Having a strong professional learning program is a growing area of importance in organizations around the country. In a LinkedIn survey of more than 500 North American learning and development leaders, 27% said their organizations dedicated more funding to establishing or supporting learning programs within their organizations in 2017.
Professional learning programs are important because they provide the means of improving or enhancing your existing workforce through various forms of ongoing education.
When you’re trying to develop and get a new professional learning program off the ground within your organization, there are a few questions you should first ask yourself:
1) Does Your Company Have a Learning Culture?
Are your employees engaged in learning? Do they actively seek out ways to improve their skills, knowledge, agility, and creativity? An engaged organizational learning culture is one that promotes continuous learning and applies those lessons to daily tasks and functions.
Some of the advantages of having an active learning culture within your organization include:
- Helping employees to grow both as individuals and professionals;
- Improving employee flexibility and creativity; and
- Helping to attract and retain new talent.
2) What Are Your Organization’s Goals and Objectives?
An important component of developing a new professional learning program is to figure out the goals and objectives of your organization.
Think about where your organization and employees are right now. Next, think about where you want your organization and workforce to be in two to five years — where do your employees stand now compared to where you want or need them to be? This will help you to identify any gaps in knowledge or missing skill sets that need to be developed to get your organization from point A to point B.
Examples of gaps could be a lack of strong leaders within the organization — which may mean that you need focus on developing a reliable leadership pipeline — or a lack of specific employee technical skills, such as no one being able to use specific software or technology.
In an interview with Big Think, political analyst and journalist Fareed Zakaria addresses the importance of having a workforce that’s willing and able to continuously learn:
“Any company hiring people will recognize that probably the trait they’re looking for most is not a particular set of skills the but demonstrated ability to acquire skills. Because any company will realize, I think, that what’s crucial is not the particular set of skills you have but that you demonstrate a capacity to acquire them now, because a few years from now, a few months from now it might turn out that you have to acquire new ones.”
3) How Will the Learning Program Content be Delivered?
Integrating a professional learning program into your organization’s culture means making it accessible to all employees. Learning development opportunities are offered by companies of all sizes in a variety of formats, including:
- In-person sessions with an instructor;
- Online courses (with or without a social learning component through online discussions);
- Blended learning courses, which are a mix of online and face-to-face sessions; and
- Video learning via short-form online videos or longer, more comprehensive videos.
Some organizations only choose one method of delivery while others may offer multiple. The benefit of having diverse learning methods in how learning program content is offered is that it helps to meet the needs of your employees by:
- Having courses available when and where they are most convenient for them;
- Providing a social learning and engagement component with colleagues to share ideas and learn from each other;
- Providing multimedia content that includes text, videos, infographics, workshops, tests, and other learning methods to keep content varied and engaging.
Another benefit of online learning programs is that they are available to employees who work remotely. These virtual team members, while still just as important as their office-dwelling counterparts, may feel left out or excluded when professional learning is only offered on-site.
By offering online courses with the ability to engage in social learning with colleagues via group discussions, you’re helping them to feel like they are active participants and valued by the company for which they work.
4) How Do You Get Employees Engaged in Learning?
When you have a culture that encourages employees to actively engage in learning, then you’ll help to develop self-directed learners. Incentivizing self-directed learning (SDL) programs is one way to encourage people to engage in learning.
One surefire way to get employees to engage with and complete courses is to provide engaging and interesting content. Big Think+’s online video learning programs provide different types of content in short-form, easy to watch videos that aren’t seen in strictly text-based courses — it’s meaningful and immediately actionable content.
5) How Will You Monitor Employee Learning Results?
Probably one of the greatest benefits of integrating online components into your learning program is the ability to measure and track the learning interactions. Whenever a video is played or each time an employee engages in an online discussion, data about the interaction can be collected and analyzed. This provides learning development professionals with a way to identify areas of improvement and gauge the success of the program.
Learning programs aren’t just for the top-performing employees. They should be available to everyone within your organization and help to feed and nurture its learning culture. That is why Big Think offers content to limitless users.
Discover how you can make your organization’s learning program most effective. Schedule a demo with a Big Think+ digital learning expert today.