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Continuous learning is of great importance today both for employees and organizations. It is a paradigm shift that brooks no delay and calls for serious ongoing action from progressive organizations. Continuous learning is a process of “going on learning” over a lifetime even after the workplace is long gone. This is a vital aspect of a workplace scenario, and understanding its significance is important.
A culture of continuous learning demands the installation of a comprehensive training system as a serious management policy and involves a crucial response to constant changes in human knowledge; it generates enthusiasm within the workforce and platform the employees’ overall career development. This training system encompasses a variety of programs in compliance with legal, administrative, socio-economic processes, customer care techniques and strategies, employee on-the-job training including IT, production techniques, etc. as well as a host of uncategorized concerns pertinent to the workplace; a-one-size-fits-all is unworkable. Conscious provision for cross-training of the workforce is a very important aspect of the training program.
A Rationale for Continuous Learning at the Workplace
The current GenX workforce is familiar with the world of dynamic information, and continuous learning for them is a stimulating experience keeping them motivated with a clear and definite movement for career advancement developments within the workplace. With good tools and clear plans for career enhancement, the young workforce crystallizes into a formidable organization.
This well-established culture of continuous learning within the organization attracts an educated enthusiastic workforce which is being continuously exposed to training programs as a means to be ready to “step up” to the organization’s succession plans as they become available. The immediate direct fall-out is enormous goodwill and lower recruitment costs with benefits of continuity.
Being trained hands-on on the job, being familiar with procedures and products, downtime at the workplace is at an absolute minimum. Thus, this culture of continuous learning generates motivation, professionalism, and flexibility within the workforce and more than pays for itself. Familiarity with the latest technologies builds a progressive organization.
A cross-trained workforce ensures minimum downtime, a healthy climate of mutuality, and collaboration within the workforce. Continuous learning is integral to all operations. With the imminent advance of artificial intelligence, further radical changes are inevitable as day follows night. Finer details are still a matter of conjecture.
A culture of continuous learning leads to the elasticity of thinking which is the bedrock of creativity. “Logical analytical thinking is really good when you are trying to solve a problem you’ve seen before. You can use known methods and techniques to approach whatever issue you are dealing with. Elastic thinking is what you need when the circumstances change and you are dealing with something new. It’s not about following rules,”
Benefits of Continuous Learning
For the Organization
- Creates an environment of improved performances and a constant flow of innovation.
- Knowledge is power. Empowered employees are strongly motivated. This creates goodwill and better ROI.
- Cost-effective compared to costs of fresh recruitment and retraining.
- Confirms that employees are valuable and that career development is intrinsic company policy.
For the Employees
- Be a top-class performer contributing to productivity and profitability.
- Skills and motivation contribute to career development.
- Creates “elasticity of thinking” not only on-the-job situations and aids beneficial social interests in life leading to personality development.
- Personality development advances marketability in the profession.
Examples of Continuous Learning
Formal Learning comprises:
- Basic pre-determined knowledge and skills offered by schools and colleges, brick and mortar institutions.
- e-Learning courses.
- Mobile and online courses.
- Workshops, and conferences including on-the-job training programs within the workplace.
Social Learning comprises:
- Multifarious ways of interacting, discussing, collaborating thereby learning or honing existing skills from the experiences available in the social milieu around you. This is a forum where “elasticity of thinking” plays a very important role.
- The continuous learning culture of the workplace including working with co-workers.
- On-the-job training.
- Specialized coaching and mentoring.
Self-directed Learning comprises:
- An amalgam of elastic thinking, creativity, and self-motivation.
- Researching and reading up on targeted skills sought to be upgraded.
- Depending on the levels of self-motivation, exploring and experimenting is not ruled out.
- Participation in TED talks.
The culture of continuous learning consistently upgrades skills to function efficiently and learn new skills. This includes specific work processes and relevant emerging trends, e.g., new apps, software, etc. and a mindset that develops acquisition of socio-economic skills too – a happy corollary.
Social awareness fosters an ability to empathize with people and build new relationships with those whom we differ. Here, the accommodation of the other’s viewpoint is a challenge to a deeper understanding of lived realities.
A well-rounded personality includes a passion for the work at hand and interests that widens the horizons of life. Innovations contribute to the ROI of an organization – important to career advancement.
Learn, Live and Never Say Die
In a Nutshell.
To learn is to live; to learn well is to live well. The dead do not need to learn.
In the context of the current globalization and rapid strides in technologies, a culture of continuous learning is the way to success and more than just general well being.
An excellent corollary of this culture of continuous learning leads to familiarizing and if required, acquiring various skills for a better daily living e.g., learning to paint if you are so inclined, may open up vistas that you were unaware of.
Under this continuous learning culture, now an integral part of your life, self-motivation is, as it were, in a “perennial renew” mode which creates an aura of quiet self-confidence, stability, and an increase in professional and personal skills.
Personal confidence emanates from the satisfaction that you are gainfully and positively involved. In professional life, you have quiet confidence and positivity knowing that you can actionate what you have learned.
In the final analysis, whether you are pursuing professional ambitions or personal goals, a culture of continuous learning assists in the fulfillment of goals. Striving for the “unreachable star” is a healthy human characteristic that has embellished human nature from time immemorial.
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