Continuous Learning is the Key to Knowledge Retention
Reuben O'Connell
5 minutes
April 3, 2023

Similar to how food and water nourish our body and provide us with means to grow, develop, and perform activities, knowledge and continuous learning do the same for our mind. This is specifically important in workplaces to create an environment of productivity and innovation. 

Not only is it important in the workplace, employees expect it too. According to a LinkedIn report, 94% of employees stated they would stay longer with a company if it invested in their career development. To fully understand the importance of continuous learning and how to implement it in your workplace, continue reading!

What is continuous learning? 

Continuous learning is precisely what it sounds like—consistently attaining new knowledge and information. However, in professional terms, it is much more than that. By intentionally gaining new knowledge, you expand your current skill set, acquire new skills, and pave the way for personal and organisational development. 

Many employers slip up by treating continuous learning as a one-off thing. Your employees will not be able to succeed if they only attend one or two seminars a year. If they don’t get the chance to put the newly acquired information to use or expand on it, they’ll most likely forget all that they’ve learnt. According to studies, in as little as 30 days, 79% of knowledge is forgotten. 

To have your employees move up to complex and challenging roles and pass on the knowledge to their peers, you must treat continuous learning as a long-term organisational process. 

To plan how to implement continuous learning in your organisation, it’s essential to understand its different types.

Are there different types of continuous learning? 

There are three different types of continuous learning:

Structured learning

Structured or formal learning is the traditional form of corporate learning. These activities are usually held in person and help hone hard and soft skills. Examples are instructor-led classes, workshops, lectures, and lunch-and-learn seminars/activities.

However, it’s not always possible for employees to attend physically, so structured learning can also take place online in the form of online classes, online meetings, and pre-recorded lectures with testing afterwards with assignments, projects, or quizzes. 

Self-directed learning

Self-directed learning is one of the most popular forms of continuous learning, as employees can learn at their own pace and whenever convenient. Examples include online courses, reading recommended books, online certifications, etc. 

This empowers the employee by allowing them to learn how they see fit while nurturing skills like self-starting, independence, motivation, and commitment. So it’s no surprise that 58% of employees prefer this learning method.

Social learning

Employees can learn much more about their responsibilities and learn new skills from their coworkers and managers, which is why social learning is one of the, if not the most important, forms of continuous learning. This is why fostering a culture of positivity and support is vital so that employees feel comfortable seeking help and engaging with their peers outside of direct work responsibilities.  

A great way to boost social learning is by implementing a mentorship program where employees can engage with one another directly and hold each other accountable for the progress they make. 

📖 Find out more about what a mentor is in our guide 📖

Why is continuous learning important? 

Not only do the employees benefit from continuous learning, but the organisation does too. Below are some of the benefits of continuous learning to the organisation.

Knowledge retention 

First, in an environment that encourages continuous learning, employees are more likely to retain the knowledge they’ve learnt.  When employees are regularly acquiring new knowledge, have the opportunity to revisit what they’ve learnt, and have managers and peers to lean on and learn from, their memory stays sharp, and information retention improves. 

To improve on this, utilising micro-learning can help; this is where employees are given bite-sized information, which is easier to grasp, and can increase the long-term retention rate by up to 50%.

Millennials prefer it 

By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, so it’s in the organisation’s best interest to take in this generation’s values, needs, and preferences. 

It’s also important given the current Great Resignation going on and millennials being known as the ‘job-hopping generation’. However, millennials hold professional development in high regard and expect their employers to invest in their learning and provide growth opportunities, making continuous learning a significant deterrent to churn. 

📖 Find out more about tackling the great resignation and talent churn in our guide 📖

Performance improves 

It’s not a secret that engaged and determined employees perform better—they feel a sense of purpose in their work and strive to do their best. Not only that, they come to view their organisation as their own and work to ensure its success. 

By investing in their training and providing them with an environment of continuous learning, you are ensuring they remain motivated and can tackle their responsibilities in a smarter way. If you still need convincing, employee engagement leads to a 40% increase in profits

Having the edge over your competitors

A knowledgeable workforce is an enlightened one. By investing in continuous learning, you’re guaranteeing;

  • Decrease in existing skill gaps
  • A culture of innovation and collaboration 
  • Employees that are self-starters and more proactive
  • Industry relevance
  • Learning opportunities are not missed 

How can we implement continuous learning in the workplace? 

Now that we’ve covered the importance of continuous learning, the question is, how do you implement a culture of continuous learning in the workplace successfully?

Before you get into booking seminars, launching online courses, and assigning readings to employees, brainstorm a strategy, check whether it meets your organisation’s needs, refine it, and then implement it.

Going into this without a proper strategy could result in the opposite of what you’re expecting, as every workplace has different needs, and one strategy could work for one organisation but could tank for the other.

So let’s go over a few ways to foster a continuous learning culture:

1. Make learning accessible 

The learning environment is important to keep in mind when you’re planning learning journeys for your employees. Your workers need to have flexible options as there isn’t a one-fits-all in this case. Ensuring inclusivity and flexibility is the key to success for any learning plan. 

For instance, if you offer classes or hold workshops, do it during work hours. This way, employees won’t have to sacrifice their personal time for work-related tasks and would appreciate the opportunity to learn with their peers. 

2. Provide support

Providing support and showing the company cares about the growth of its employees is an integral part of any learning program. However, it’s not just about sending flowery words of support to your employees through newsletters or emails; you have to show them with actions.

If an employee needs time off to attend a seminar, help them adjust their schedule or make arrangements in the work calendar. If an employee needs to be reimbursed for any payments they made for material that went into their learning, compensate them. This, of course, means you’ll sometimes have to shift deadlines or make adjustments; however, it will be worth it in the long run. 

3. Facilitate mentoring 

Mentoring is one of the best ways to support structured and unstructured learning, and it’s easy to boot. Most mentorship programs pair employees with senior co-workers or their peers, depending on the performance of both employees. 

With this, mentees get the chance to learn from a more experienced mentor, get feedback, and feel a sense of responsibility to commit to their jobs and improve their performance. In contrast, mentors become invested in the success of their mentees and strive to impart knowledge that supports the mentees. 

The advantages of continuous learning are clear. Employees become invested in the company’s success and aim to outperform themselves, while the company provides resources and opportunities to learn, grow, and move up in their career path. Not only does this improve productivity and foster a culture of innovation, but it also reduces churn rate and increases profits and revenue. 

If you’re searching for a practical, easy-to-use and scalable continuous learning solution, book a call with our expert team today!

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