I get it. Support has cases to close. Developers and designers are on a deadline. Managers are accountable for projects being completed. With work-specific tasks taking priority, learning isn’t always top of mind. However, the signs are there that putting this off can leave you behind the curve. You’re hardly alone in this feeling — a recent survey of companies reported that half fear that they don’t have a workforce with the digital skills they need.
Feeling behind in these efforts can be stressful, but fear not! As they say, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Simply making time on employees’ schedules to learn something new each day isn’t just a empty gesture; it sends a strong signal to them in the following ways:
You care about their professional development
Okay, this one may be obvious, but it doesn’t make it any less important. Not investing time and energy in employees’ growth can be detrimental to both retention and morale. Which makes sense, right? Not having a clear career trajectory can easily make someone feel disengaged from their work and company culture. With the number of tech jobs continuing to grow, you’re giving your members an opportunity to innovate on their current teams while potentially preparing them for future openings in your company that would accelerate their career growth.
Don’t have that plan mapped out yet? No worries! We have a whole webinar series on this very topic. Even if you haven’t figured out the next steps, there’s no shame in telling employees, “We care about your career growth and plan to work on a more formal program soon. In the meantime, we want to ensure you’re being given a chance to learn new skills!” So don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good — setting aside learning time is a solid first step.
You care about their personal development and well-being
Providing a learning tool to your company is a step in the right direction, but without time set aside to engage with it, it’s unlikely you or employees will get much out of that investment. If you presume that they can use it in their spare time at home, think about all of the priorities you’re juggling in your own spare time. It’s just not too realistic.
It’s important to think of the whole person when you’re investing in their growth. Providing time to learn, whether it’s work-related or not, can be a welcome break from normal work tasks. Have you ever worked on a hard problem you couldn’t figure out, then stepped away to do something completely different and “bam!”, the answer revealed itself? These small learning breaks have the benefit of keeping the brain working while also keeping it refreshed when coming back to regular work projects.
You’re paying attention to who’s excelling
So far, we’ve focused on what employees expect of you. However, professional development is most definitely a two-way street. Giving employees time to learn doesn’t always mean each person will take advantage of it equally. With the ability to build curriculums and set due dates with a tool like Treehouse, you can easily see how each person is progressing. Those who are clearly self-starters and diligent in their approach can reveal themselves to you through the tracking tools of e-learning and thus, stay on your radar for recognition and potential promotions down the line.
This process doesn’t always need to be competitive. We outline plenty of ways to make learning progress visible to the company to celebrate the successes of employees’ dedication to learning. An example of this in action is a great customer of ours, Cambia Health, who designed a training program that not only increased employee engagement but also camaraderie and mentorship among co-workers.
You want to improve everyone’s tomorrow, today
To get started, begin by carving out 15-30 minutes each day or every other day for their learning. While this may not seem like much, it’s actually better to schedule shorter, consistent time rather than blocking out an entire day once a week. The information will stick better, and their workday won’t be significantly disrupted. Devote time and resources to employee development, and you may just find team members who are happier, more focused, and more dedicated to their work and your organization’s future.