Employee Development: Supporting Staff with Lifelong Learning

Whether you are a manager or an individual contributor, it is so important to take whatever moments you can to reflect on your own personal and professional development and inspire others to do the same by encouraging continuous learning.  Even though it can feel almost irresponsible to take time away from "work" to focus on oneself, by creating a space to support learning and working, you can model the importance of lifelong learning for employee development.

Here are three concrete ways to motivate staff to become lifelong learners.

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH

Many of us managers might already have advanced degrees, but professional employee development does not have to mean working towards another a degree.  For example, at EdAssist, we see more and more professionals taking advantage of short-term certificates, which are offered online and often consist of 4-5 courses.  They're sometimes considered "stackable credentials," which can give professionals the option to apply them towards a degree down the road if they so desire.

Think about informal learning for personal and professional development, too.  If you sign up for a community cooking class, bring something into work that you made in class.  By showing that even the boss can continue to learn, both inside and outside of work, you may stir others to do the same.

ENCOURAGE YOUR EMPLOYEES TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF RESOURCES AT WORK

Another way to support your colleagues in pursuing lifelong learning is encouraging them to take advantage of tuition assistance programs.  At EdAssist, we find that only 5% of employees eligible to receive tuition assistance actually take advantage of the benefit. Here are some tips to encourage employees to participate in tuition assistance programs to support continuous learning:

  • Incorporate the discussion of your tuition assistance program and lifelong learning into performance reviews.
  • Show support for staff participating in continuing education by conducting graduation ceremonies at the end of each year for those who have completed a degree, certificate, or even just an individual course.
  • Hold educational events during which schools and members of your Learning and Development team come together to speak to employees.  Schools will jump at the chance, and will sometimes even provide raffle items or faculty speakers to draw crowds.
  • If your employees are remote, you can host a virtual event through your regular online meeting software.  At EdAssist, we host an annual event on a larger scale called the Virtual Education Fair and have seen great interest from employees across the country.

HELP CREATE THE TIME AND SPACE FOR EMPLOYEE DEVELOPMENT

I previously talked about some ideas for creating a learning space at work, and we have since seen employers and managers implement these ideas to support their staff in pursuing education at work. Encouraging lifelong learning for your employees' personal and professional development can include discussing continuous learning as part of regular check-in's and booking a conference room at lunch for people to study together.

By showing our support, we can encourage employee development through lifelong learning and education, which can build a sense of loyalty and confidence in their jobs. What else do you do or could you do to encourage the professional development on your teams? Let us know in the comments below.  

Written by: Jessica Kaplan

About the Author

Jessica Kaplan at Bright Horizons

As Director, Talent Management, Jessica is responsible for connecting employees and management to the most effective learning and development opportunities offered by Bright Horizons. She also helps facilitate internal collaboration for organizational success. Jessica brings nearly 20 years of experience in professional development and higher education administration to her role. Prior to this role she held key roles in the Client Relations and Academic Partnerships teams. Jessica holds a Bachelor’s degree in American Studies from Tufts University, a Master’s degree in International Communication from American University and has completed PhD coursework in International Higher Education Policy at the University of Maryland.