Continuous Learning
Management & Mindset

Continuous Learning: Why Is It Important and How Can UK Businesses Nurture It?

Learning at work is falling short. 

With average course completion rates hovering at around 20-30%, learners are struggling to make it all the way to the finish line. This means the majority of employees aren’t retaining the information they need to succeed and grow. 

A poor learning experience can spell trouble for your organisation's continuous learning culture. If your learners don’t complete basic training, how can you encourage them to create lifelong learning habits?

Thankfully, there is a way for your organisation to nurture a continuous learning culture—and it starts with fostering a decentralised and collaborative approach to upskilling. Decentralisation enables employees to declare their own learning needs and encourages anyone within the organisation to create training materials. By involving all employees in learning initiatives, L&D managers can promote and inspire a culture of continuous learning.

So with that in mind, we delve into actionable insights on what continuous learning is, why it’s important and how you can adopt a continuous learning culture fuelled by upskilling from within.

What is continuous learning?   

Continuous learning is an ’always on’ process to motivate employees to acquire new skill sets and knowledge, improve performance and drive innovation within an organisation.

When we talk about continuous learning, it’s important to remember that learning is not one size fits all. Everybody learns in different ways—from formal learning courses to more bite-sized, casual styles.

For this reason, L&D teams need a strategic approach underpinned by processes, technology and people to execute training programmes that meet learner expectations and keep employees coming back for more.

For organisations, your employees preferred way of learning has a significant impact on making continuous learning a reality. This begs the question, what do your learners really want? Download our L&D survey report and get first-hand data on how to improve employee engagement.

What Do Your Learners Really Want?

Next up, why is continuous learning important for organisations?

Why is continuous learning important for organisations?

Talent shortages are at a record high in the UK, with 23% of companies reporting skill gaps. From a global perspective, more than half of companies worldwide cannot find the talent they are looking for—almost double the figure it was a decade ago. 

For many organisations, talent shortages, combined with the impact of COVID-19 on workforce planning, has propelled L&D teams to upskill employees, identifying this as a key driver of growth and competitiveness. 

And it appears that employees are ready to upskill with 77% of global workers declaring they want to learn new skills. These factors signify that a continuous learning approach is critical to driving growth and building resilience in the post-pandemic world.

But, for continuous learning to be successful, L&D teams need to provide employees with the tools required to learn and develop their knowledge over time and continuously. When this is achieved, both organisations and employees can reap the benefits of continuous learning.

Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Building a Learning Organization

The benefits of a continuous learning culture

The profits gained from continuous learning benefit both your organisation and individual employees. Let’s take a look at these benefits in more detail.

Benefits for the organisation

  • Knowledge helps businesses make better decisions. An environment of knowledge-sharing helps support decision-making, eliminates silos, and gives employees greater responsibility.
  • Upskilling leads to improved employee retention. Providing professional development opportunities is more cost-effective than rehiring and retraining new employees every 6 months.
  • Continuous learning improves employee engagement. When businesses promote a culture of learning and transparency, employees feel well-informed which prompts better engagement and drives their career development.

Benefits for the employee

  • Continuous learning increases performance. Developing knowledge can improve competencies in one’s role, leading to potential promotion or incentive opportunities.
  • Professional development allows employees to progress. Continued professional development allows employees to work towards a particular career path or rotation to a different role.
  • Certifications and/or additional qualifications help employees stay current. Certifications and new qualifications allow employees to gain the knowledge they need to carry out their role and progress further on their personal development path.  
  • Remain competitive in the job market. Should employees want a change, learning plans can ensure they keep up to date with current trends and are ready for future opportunities.
  • Learning contributes to personal fulfilment. Learning is a natural part of life. Taking on new opportunities to develop skills increases fulfilment and allows employees to reach their full potential.

For organisations, investing time and resources to earn these benefits is worthwhile. But how can you nurture a continuous learning culture in your organisation?

