Organisations are in a state of flux. Knowledge & technology organisations, more so. Given that the technology & knowledge is always advancing, they cannot afford to lose steam. Continuous learning, is the key for them.
Of course, the same applies to individuals as well. Don’t keep up with the new learnings & you’ve become stagnant in your career. Ignore constant learning at your own peril.
If you were to stop learning today, would you have the tools for everything your work life is yet to present to you? Probably not.
What is Continuous Learning?
Learning continuously is all about enhancing & expanding skillsets that improve your work performance. It involves developing a growth mindset wherein the individual strives consistently to become a better version of herself.
Some times people become complacent with what they have. It is thus very easy to become irrelevant in these rapidly changing times.
For example, short hand typing was once a highly in demand skill. Now it is obsolete.
A consistent learner takes the efforts to keep up with (and master) emerging technologies, concepts and skills.
Importance of Continuous Learning in the Workplace:
There are several reasons why this should be at the forefront of your mind, such as:
1. Staying relevant
Staying relevant means spotting trends, staying updated, and getting ready for the anticipated future. Miss a beat & run the risk of becoming irrelevant in the ever competitive work environment.
2. Preparing for the unexpected
Change is constant in life. Committing to a life of focused learning better prepares you for those changes. For instance, say you lose your employment. If you’re committed to lifelong learning, getting out of your comfort zone requires less amount of efforts.
3. Boosting your profile
No knowledge is ever wasted. Learning new skills helps you in many ways. Boosting your profile and opening up newer and better opportunities being few of them. It also equips you with the ability to take initiative and seek out challenges that previously felt difficult.
Continuous learning is also important because it:
- Builds confidence
- Generates new ideas
…and because it forces you to look beyond yourself. It gives you the skills that may help others when they are stuck and need guidance. They’ll look to you as a leader. This allows you to pass along your love of learning and dedication to the future – yours and theirs.
Benefits of Continuous Learning in the Workplace:
There are benefits associated with professional and personal consistent learning, such as:
- Cost savings
- Employees feel valued
With knowledge, employees feel empowered. The more they know, the more they’ll feel comfortable contributing to an organization.
Turnover rates can skyrocket when employees don’t feel empowered. It’s less expensive to invest in employees than scout, hire, and train new talent.
Learning continuously should not be restricted to professional growth. Personal growth is equally important. In fact each acts as a supplement to the other.
Some benefits of personal continuous learning include:
- Becoming a star player
- Furthering your career
- Obtaining licensure or certification, promotions, and other incentives
- Remaining marketable
…and, most of all, you enrich your life as a whole.
Are Different Learning Styles Better Suited to Continuous Learning?
Getting out of your comfort zone is not an easy task. It is called the ‘comfort zone’ for a reason. But real growth cannot be achieved unless the individual crosses this boundaries of this zone.
The human brain’s hardwired for safety. If you feel safe, it’s comfortable, right? You have little to no anxiety, you feel satisfied, in control, and happy. What’s the problem?
The problem is that within that zone of comfort, you will be secure up to only a certain point of time. The minute someone or something better comes up, you can (& will) be quickly replaced.
If you know your learning style, you can lessen some of the discomfort associated with growth. The best way to do this is with a backwards plan.
“But aren’t we supposed to be moving forward?”
Of course. Think of it like this:
Where do you want to be tomorrow? Next week? Next year, or in five years?
Decide on your endpoint – your goal. Starting there, envision achieving what you set your mind to. Begin mapping the steps backwards. What would have to happen right before you meet your goal? And right before that? Seeing your journey like this can ease your worries about how you’ll do XYZ when you’re not sure where ABC is.
Then, decide the learning style that’s best suited to get you through that growth.
Ways to encourage continuous learning in the workplace
Companies supportive of consistent learning foster an environment of growth and success. Lifelong learning builds a healthy, confident, and better employee. Employees love their jobs and enjoy their life outside work. That’s great for business!
Cultivating a smarter workforce should be one of the biggest goals of any company. Regardless of the employee’s function, critical thinking skills are an advantage. Creative thinking skills are also important.
Here’s a few ideas to help spark focused learning in your colleagues:
- Offer paid training opportunities, whether online or in a classroom
- Ask managers to let staff members learn about other positions in the company
- Send staff members to conferences or other speaking engagements
- Offer tuition reimbursement and student loan payment help
The Bottom Line
Listening to, watching, and reading about successful people won’t make you successful. Continuous, lifelong learning and pushing yourself to greater limits will. Find what works for you, choose the mix of learning styles that fit, and start applying them.
Imagine the places you’ll go.