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Why is continuous learning and development a necessity for employers and employees in companies?

The workplace is constantly changing, especially but not only knowledge work. Given the challenges of today’s market, the upskilling and retraining of workers is more important today than in the past. Continuous learning and development facilitate the continuous development of skills and abilities and enable workers and employers to keep pace and perhaps even lead with the changing workplace.

Those companies that build and implement a continuous learning and development plan are better able to stay competitive. Those who don’t are likely to fall behind the competition and are likely to be influenced by emerging companies (with a focus on continuous learning).

How do employees benefit from continuous learning in the workplace?

Employees often see a company’s learning and development opportunities as one of the most important factors when considering a job offer.

  • Employees benefit from continuous learning and development as they keep their skills updated, develop new skills, and prepare for their next role.
  • Learning promotes the creativity of employees and triggers innovations in processes and products.
  • Mastering a skill is one of the three pillars of engaging employees (the other two are autonomy and determination).

How do employers benefit from continuous learning in the workplace?

Employers benefit from continuous learning and development as they build a highly skilled, engaged and productive workforce. There is a direct correlation these factors have on balance.

The training and retraining of employees helps employers stay one step ahead of their competition. Emerging companies often develop strategies, technologies and products that disrupt the market, but companies that continuously develop their people see these new strategies, technologies and products before their competition. Innovation thrives in an environment of learning.

Employees are more engaged when they learn continuously. Happier employees focus more on a company’s mission and strategy, which removes much of the pressure of recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new employees. As the tenure increases, teams can form more cohesive units that work efficiently and effectively.

Companies can develop leadership skills and ensure that their management and leadership teams can quickly fill vacant positions. Strong individual and team leadership is difficult to recruit. Developing these in the company ensures employers have sustainable competitive advantages.

Creating a Business Case for Continuous Learning in the Workplace: The Process

When creating a business case for continuous learning and continuous development (which qualifies and retrains employees), identify the following factors:

  • Continuous learning helps create agility in organizations. Companies can react quickly to changing market needs or, more importantly, bring these changes to the market.
  • Companies can quickly retrain their employees so that their skills match those required by dynamic customer requirements and expectations.
  • When employees learn to learn, they become more agile themselves. You will get better at seeing the big picture, thinking strategically, and then executing tactical plans. You can evaluate the progress on the fly and make changes if necessary.
  • An organization that promotes a culture of continuous learning is ready to face the future and succeed in the unknown. It can qualify employees who want to continuously develop with the market.
  • Promoting continuous learning in an organization encourages innovation – incremental, sustainable, and disruptive innovations.
  • Formal training becomes more effective than informal training opportunities [1] are used to sow seeds, provide support during exercise, reinforce key principles, and serve as post-exercise performance support [2].
  • Self-directed learning is often more suitable for further qualification in the work flow, which improves the effectiveness of employees.
  • Continuous learning creates a common culture within organizations. Often times, employees even start using a common shorthand vocabulary to reinforce new ideas and solve difficult problems.

Creating a Business Case for Continuous Learning and Continuous Development: Impact on the Bottom Line

Identify the following factors as the bottom line impact when creating a business case for continuous learning:

  • The reduced time to familiarization has a direct impact on the bottom line of a company, as employees are more on the job and less in the classroom. Their time is spent doing the work they were trained to do.
  • If employees implement what they have been trained to do, they can develop new products and generate new income for employers.
  • By training employees, companies can identify where inefficiencies exist and can be remedied, saving the company costs in the form of lost revenue and time.
  • Employees thrive and are more engaged in an environment of continuous learning, which reduces turnover and associated recruitment costs and has a direct impact on bottom line.
  • Employers who invest in training their employees are less risky and save the company money in legal fees.
  • In the workflow, performance improves in a culture of continuous learning [3].
  • Formal training costs are reduced in an environment where continuous learning is encouraged. Employees search for knowledge independently and coach and look after one another.
  • Employees become more responsible for their own learning and should show what they have done with what they have learned. Innovations like Gmail came from a time when Google employees were developing their skills and evaluating what needed to be done outside of their normal project work.

Farewell Thoughts

Businesses gain a competitive advantage by fostering a culture of continuous learning and development. Employees sharpen their skills, stay relevant, make progress in their industry and get involved.

I hope this article helps you build an argument for continuous learning and see how important it is for both employers and employees.

In the meantime, if you have specific questions, please contact me or leave a comment below.


[1] Create a networked learning solution by supporting your formal training with informal learning

[2] How to promote just-in-time learning with performance support tools

[3] How to use microlearning to develop employee learning habits and promote continuous learning in the workplace

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EI design

EI Design is a leading provider of learning and performance support solutions that thrives on transforming learning and keeping it relevant, effective and continuous.

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