How to Create and Implement a Continuous Learning Program

Continuous Learning

75.6% of the respondents to PeopleFluent’s State of Continuous Learning survey indicated that they are implementing continuous learning in some way in their organizations to better serve individual employees and the organization overall. This model, when powered by the right strategy and technology, enables employees to develop and improve their skills and knowledge, and allows leaders to align employee learning and performance to overarching business goals.

Continuous learning empowers employees to perform effectively and adapt to changes in the workplace. Interested in building a next-generation learning program? Here are the 4 steps you’ll need to follow to build a program that is successful long-term:

Step 1: Define the Goals of Your Learning Program

In order to create a strategy that works, you need to know what exactly you want to accomplish through your learning initiatives. Understand how you want to influence and empower employees in order to achieve strategic business outcomes. Begin building a program that will encourage and reinforce the behaviors you want employees to learn and exhibit in order to reach the goals your organization is most interested in.

Also, remember that your learning program can support multiple goals; it’s just as important for you to prioritize them. For example, 45% of our survey respondents cite helping employees improve performance in their current positions as a goal, while 42% consider helping employees develop or grow into a new role, such as a promotion, as a goal. There is no reason that a continuous learning program can’t accomplish both things; first, tie learning to employee performance data to help identify and offer opportunities for workers to acquire or sharpen skills that help them in their short term, then create more talent-development-focused content for identified future leaders and for employees who are poised for promotion.

Your continuous learning program can help your workforce accomplish many things; go into the strategy and creation process knowing exactly what you want your program to accomplish for both the employees who participate and the organization itself.

Step 2: Create a Program Structure That Supports Your Goals

Now that you know what you want to happen, build a program that will ensure success. Remember, you can have multiple goals to accomplish, so give your program some flexibility. For example, if one of your goals is to improve employee performance in their current roles, then you should structure your learning program to align with specific performance goals for individuals. This type of alignment requires transparency in talent data, so be sure that your current technologies can support the programs you’re building.

A final thought on structure: if you’re using learning to help shape employee skillsets and behaviors to drive organizational success (which you should be doing), then you need to make sure that your learning program and goals align with business goals for teams or departments, as well as the business as a whole. Just over half of our survey respondents (51.2%) structured their continuous learning with this alignment in mind, so organizations are struggling to make this concept a reality.

Step 3: Use your People Resources

Continuous learning is successful in part because it utilizes the experience and expertise of your high-performing candidates – if you have the right tools in place to take advantage of these people resources.

Live courses, seminars, and conferences are still popular learning techniques, but next-generation learning programs can bolster these learning events by providing more frequent and informal learning opportunities that utilize the skillsets of their own leaders. In particular, on the job training (used by 60.5% of our survey respondents), and on the job mentoring and coaching (used by 51.7% of our job respondents) are useful ways to continue instilling skills and lessons.

There are more ways to utilize these people resources. Digital Learning – using video, social networks, podcasts, and next-generation technologies to connect employees to their entire workforce – can empower your workforce to access a wealth of experience and information that they might not have available to them regularly. For example, remote workers who might not be in the office every day, but who have decades of experience, can be available to other workers through social networks for quick, informal instruction.

Digital learning is the tool that enables organizations to better leverage their people to facilitate true informal, continuous learning. Investing in a learning management system that offers digital learning tools is a great way to maximize the value of your people resources and train your younger workers in ways that they will best respond to.

Use your most valuable people to your advantage; record them performing certain tasks or demonstrating a particular skill; connect employees through social networks or other digital communication mediums; develop mentorship and other collaborative opportunities to better disseminate the information and behaviors you value.

Step 4: Invest in a Next-Generation Learning Management System

Not all learning management solutions are created equal. In order to create a successful continuous learning program, your learning solution should not only support digital learning, including online courses, on-demand content, video, social networking and more, but it should also empower you to connect performance and business data and better align the program to goals. It should also enable you to measure the progress of those goals.

See why PeopleFluent is an industry-leading, award-winning partner for organizations that want to invest in next-generation learning strategies; read IDC’s comprehensive learning management technology evaluation here.


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