The Business Case for Continuous Learning in the Workplace

The Business Case for Continuous Learning in the Workplace

Damian Hehire-learning

The Business Case for Continuous Learning in the Workplace

Continuous learning is where employees are encouraged and supported to constantly upskill, reskill, and refresh existing skills. It requires a learning culture and a range of processes and initiatives that facilitate learning in the workplace. Examples of those processes and initiatives include e-learning courses, mentorship programmes, learning resources, on-the-job training opportunities, and funded continuing professional development programmes.

Establishing continuous learning in a workplace is a big undertaking, so what is the payback? What can you expect from implementing and then nurturing continuous learning in the workplace, and what are the benefits? Here is the business case for continuous learning.

People Management, HR, Teamwork, and Collaboration

Employees benefit from the opportunities that continuous learning initiatives offer as they can become better at their jobs while opening up new opportunities. There are also important benefits to employers that contribute to the compelling case for continuous learning in the workplace.

  • Improves staff retention
  • Enhances employee engagement

Improves Staff Retention

Employees are more likely to stay with an organisation if they feel they are developing professionally. They will also have more confidence in their abilities and the contribution they can make to the company.

Enhances Employee Engagement

Engaging employees in the organisation’s mission, vision, and purpose is crucial to achieving company-wide goals. Continuous learning can help with this by getting employees more engaged with the topic areas and priorities that are important to the business.

Business Operations, Objectives, and Competitiveness

There are also direct business benefits that come with a continuous learning approach – benefits that directly and positively impact the bottom line.

  • Sparks innovation
  • Improves processes
  • Improves agility
  • Improves performance and reduces risks
  • Facilitates faster growth

Sparks Innovation

Training in certain topic areas can spark innovative thinking, helping employees come up with new ideas, often involving complex and challenging issues. There are many reasons for this, including employees being able to put new skills to use and/or looking at an issue from a different perspective.

Improves Processes

Employees can also use new skills and knowledge to improve business processes and workflows. These improvements can deliver efficiency and productivity gains, as well as enhancing critical areas such as customer service, communication, and collaboration.

Improves Agility

A continuous learning approach means it is more likely your organisation will have the skills it needs to quickly adjust to market requirements, take advantage of new opportunities, or avoid emerging risks.

Continuous learning doesn’t just improve the agility of the organisation, either, as the agility and resilience of employees will also improve. For example, employees will be better equipped and quicker to react (at an individual level) to changes in the marketplace.

Improves Performance and Reduces Risks

Learning and training in the workplace should deliver tangible results, including behavioural change, improved levels of performance, or lower exposure to risks. With a continuous learning approach, performance improvements and risk reductions are ongoing, with both categories getting better over time.

Facilitates Faster Growth

Ultimately, a continuous learning culture will ensure your organisation has the skills and capabilities it needs to achieve its growth goals.

Training and Development

Employees benefit from continuous learning, as does the organisation as a whole. There are also advantages to the training and development function of your organisation.

  • Breaks knowledge silos
  • Quickly bridges skills gaps
  • Facilitates rapid reskilling and upskilling
  • Delivers better learning and development ROI

Breaks Knowledge Silos

Knowledge silos lead to inefficiencies and can significantly increase the risks your organisation faces. An example of the latter is where you have a subject matter expert (SME) but nobody else with a similar skillset or level of knowledge. This type of situation can cause considerable difficulties if something happens to that SME, such as resignation, retirement, or illness.

Continuous learning helps to break down knowledge silos so there are people who can step into roles or complete tasks whenever they are required.

Quickly Bridges Skills Gaps

One of the main tasks of the training and development function of your organisation is to identify and bridge skills gaps. This process can be accelerated with a culture of continuous learning, as there is a constant focus on identifying and resolving skills and knowledge areas that can be improved.

Facilitates Rapid Reskilling and Upskilling

Even with a continuous learning approach, situations can arise where employees need to be trained quickly in a particular topic area. Continuous learning means employees are fully familiar and comfortable with learning new or enhanced skills, so reskilling and upskilling can be completed more quickly.

Delivers Better Learning and Development ROI

Learners who are used to training programmes and initiatives and are engaged with the process will:

  • Grasp new topics quicker.
  • Be more engaged with the learning process.
  • Be more willing to implement what they have learned and change their behaviours.

This leads to better returns on investment for your training initiatives, from online training courses to onboarding processes to mentorship programmes.

No Benefits in Delaying

The advantages of continuous learning don’t take long to materialise, so it makes sense to get started sooner rather than later. Furthermore, while you might need to develop some new training materials and initiatives, there is no requirement for a significant initial investment in money or resources.

Implementing continuous learning is more about adopting the right corporate mindset. Some processes and policies might need updating, and good leadership is necessary to make it a reality. The best time to start is now.