5 Ways to Incorporate Continuous Learning in Your Workplace
Until I worked for ScreenSteps — a knowledge base software company — I never realized how important it is to provide training beyond initial onboarding.
Every company I had worked for before expected me to just know what to do. (Pardon this interruption, but I’d like to take a moment to thank Google search for getting me to where I am today.)
The approach all of my previous companies seemed to take is “she’ll figure it out.” But, contrary to popular belief, not even birds learn to fly by being thrown out of their nest. They are coaxed out with food. Eventually, they learn to fly.
But then they still need to learn how to hunt, dive, build a nest, and more.
Once onboarding is over, it’s tempting to set your employees free into your organization and hope they fly. But, like birds, they still need to learn to do all the other things, and they don’t have enough capacity in onboard training.
Continuous learning is important in the workplace because it not only teaches your employees to fly. They learn to succeed because you recognize what their current abilities are and you provide resources that help them continue to grow.
Here are five ways you can incorporate continuous learning in your organization that will help your employees develop both their individual skills and their knowledge of your company.
1. Use a learning management system (LMS) for self-paced courses
A learning management system (LMS) is a software system that provides different self-paced courses to your employees. There are different types of LMS software, but they basically provide two types of learning options: (1) off-the-shelf courses and (2) custom courses.
If you want your employees to learn basic business skills — like how to keep your computer secure or what is SEO — then an LMS that provides (or allows for) off-the-shelf courses will work for helping your employees develop new skills.
If you want employees to gain more knowledge that specifically teaches them about your company and your systems, then you will need an LMS that allows you to create custom courses.
For example: An employee has handled several billing transactions with the help of your employee performance system. They followed the steps in your procedures, but they still lack understanding of why they were doing what they were doing.
So you assign them a course titled, “How the customer billing system works.” They can take that course where it dives deeper into the concepts and pushes learners to solve problems. It could include reading material, videos, quizzes, interactive exercises, etc.
The important part is they have a chance to continue learning.
Tip: Often, those kinds of courses are assigned to employees before they start working — but that’s backward. It makes much more sense to assign them those courses after they’ve had experiences and have had a chance to ask their questions.
2. Get a knowledge base to make resources accessible
A knowledge base is your one-stop shop for all of your company’s resources. When you use a knowledge base to store and share information, your employees know exactly where they can find answers to all of their questions.
In your knowledge base, include articles that provide additional information and explanations. Some examples of the resources you can create, store, and share in your knowledge base include:
- Help guides
- Call flows
2 ways a knowledge base helps with continuous learning
There are two ways a knowledge base helps with continuous learning.
1. Provides opportunities to further research information
These types of articles aren’t meant to be referenced during a procedure — they’re meant to be read after employees have handled transactions related to the topic. These learning assets will be longer and more in-depth than a typical procedure document.
For example: After an employee has handled several troubleshooting questions around error code 45345 using your employee performance system, they want to better understand why that error occurs and why it’s cleared.
You send them your knowledge base article with the diagrams and the in-depth explanation. Your employee can then read and study the information so they are better prepared for future encounters with the error code.
2. Provides workflow learning opportunities
Workflow learning is when employees can learn while performing tasks. They don’t have to stop doing an assignment to learn more about it before continuing on.
Say a worker is handling a complicated process for exchanging medical equipment for the first time. They’ve been trained on how to follow your step-by-step guides, so they pull up the proper guide from your knowledge base. Your employee is learning as they go.
3. Set up lunch-and-learn training sessions
Create a consistent touchpoint where you can address a group of employees. You can set up monthly, quarterly, or whatever-length-of-time-you-prefer lunch and learns.
A lunch and learn is a regularly scheduled training session. It’s named lunch and learn because often companies hold it during the lunch hour and provide a free lunch to all who attend.
During lunch and learns, you can update your employees on changes, provide training on specific topics, and expand their knowledge on company processes.
4. Provide one-on-one coaching
Sometimes the best way for an employee to learn is to have a trusted person to who they can ask questions. This provides a direct line of communication to an expert that can help employees on their continuous learning journey.
Here’s how it could work. After an employee has handled several invoice transactions, you (the coach) schedule 30 minutes to help them verbally process what they’re doing.
You ask a lot of open-ended questions, allowing them to talk through the process and connect the dots. Then you provide insights and answers, but mainly you let your learner struggle a bit as they work things out in their mind
During coaching, you can include example scenarios and ask them to think through what would happen so they can see the concept applied in different situations. Coaching is a great opportunity to role-play real situations your employees encounter on the job.
The downside of one-on-one coaching is that it is time-consuming. Since it demands personalized attention, the process isn’t scalable.
5. Film videos to show and explain procedures
Depending on how your employees prefer to learn and what they are learning to do, a video can shed light on different tasks. With video, you can show employees what to do by sharing a screen.
Create videos that include in-depth explanations of specific transactions. After the learner has performed several of those transactions, send them a video to watch to enhance their understanding.
Videos can be as simple as you recording your screen as you go through a visual presentation that explains the concepts and helps the learner connect the dots.
These videos can be hosted in a variety of places. You can include them in your LMS, embed them in a knowledge base article, or upload them to a video account, like Vimeo.
Ready to include continuous learning in your training strategy?
There are many ways to include continuous learning into your training strategy. And there are different software programs that help train your employees at different stages of learning. The goal of a Learning and Development leader is to know which gaps to fill in.
With a ScreenSteps knowledge base, you can help expand your employees' learning while they are in the workflow. ScreenSteps allows you to create courses and articles to help your employees dive deeper into processes as well as workflow articles that walk your employees through procedures.
Are you considering using help guides, documented procedures, or courses as part of your continuous learning strategy? Or maybe you are considering including self-paced courses?
If that is the case, you’ll want to consider getting a knowledge base or LMS to support your continuous learning goals. Learn more about the roles and differences of a knowledge base and LMS in the article below.