In today’s competitive job market, applicants and employees seek companies committed to learning and development. This focus on growth is critical for attracting and retaining top talent. To develop or increase your company’s focus on professional development, you need to take specific steps to both offer learning opportunities and gain employee participation. With that in mind, here are some tips to help you create a learning-focused workplace culture.
Learning and professional development comes in many flavors—not just in the form of expensive conferences or courses at a university. Work with your HR department to identify existing learning tools and opportunities (like internal professional development workshops or subscriptions to publications). Inexpensive learning platforms like Lynda.com offer many different courses.
Don’t forget free options too! A bevy of free webinars exists on hundreds of topics. Your team can even run their own “Lunch and Learn” series with different guest stars from around the department or company sharing their expertise on interesting topics (Example: “Top Excel Tricks”).
Reward continuous learning
In order to change your workplace’s culture more quickly, you can reward employees who participate in learning and development activities. In addition to acknowledging their efforts, find a way to offer a small gift card, a few extra hours of PTO, or something else meaningful. The exact approach can be based on how in-depth and time-consuming the learning objective is and how much effort employees make to reach it.
Couple constructive criticism with clear guidance
Constructive feedback is important in the workplace, particularly when you are trying to help your team develop a growth/learning mindset. When you couple constructive criticism with guidance, you create learning opportunities. Managers should let their employees know what did and didn’t meet expectations and help them develop a plan for improvement including skill development activities. Supervisors must then work as learning advocates and ensure their team members have access to the necessary resources.
It starts at the top
Senior executives need to actively promote learning and development in their organizations. That includes providing time and budget for these activities. If management is passionate about employee growth and openly shares their commitment to it, their teams will feed off of that energy and participate.
Creating a learning and development culture isn’t an easy task but it is well worth the benefits in terms of employee performance, engagement, and overall business success. Good luck!
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