I just saw an article on how to create a culture of continuous learning that I didn’t love, but it made me think about how powerful it is to create a culture of continuous learning, and why it’s so important for your team members.
Listen, you need to figure out how to attract and retain great talent. Every organization needs to attract and retain great talent but so many companies are not doing either. Right now we are coming off the heels of a pandemic into what most people think is going to be a pretty bad recession (inflation, war, gas prices… these things are dominating the headlines). People are nervous.
When people are nervous about the economy they tend to hunker down and stay at their jobs, instead of going to newer and better opportunities. I don’t have statistics for this but I have a gut feel that people just kind of pause big decisions (like changing jobs, buying a house, etc.).
However, companies still need talent. How do they attract talent? I’ve seen signs all over with some pretty high starting wages for entry level positions. It’s almost shocking what entry level is right now, as everyone seems to be competing for the same group of prospects.
I submit there is a much better way of getting the right talent at your organization. This is going to sound goofy but there can be significant, tangible power in having a strong culture. A strong culture can help you both attract and retain amazing talent, in a way that you can’t with just wages.
I’ve kind of been challenged on this concept on social media, when I tweeted “salary isn’t everything.”
Salary isn’t everything.
— Jason Alba (@jasonalba) June 8, 2021
I got some unexpected kickback on that, but I also got a lot of shaming from people who felt like that was a privileged thing to say.
If you look at the comments, though, you’ll see some scary stuff. A big salary rarely makes up for a toxic, dangerous culture.
Of course, you aren’t cultivating a toxic, dangerous culture. You are working on creating something much better. You are working on creating a delighful culture, and environment where people want to work. The culture you are creating is a culture that attracts the right talent and keeps the people you want to keep, even when they might make more elsewhere. I’ve seen this happen.
This post is about one aspect of creating an awesome culture, which is to create a culture of continuous learning. When you create a culture of continuous learning you are telling your team that you value them enough to invest in THEIR future. Of course, you want them to bring what they learn to your team, but you are gifting them something (opportunities to increase their knowledge and skills) that, if they ever leave, they’ll take with them.
This is so powerful. Smart and wise employees recognize when an organization actually cares about them and their future, and they are attracted to those organizations. They tell their friends, family, colleagues, and industry leaders how amazing you are because you invest in them. People talk. They talk about you as a boss, your leadership, the work environment, how meaningful their work is, etc.
This will give them something to talk about… something your PR and marketing teams might be paying a lot of money to various outlets. But coming from your employees can be way more powerful than an ad on a website. I want to share three ideas I have on how to create a culture of continuous learning.
1: Create a Culture of Continuous Learning with Learning Platforms
Many companies give their teams access to learning platforms for furthering their education/learning. I am super biased because I’ve been creating courses for Pluralsight, but I’ll say it even with my bias:
Pluralsight is the best learning platform for anyone who works anywhere around tech.
Hands down, the best. I have 36 soft skills courses there and am a vocal advocate for people upskilling, whether it is soft skills or hard skills. Regardless of what platforms you give them access to, this can be one of the best perks of working at your organization.
When employees know you care enough about them to buy them access to courses and other learning opportunities (like labs, etc.), they can have a sense of relief that they are keeping their skills up and they aren’t getting left behind (read: stale). In today’s world, this is critical.
You can create a work environment your team brags about, and really appreciate, by investing in them when you create a culture of continuous learning with these platforms.
Here’s a critical factor, though: You need to let them know they can spend time upskilling while at work. Sure, they can invest all the time in themselves when they leave the office, but even while at work you should make sure they carve out time to stay sharp. This could be its own blog post, but I’ll share one tip: make sure executives, leaders, managers, supervisors, etc. are carving out time, regularly, and keeping *their* skills current.
2: Create a Culture of Continuous Learning with Lunch and Learn
Or, whatever you want to call it.
Encourage your team(s) to have lunch and learns, which are informal sessions during lunch where your team can learn about something. I wrote that sentence very vague because there are a lot of ways you could do this. Perhaps you have a book club and once a month whoever wants to joins to talk about a chapter, or a book. Even encourage people who haven’t read to come. The idea is that you have a discussion around what people are learning, and how that might apply to life, a current project, dealing with customers, etc.
Or, maybe you bring in a guest speaker once a month. I was once flown in to San Francisco to present for 45 minutes to a group of lawyers. It was a fascinating experience for a few reasons, one of which was I could tell they were all acutely aware of their billable time because as soon as it was time to go to work, they all got up and went to work.
Bring in guests who specialize on relevant topics and let outsiders share outside perspective with your team. You might have to pay them to come in but if you are creative you likely can find guests who will come in for the relationships, etc.
Like I said, there are different ways you could do this. Do what’s best for your organization. Make it a treat to come, or make it super lowkey. Make it organization or team sponsored, or encourage some de facto leaders to get this up and running.
Here’s a critical factor that won’t break this but could greatly enhance it: If leadership at any level shows up, and becomes “just one of the attendees,” there to learn and contribute like anyone else, they are showing great support for this initiative, and showing they support this effort to create a culture of continuous learning.
3: Create a Culture of Continuous Learning with Rewards and Recognition
At Snowfly, we care about gamification, rewards, and recognition. We know you can do this in a way that really supports anything else you are doing to create a culture of continuous learning.
You can reward individuals and teams for making progress with continuous learning efforts. Maybe you reward people with points in the Snowfly system when they read a book, take a course, attend a lunch and learn, host a lunch and learn, etc.
There is a lot of intrinsic value and reward when your employees choose to participate in whatever you do for continuous learning. Imagine compounding that value when you reward them with your regular employee engagement program! Recognizing Suzy for reading the most books this year, or Juan for getting another certification, shows them, and the rest of your team, that you still care about their continuous learning.
There’s a lot of behavioral science that supports rewards and recognition in the workplace. We have pioneered and refined this for years. We’d love to talk about how we can help enhance and enrich your existing programs to create a culture of continuous learning with rewards and recognition in a fun, sustainable, and affordable way.
Remember, you aren’t just doing this for fun. You will be enhancing your employer brand, increasing retention of the right employees, etc. There are real reasons you need to do this.
We’d love to talk… give us a call or reach out through this form and we’ll get with you right away!