How to Make Employees Better Learners

Illumeo Customer Success's Profile

Companies are spending more than ever on continuing education and training for their employees. In the US alone, companies spent upwards of $70 billion a year on training - and that number is expected to go up each year. While furthering employees education and skill level is important, many companies are missing a vital component of the learning process: teaching employees how to be learners. 

Learning is Skill

This recent Harvard Business Review article explains that we've long believed that people either born learners or not. But the truth is that the ability to learn has little to do with intelligence. Learning is a skill, not a predetermined trait. 

In fact, a recent study found that learning strategies are often more important than intelligence to gain expertise. While there is a correlation between being gifted and being intelligent, most people who are considered gifted also have excellent learning strategies. 

So how does this impact your company? 

Well, before you approve the new budget packed full of training and continuing education opportunities, you might want to consider including some training on learning itself. By teaching employees to be better learners, you can ensure the amount spent on their training will truly offer a high ROI, instead of being a waste of company funds. 

Learning Can be Taught

It might seem redundant to teach someone how to learn, but as only 1 in 5 employees are effective learners it clearly needs to be addressed. Teach them how to learn by adjusting your training and learning programs. Consider the following factors:

  • Environmental - Create a culture of learning in your organization, and your employees will be more open to learning in general.
  • Effective - Ensure the programs are effective - even a small win can help an employee progress in their skills. 
  • Effortless - Make it easy for employees to learn by providing the time they need and the best resources possible.
  • Experimental - Remember that this is a learning process for your company, too. Experiment and see what works.
  • Evolutionary - As you experiment, be willing for things to evolve naturally. Bring employees along a learning path at their own pace. 

Learning Starts at the Top

Like most efforts, improving learning needs to start at the top of your organization. Show that organizational leaders are great learners, but that they are also open to becoming better learners too. Create a culture of learning from the top down, and you'll begin to see that your employees are becoming better learners, too.