protected time during work hours (even just an hour per week) where employees can focus on their own development without interruption.
Alex Lahmeyer, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Leader
Incorporate Learning into Goals and Evaluations
Encouraging employees to learn new skills is critical for both employees’ careers and the company’s success. To truly integrate learning into the company culture, organizations should incorporate learning into employees’ annual goals/evaluation. Before doing that, employers must provide avenues for employees to further their skills. This can take the form of internal training courses, access to eLearning platforms such as Coursera, or yearly educational stipends to attend industry conferences or take relevant certifications. This will give employees and by extension the company, a competitive advantage in the industry.
Jonathan Pipek, Product Marketing Manager
Use Employee Feedback
Always refer to employee feedback to create an employee-centric learning program. Most professionals are looking for opportunities to grow their skillset and earning potential. A learning program will ultimately affect the employee; accordingly, it should be a collaborative effort where everyone benefits mutually.
Provide a “Menu” of Opportunities
I think the best way is to be dialed in with the employees to ask exactly what they want to learn. It’s also important to provide a “menu” of options for organizations and employees to succeed as well. If those different options are available and organizations have stressed the importance of lifelong learning, it is more likely that the environment will create and cultivate those lifelong learners.
Personalize and Be Flexible
I’ve headed up L&D for global organizations and learning agility is a key factor for successful careering and yet I know that many employees do not take advantage of corporate universities and other learning experiences because there are often too many to choose from. Instead, organizations should be providing curated and personalized learning programs that align with the individual needs as well as the critical needs of the business.
Janet Wise, VP Employer Experience Career Transitions
Be Clear About the Investment
A key to creating an employee-centric learning program is to be very clear about the investment it will take and then reinforce your commitment at every turn. It is one thing to talk about building a learning-rich environment and another thing to back up that commitment with finances, time, and space.
Develop Peer-to-Peer Learning Networks
Uncover peer-to-peer learning networks. Whether internal book clubs, meetings to review Netflix documentaries, or asking employees to record webinars or videos of themselves sharing best practices aligning with the organization’s annual goals, there are fun ways to have employees learn from peers. There is immense power in designing a culture where all employees are encouraged to coach themselves and one another.
Michael S. Seaver, Executive Coach
Build Trust and Encourage Growth
First, they need to trust employees to do their jobs properly after training them. Second, they should have annual goals and evaluations in place that each employee decides how to achieve. Give your employees the autonomy to figure out the best way to level up and travel from Point A to Point B professionally.
Rita Winiecki, Brand Strategist