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.


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.


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.


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.  
Bright Horizons
About the Author
Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons
In 1986, our founders saw that child care was an enormous obstacle for working parents. On-site centers became one way we responded to help employees – and organizations -- work better. Today we offer child care, elder care, and help for education and careers -- tools used by more than 1,000 of the world’s top employers and that power many of the world's best brands

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