Alan Price explains why an environment of learning is a necessity to help build and grow an organisation.
Learning is a fundamental part of life, particularly in the world of business. Not only does it allow employees to develop a pertinent set of skills that will be invaluable throughout their careers, but for a business, it enables employers to tap into the full potential of their employees, bringing to life new ideas and ways of thinking. This can be beneficial, in that it can allow your organisation to gain a competitive edge.
Learning in the workplace begins from the moment a job starts and should remain consistent throughout the employee’s time with the company. Learning encompasses everything from how the organisation operates to immersing oneself within the latest trends and researching new ideas. Unfortunately, for many companies continuous learning can often take a back seat due to increasing workloads and managerial or organisational shifts. Obviously, employees have to want to learn, but it is also the responsibility of management teams to encourage ambition and development in the workplace. Despite how challenging this may seem, placing an emphasis on the progression of your employees will pay dividends for your organisation in the long run.
It is worth noting that learning cannot take place in every department at one time, as this would be impractical and inefficient use of resources. Some departments should invest more time in learning than others, for example the constant evolution in software and technology will mean that anyone working within IT or graphic design will need to be kept up to date with the latest applications and systems to ensure their work meets industry and client expectations.
If employees show the desire to learn and progress in the workplace, then managers should implement a way to meet their requests and facilitate the learning process. Employers cannot expect their employees to research the company and ways to enhance the workplace in their own time, as they need their leisure time to unwind. With this in mind, employers should look to devise a schedule whereby learning new skills is a part of the weekly routine. This may prove difficult at times, but you, as the employer know when your busiest times are and when you have more leeway to afford time to employee development.
It is important that managers are willing to act as mentors to their employees, guiding them in the areas in which they need to progress, as well as new areas that might be of interest to particular employees. This isn’t to say that you need to babysit your staff, but you understand their strengths and weaknesses and therefore can help determine where further learning should be directed. Furthermore, you want to ensure that what their learning benefits and adds value to the company, so that you are not wasting precious company resources or the time of your employees.
Learning is not a short-term commitment, but a long-term necessity to help build and grow an organisation. As cultural, societal and industrial shifts occur, it is important that employers and their staff are reactive to changes and in some instances one step ahead of any changes. A career is often a lifetime commitment for any individual, therefore companies need to capitalise on this by helping their employees reach their full potential, consequently building a loyal and happy workforce.
Alan Price is employment law director of Peninsula.