How to nurture continuous learning in your organisation

We’ve noted L&D teams need to create a seamless learning experience to guide long-term learning habits. Here are 5 ways to meet learner expectations to drive a continuous learning culture.

1. Decentralise learning

In traditional centralised learning, training flows from a single point: instructors teach and employees learn. But this method provides little room for learner engagement and it doesn’t support a continuous learning culture. 

With a bottom-up, democratic approach to learning, employees can use Collaborative Learning tools to make requests for learning opportunities. Everyone can vote on which courses would be most useful, and anyone can offer to teach a course. By empowering employees to seek self-directed learning, L&D teams can truly foster a continuous learning culture. 

So how can you involve all employees in the learning process? By leveraging subject-matter experts.

Related: Centralised vs. Decentralised - Which is the Right L&D Approach for Your Business?

2. Leverage subject-matter expertise

According to our research, among companies that use 360Learning, non-L&D members create 85% of training courses. This is a key part of promoting a continuous learning culture because it leverages subject-matter experts and encourages peer-to-peer learning in the work environment. When employees are asked to contribute their knowledge and learn as part of a team, it helps build a supportive learning environment. 

To consistently leverage subject-matter expertise, L&D teams need a platform to support continuous learning. That’s why investing in learning technology is another critical aspect of driving a learning culture.

3. Invest in a learning platform

It’s never been more important for organisations to have technology in place that supports constant learning with a time, place, and method convenient to employees. 

A modern learning management system (LMS) that facilitates Collaborative Learning is by far the most efficient way to run an online learning programme. An LMS supports L&D managers in handling the entire life cycle of the learning process and is used to store, organise and distribute courses to employees as needed. 

For L&D teams, an LMS is fundamental to delivering training. However, an LMS that leverages mobile learning takes learning to the next level.

Related: What are Learning Management Systems, and How do you Choose One?

4. Consider a mobile learning solution

L&D managers must be able to reach employees wherever they are. And for many learners, that’s on mobile devices. We’ve found data to back this up with 70% of UK companies reporting they’ve increased usage of mobile device-based learning over the last two to three years. 

The ubiquitous nature of smartphones (and tablets—just over half of Brits own one of those), makes them an excellent hub for upskilling, and professional development programmes. Bite-sized online courses can be comfortably completed on the way to work, during a 10-minute at-home break, waiting in line at the post office, or pretty much anywhere else.

Considering a mobile learning solution is a great way to create a seamless elearning experience that helps foster Collaborative Learning habits—a key component of building a continuous learning culture.

70% of UK companies report increase in usage of mobile device-based learning over the last two to three years.

70% of UK companies report increase in usage of mobile device-based learning over the last two to three years.

5. Implement a Collaborative Learning approach

Collaborative Learning platforms are a new breed of online learning software that lets employees learn as a team. This Collaborative Learning approach to course creation is fast, relevant, and impact-driven, keeping your lifelong learner engaged in the process. The continuous iteration is embedded in the Collaborative Learning process which results in significantly higher engagement and course completion rates hover around 85-90%. Overall, the company learns faster and more efficiently, plus this approach contributes to a continuous learning culture.

So what’s the secret to combining continuous learning and Collaborative Learning?

Continuous learning and Collaborative Learning: a match made in heaven

Your learners have expectations—and it’s imperative you meet these to successfully create learning habits that fuel continuous learning.

Learning needs to be flexible and social—and it needs to happen in the flow of work. A Collaborative Learning approach can compliment continuous learning by:

  • Making it easy for employees to declare their learning needs 
  • Empowering any team to make and ship courses quickly
  • Encouraging subject-matter experts to contribute their skills, share their knowledge, and iterate learning content over time
  • Using a continuous feedback loop to keep learning content current, accurate, and engaging
  • Fostering a shared sense of connection and belonging through making every step of the learning process as interactive as possible

Interested in finding out how you can build a continuous learning culture powered by Collaborative Learning? Feel free to get in touch with one of our learning experts to find out more.