The following is an excerpt from Mindspace’s upcoming ebook, The Innovator’s Learning and Development Checklist: How to Create a Culture of Learning, a guide to creating more effective and memorable learning experiences to cultivate a company culture of learning.
Creating a culture of learning only works if your organization is able to maintain and grow that kind of culture everyday. The greatest courses written by the top subject matter experts, powered by a state-of-the-art LMS and the best trainers in the world will be a wasted effort if they aren’t maintained and evolve within your organization. A true culture of learning requires engaged employees everyday who seek out information on their own and who gain knowledge not just through your team, but through their peers, resources you’ve helped source, and opportunities all around them.
Building opportunities for learning engagements that occur on a daily basis improves the performance and expertise of employees. The learning stacks and the effectiveness multiplies. Even small moments to learn an “unrelated” subject, share knowledge and expand one’s learning network can impact the entire organization.
Maintaining learning everyday means thinking outside the classroom and always looking for new ways to provide information and encourage continuous learning. Fortunately, there are many avenues you can take to accomplish this.
Take Advantage of Micro-moments
Five minutes is a long time, but we rarely take advantage of those extra moments throughout the day—like when an afternoon meeting runs a little short or during those five minutes we’re killing time before heading to lunch. Instead of letting those moments go, we can turn them into opportunities to promote continuous learning using micro lessons.
Training doesn’t have to take 30 to 60 minutes. In fact, there’s growing evidence that micro lessons offer significant advantages when added to traditional learning strategies, including a 2013 study following Spanish medical students which found using micro lessons enhanced participants’ self-learning and self-regulation. By breaking learning down into short five to ten minute blocks, employees can consume the information whenever they have a few extra minutes—either building on knowledge they already have, or learning something completely new.
48% of companies utilize some form of rapid eLearning tool, providing increased accessibility and options for their employees. Micro lessons have many benefits over traditional learning methods:
Easy to work into anyone’s schedule.
Developed quickly to respond to immediate needs.
Provides learning in small chunks which has been shown to improve retention by over 20%.
Can be implemented across a variety of platforms, from your LMS to smartphone apps to YouTube, allowing employees to access the new information however they feel most comfortable.
Even if you’re a classroom purist, effective micro lessons can easily be administered by team leads—you just need to train the trainers. Or you can get creative; something as simple as installing a pop-up display in the corner of your break room announcing all the key features of your latest product launch can have a profound effect on learning and prompt conversations among employees. Adding a brief “Learn Something New” section to your company newsletter can help increase team building and allow employees to better understand different departments. Short creative lessons that happen frequently can be even more effective than all day training classes.
Promote Social Tools
When used the right way, social media can add real time engagement in a format that is familiar to employees in your organization.
Setting up a well curated, company-wide social platform can provide all the positive features of social media—idea sharing, community building, instant collaboration, etc.—without the distractions of personal social media accounts.
Most business-focused social tools are a cross between Twitter and Instant Messenger, allowing users to post to the entire company, pre-defined groups or individuals. For a lot of companies, groups are determined by your department or an ongoing project—but for L&D purposes, groups (sometimes called channels) can be set up for any number of idea-sharing purposes.
Build Step Goals
You don’t learn a foreign language in an afternoon and then remember it for the rest of your life. Effective learning starts small and builds over time. Even once an employee has mastered a subject, continued practice is required to keep the knowledge and stay up to date with new information.
Rather than holding single training sessions for new topics, try setting goals for your employees to learn a new skill or trade in the next 60 days. You can schedule a series of small trainings, mentorship experiences, and opportunities for practice over the set time period.
This could be a company-wide initiative where everyone has the same goal. Alternatively, you can set up department-based goals, or even individual goals. After the goals have been determined, track each employee’s progress along the way while providing feedback and encouragement whenever possible.
Step goals allow employees to see positive results as they directly apply their incremental learnings and continue to improve. In addition to motivating employees, step goals train them to keep learning over time, turning learning into a habit.
Launch a Company App
A recent study found that we touch our phones over 2,500 times a day. When it comes to getting questions answered or learning something new, phones are now the go-to device for most of us. It makes sense to engage employees in the format they are most comfortable with—and these days, that’s on the small screen. Launching a company app has many benefits:
Provides employees instant access to information, whether they’re at their desk, in meetings or anywhere else.
Ideal for hosting short videos and micro lessons.
Push notifications allow easy dissemination of information to employees.
Easily track usage and optimize content for the greatest engagement.
A learning app can take many forms. It could simply be an online knowledgebase filled with instructional guides and other resources, or your organization could create an entire learning library available anywhere. This is an ideal way to host short-form content, since we’re used to engaging with our phones in quick bursts.
Don’t worry if you don’t know the first thing about designing an app. There are plenty of companies that provide complete app solutions—some will even help you set up your own internal app store. And like your LMS, designing and uploading your own content can be fairly simple.
Broadcast Your Vision
Letting your employees see the big picture allows them to better understand how their role fits in the company and feel comfortable offering suggestions and providing feedback. Too often companies create a culture of privileged information that divides employees and prevents easy solutions to problems caused by a lack of communication. It’s important to keep employees in the loop as much as possible including: current projects, company goals and even future plans.
Make sure employees know what progress is being made on current initiatives and keep them abreast of your future goals. By letting all employees know about company needs, the brain power of the organization increases to provide new ideas to complete projects, solve business problems or attain goals. Not everyone is going to seek out knowledge for the sake of knowledge. Some people need a stronger motivator—like the chance to stand out, contribute and feel like they are an important part of the company. By sharing your vision directly with everyone in the company, you can inspire those who are waiting for a reason to learn and be a part of accomplishing goals.
Broadcast information in ways that will reach employees and keep them informed. Whether that is posting regular updates on your intranet site (or app), or uploading audio or video from planning meetings to a shared drive. The more ways you present the information, the more opportunities for employees to be engaged.
These are just a few tools your L&D team can use to engage employees in continuous learning. The key to remember is a true culture of learning requires a variety of learning opportunities that will engage and excite all types of employees—those that seek out learning opportunities and those that need it forced upon them. That means your list of tools should always be growing. But that’s good because it means you have to keep learning too!
Edited by Josh Gordon, Senior Copywriter and Content Strategist at Mindspace
Art by Toby Riley, Art Director at Mindspace