Published: Oct 24, 2023
Time to read: 6mins
Category: Learning

The Four Es: Your Fast Lane to Continuous Learning

The road to building a continuous learning culture can be long and filled with potholes. Without an effective strategy in place, learning and development (L&D) teams may struggle to navigate around obstacles to employee development. L&D departments must keep pace with the speed of business and advancements in technology to offer solutions that truly fit today’s learners.

If they don’t, they’ll be merely patching holes rather than properly re-paving the way for modern and continuous learning. There are many strategies L&D teams can implement to ensure their employees’ learning needs are being met. This blog post explores continuous learning as a critical strategy and considers four key components that are essential for modern-day workforce training.

Employees want to improve their knowledge and develop their skills, and they’re willing to seek new employment opportunities to do so. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2023 Workforce Learning Report found that three of the top five reasons workers leave a position revolve around employees’ desire to grow in their careers.

Continuous Learning Is the Key

Having an effective professional development strategy is critical to your organization’s success. Employees want to improve their knowledge and develop their skills, and they’re willing to seek new employment opportunities to do so. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2023 Workforce Learning Report found that three of the top five reasons workers leave a position revolve around employees’ desire to grow in their careers. That same report also found that the number one way organizations can work to improve retention is to provide more learning opportunities.

The thing is, it isn’t enough to simply provide access to learning opportunities and call it a day. Learning is not an isolated, one-time event that can be completed with a series of annual training modules. According to the key pillars of andragogy, or the theory of adult learning, employee development is dependent on:

  • How relevant the content is to the employees’ lives
  • Learners’ past experiences
  • Whether the content solves employees’ immediate problems
  • Your employees’ readiness to learn
  • How motivated learners are to develop new skills

When you foster a culture of continuous learning, you’re doing more than merely ensuring that training videos are readily available. A successful learning strategy includes a variety of courses, events, activities, and other on-the-job experiences that appeal to your employees’ professional interests, so it’s essential to take a holistic approach. Effective learning starts with understanding your employees’ capabilities and, especially, the specific ways they consume information.

Your organizational needs must also be considered. It’s great to make a wide range of learning content available, but you must be sure that the content also gives your workforce the skills your company needs to thrive. Structuring your learning culture in a way that encourages your employees to continuously reskill and upskill means investing in a strategy that benefits your employees as individuals as well as your organization as a whole. Effective, continuous learning revolves around a combination of several holistic approaches we call the Four Es: education, experience, exposure, and environment.

READ MORE ON STRATEGY | ‘How a Modern Learning Strategy Is Essential to Your Future Training Efforts

The 4 Es of Continuous Learning

  • Education
  • Experience
  • Exposure
  • Environment

Think of your professional development strategy as a vehicle. The Four Es are your tires. If one tire goes flat, then you’re not going anywhere. Each of the Four Es is essential to cultivating a successful learning plan, and they must all be given your attention.

Education encompasses the core learning formats we often think of in the context of learning and development. These formats, such as compliance training courses, generally have a defined beginning and end and they can be tracked. PeopleFluent offers a rich catalog of formal and informal learning sessions with embedded analytics to help you stay compliant, make timely decisions, and track impact.

Experience includes learning events that generally occur while employees are engaged in their day-to-day work, including stretch assignments, job rotations, and special projects. Giving employees the opportunity to participate in special work assignments or projects allows them to develop and practice newly learned skills. Learning management systems (LMSs) help organizations keep track of these learning experiences while ensuring those experiences are aligned with your overall talent strategy, performance improvement, and mentoring activities.

Exposure comprises learning elements that involve interaction and inter-personal relationships. Employees develop by building connections with other professionals and thought leaders. However, it might not be practical (or even possible) for every employee to get face-to-face exposure to thought leaders and other professionals in your industry. Luckily, social, mobile, and collaborative software solutions encourage enterprise-wide knowledge transfer and engagement, ensuring everyone has an opportunity to build professional connections.

Environment covers the various tools, systems, and other infrastructural elements that employees use to learn in the flow of work, or that support them in their work more generally. All of your efforts to cultivate a continuous learning culture will be wasted if your organization doesn’t have an environment that supports employee development. It’s essential that your LMS offers a user-friendly experience that lets your employees focus on developing their skills, avoiding unnecessary frustration. It’s also imperative that your workforce has access to any tools or hardware, such as computers, tablets, or smartphones, that are necessary for them to learn.

MORE ON INFRASTRUCTURE | ‘Single-Tenant vs. Multi-Tenant Software: Is On-Premise LMS Hosting Right for Your Business?

The Future of Learning and Development

In the ever-evolving world of work, one thing remains certain: maintaining a competitive edge requires companies to create a culture of learning that delivers maximum impact. Building your strategy around the Four Es with a robust LMS can help you get there. The right learning solution makes it easier for organizations to focus on skill building, training, and knowledge sharing so they can get in the fast lane towards continuous learning (and stay there too!).

Whether it’s building skills in entry-level employees or transferring knowledge from veteran workers before they retire, a comprehensive learning solution enables organizations to deliver and facilitate social interactions, collaboration, mentor programs, and video-based learning. As a result, organizations can build a world-class workforce with the knowledge and skills to truly thrive in an ultra-competitive, high-speed marketplace.

Editor’s Note: This blog was originally published in 2016 and has been updated with recent insights and information.

Support Continuous Learning With an Enterprise LMS

Take a holistic approach to employee development with PeopleFluent. Our LMS makes it easy to integrate your L&D strategy with your existing systems and implement the Four Es of continuous learning. To learn more, read our product sheet or request a demo today.

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