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How to create a culture of learning and continuous professional development

Posted in Employers

Posted by Joanne Caine
Published on 12 May, 2022

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

I bet you can count on your hands, and maybe toes, how many times you’ve heard someone say this about trying something new. Perhaps you’ve tried to encourage someone to learn to play an instrument or get them involved on a modern social media platform, maybe you’ve even asked them to upskill in the workplace to reach the next step on the career ladder, but you’ve been met with resistance.

Humans are innately creatures of habit and when things begin to move away from the ‘norm’, we can become uncomfortable. Indeed, 62 per cent of us don’t like leaving their comfort zone or only do so occasionally. Change for these people is overarchingly negative and can create feelings of fear or dread.

But why is it important that we challenge these feelings, especially in the workplace?

Lifelong learning and continuous professional development are linked with a wealth of benefits from better financial security to improved health. Additionally, in this day and age, with technology rapidly changing, it also gives job security to those who keep up with or stay one step ahead of change. Indeed, by 2030, it is expected that 20 million manufacturing jobs alone could be lost to automation so the need to upskill and perhaps side-step into something new is crucial.

However, one misconception when it comes to professional development is that it is down to the individual to be the one to take it upon themselves to learn, grow and evolve. While yes, there is an element of personal responsibility, it is also crucial that leaders also play a part in encouraging their employees to upskill.

By investing in your employees’ skills, you showcase a willingness to help them continuously advance as well as ensuring that they feel valued. This, in turn, will increase rates of retention. Additionally, it can only do wonders for your own business. Improved skillsets, contemporary knowledge and better understanding for innovation and creativity will help leverage your company into new and exciting arenas.

There are numerous ways in which employers can encourage a culture of learning and continuous professional development, but here are just a few examples.

Set training budgets

It’s important that employees are given the autonomy to choose which areas they want to upskill in. Of course, there needs to be assurance that these new-found abilities will be relevant to your organisation but by allowing an employee to choose what and how they learn, the process becomes a lot more fun and interesting. By setting a training budget, you give your team the opportunity to explore their interests and passions and in turn create a team eager to learn.

Enable staff to share their learnings

Sometimes, it can be the spark of passion and enjoyment witnessed from another colleagues which encourages the rest of the team to learn for themselves. When an individual has undertaken a training course or something similar, give a space for them to share their experiences, their new-found learnings and ensure they showcase how these will impact the business in the longer-term.

Lead by example

Lifelong learning and continuous professional development should be just that. Just because you’re part of the senior team or the CEO doesn’t mean you know everything and should be shut off from learning. Ensure you lead by example, undertaking regular training sessions and showcasing your willingness to upskill to the rest of the business.

Change can be scary and re-entering a phase of learning or upskilling can feel uncomfortable, but it needn’t be that way. The benefits, personally and professionally, of lifelong learning are vast and every opportunity should be grasped with vigour.

Managing Director

I joined Cathedral Appointments in 1998 to cover a maternity leave and never left. I now own the business and love my job. I've a great team of consultants who work with me in ensuring that Cathedral Appointments provide an excellent service to candidates and clients alike.

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How to create a culture of learning and continuous professional development

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