5 Reasons to Invest in Continued Learning for Your Company

    Smart business leaders are constantly on the lookout for ideas to improve their company practices and profits, and one common strategy is to invest in human resources. It’s widely accepted that cultivating employee growth has a huge and positive impact on both the day-to-day and long-term success of an organization.

    By that token, investing in continuing education programs should be a no-brainer for companies. Continuing education can help a business scale up its operations, foster employee development, and increase revenue. It’s sometimes even said that “the more you learn, the more you earn.”

    A continued learning program enables your company to:

    1. Provide new skills that enhance your business.
    2. Stay up to date with current trends.
    3. Improve employee engagement.
    4. Boost cognitive function and productivity.
    5. Create a spirit of continuous improvement.

    These benefits are true for any kind of strong continuing education (CE) program, whether in-person or online. However, especially in today’s socially distanced circumstances, e-learning options are a growing industry—and for good reason. Remote professional development programs have come a long way from bland, prerecorded video training sessions held in a conference room.

    Online continuing education course materials allow for increased convenience, flexibility, and interactivity. While in-person CE options exist, this article will focus primarily on the benefits of online courses. Let’s jump in.

    Provide new skills that enhance your business.

    One of the most immediate benefits of offering continued learning for your employees is that they will be able to learn and take advantage of new business-related skills. You could offer employees training that relates to their current positions or enhances an existing skill. Or, you can create cross-departmental educational opportunities that diversify each employee’s skill set and break down knowledge silos.

    While the nature of these specific skills will vary by your industry, there are a few main categories this knowledge could fall into:

    • Industry-specific skills. These are the subject areas unique to your business needs and industry. For instance, a digital marketing firm could offer specialized training in SEO or social media marketing.
    • Tech skills. The level of tech-savviness of your employees will influence the exact nature of these skills, but any business likely has a need for some kind of software or program training. Consider creating a refresher course for best practices with your current CRM, Excel, or other software; teaching a brand-new skill like basic web development; or streamlining an ongoing process like website maintenance.
    • General skills. If you have a young workforce, they may benefit from general training like understanding your company’s health insurance or 401k plans. Sales and customer service teams can always benefit from training on the “softer” people skills. Or, if you have a large corporation with a long history or multiple branches and initiatives, you could even offer regular training sessions that teach employees more about the company and its various projects.

    Whether you’re trying to deepen an employee’s existing knowledge or expose them to a new topic, new skills have a positive impact on your business. After the initial learning curve, employees will be better prepared for their current roles or to dialogue with different departments.

    Stay up to date with current trends.

    In today’s fast-paced world, industry best practices can evolve quickly. Thanks to new technology, new innovations arise almost constantly. The employee onboarding and introductory training you used just a few years ago may be already out of date, or you may be feeling behind the curve compared to your competitors.

    While you probably don’t want to jump on every single fad that pops up, you also don’t want your company to have a reputation for being out of touch. Continuing education can help everyone at your company stay up to date.

    While you may not have a fortune-telling crystal ball, you can use education to predict the future of your industry and stay abreast of new trends. A robust CE program enables your company to identify a new innovation or practice and quickly implement it across departments since the infrastructure will already be in place.

    Additionally, continued learning allows you to bring tenured employees up to speed with methods that have evolved since they were hired.

    Improve employee engagement.

    A continuing education program will help your employees stay engaged with their work and connected to your company.

    When you prioritize training and development, you create a people-focused workplace culture. In this kind of environment, employees will feel more motivated not only to perform well but also to improve. Plus, training can open up greater opportunities for advancement within your company.

    According to Astron Solutions’ guide to employee recruitment and retention, continuing education is a great way to attract and keep top-performing employees because it proves you are invested in them in the long run. This is becoming increasingly true for top talent in younger generations; 87% of millennials say professional development is important in a job.

    Creating continued learning courses and offering training resources will help your company stay competitive in the employment market and boost engagement from your staff.

    In order to engage employees most effectively, be sure to design your CE program with their needs and goals in mind. If you use an out-of-the-box training solution that doesn’t take your industry-specific needs or company processes into account, it may feel irrelevant or at the wrong depth. Your employees won’t participate fully if they feel like the information isn’t useful.

    You will likely have better engagement outcomes if you seek a custom professional development provider that understands how to analyze your employees and create the ideal course.

    Boost cognitive function and productivity.

    Continued learning programs can help keep your employees’ brains sharp and focused. Lifelong learning has been proven to reduce cognitive decline and promote mental fitness.

    It pays to keep your employees’ minds in tip-top shape. When staff is operating at peak cognitive performance, you’ll have more creative conversations and fewer data errors. These mental benefits are especially true when you use online course materials that are interactive and engaging.

    Plus, improving employee skills through continuing education will have tangible work benefits. For example, providing software training now will reduce time spent (and mistakes made) when the program is actually needed for a project. Or, increased subject-area knowledge from a CE course can help an employee provide more value to a client in a deliverable.

    These benefits have been proven to have quantitative benefits on your bottom line. Studies have shown that every 1 hour spent on employee education is worth 5 to the company each year. This return on investment is one of the most obvious reasons to implement a CE program in your workplace.

    Create a spirit of continuous improvement.

    In order to thrive, businesses and their employees must evolve and change. Creating a culture of continuous improvement amongst your employees (and in management) will create opportunities for overall business growth.

    This idea is reflected across cultures and across industries. For example, the Japanese word kaizen refers to a gradual process of continuous improvement and change for the better, and this has been implemented in the U.S. as the “continuous improvement model” (CIP). Additionally, software developers focus on iterative improvements with “lean” design principles.

    While these examples are more about improving a specific product, continuous improvement is also a concept that can help you improve the capabilities of your team. If everyone at your company goes into each day with the desire to learn something new, you’ll be better prepared for the future. Continuing education programs help build this culture of learning and improvement within your organization.

    You can even apply this methodology to your continuing education course itself! CE material is most effective when it can adapt as your company’s and employees’ needs change.

    For example, this is visible in Skyepack’s curriculum development process, which is based on Agile methodology.

    This image depicts Skyepack's curriculum development process.

    This process is a cycle, leaving room for continuous improvement. When Skyepack creates a professional development course, further changes can be made after launch day. As you create your own CE program, look for a provider that will continue to evolve with you.

    Investing in continuing education is an investment in your company’s future growth. By providing useful learning opportunities, you can engage employees, create a stronger workplace culture, and improve business outcomes. Hopefully, this guide made it clear that a CE program is a smart choice for any kind of organization. As you develop your program, just be sure to keep the evolving needs of your employees in mind. Good luck!

    About the Author: Malcolm Harrison, Production Manager at Skyepack

    There isn’t much in the realm of Digital Media that Malcolm hasn’t done. Malcolm attended Texas A&M University, and earned a University Studies degree in Architecture with an emphasis on Digital Media, Art, and Film Studies. He has participated in film competitions, directed a local film festival, and has experience in live event broadcasting. On the weekends, he could be found directing short films and videos as a freelance filmmaker. Malcolm is committed to staying current and innovating in the Digital media arena.

    Written by Gabrielle Perham, MBA

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