Five methods to build a learning culture that retains employees

March 10, 2022 | What's Hot | 10min read

Here's a silly question for you: When do we stop learning? Is it once we've graduated from school, when we become adults, or when we start our first job?

The answer is we don't stop learning. We never do, and I'm sure every reader is aware of that -- so why are education and career development not better integrated throughout our working lives? Especially in this era of unprecedented technological change, where we have seen time and again that a learning culture helps retain top talent.

We have now seen firsthand what happens when public health, social and cultural challenges disrupt the workforce: how we work has changed. Just recently, in 2021, we saw a mass resignation to the tune of 4.5 million workers as people left their jobs to provide care for loved ones, tend to illness, or simply to reassess their relationship to work.

Employees are now coming back to work empowered and are looking to do fulfilling work for mindful companies. The new worker wants to partner with a business that takes a stand on social and cultural issues. In fact, 68% of employees will consider leaving an organization with a weak track record for doing social good. More than ever, employees want to do work that has purpose.

Employers need skilled employees, and more than ever, the onus is on the company to keep those qualified employees engaged. So how can organizations give their team members a sense of value, purpose, certainty, and belonging? Here are five methods any business can use to keep their talent:

  1. Embrace the hybrid workforce- remote work is here to stay, don't get bogged down in trying to halt the natural evolution of a changing workplace. Instead, focus on building meaningful blended learning experiences that inspire remote work. Collaborative work and immersive learning programs are a go-to solution for forward-thinking leaders. Self-paced, team-oriented, instructor-led training, live courses, hands-on labs, and bootcamps appeal to the wide variety of training preferences and learning styles that comprise most workplaces.
  2. Invest in skills – we all know that competency is the new currency, and transformation through learning provides a way to meaningfully upskill or reskill and shows employees that you value them. Technology changes fast, so organizations that wish to see their employees thrive will need to focus on providing them with critical training for the most in-demand skills. Upskilling young talent allows them to learn valuable work-ready skills and instills confidence, while reskilling your veterans will keep your best incumbent talent engaged and working toward business success.

    The software, data and analytics company, Black Knight, Inc., is an example of a company that lives these first two ideals. Black Knight partnered with Skillsoft to build a data-driven learning and development program that could also uncover and shore up skills gaps in real-time. The solution delivered custom online training and leadership programs, expert town halls, over 100 virtual hands-on labs where employees can build and test their skills for certifications, and a robust new-hire journey. By investing in people, the organization was able to fill skills gaps with agile certified employees, and those employees demonstrated an over 90% pass rate on certification prep tracks. Their new hire journey provides a gradual education on the industry and company culture and is designed to give those new to the organization everything they need to stay engaged and succeed.

    And the solution has been a success. Black Knight has seen over one million platform views, more than 200,00 course views, almost 40,000 hours of learning, and no sign of stopping.
  3. Support talent and career growth - most businesses rank building skills and capabilities as their top priority for success. Success hinges upon retaining talent excited to learn within an infrastructure that enables them to do so, and organizations that provide their employees with a transparent career trajectory see the largest benefit. It also pays to remember that employees do not exist in a vacuum; they have families, friends, interests, and goals outside of the workplace. The organization that respects this and encourages workers to succeed inside the office and out, will win both hearts and minds.

    From cameras to commercial printers, business consultancy to healthcare technologies, Canon is a company committed to imaging innovation, and they owe much of that innovation to their continued commitment to employee skilling. Through their corporate philosophy of Kyosei – living and working together for the common good – Canon strives to foster an empowered employee population, supporting flexible working, career development, and providing team members access to learning future-fit digital skills to drive transformation. In working with Skillsoft, Canon has sought to realize the full potential of their over 13,500 employees across the EMEA region, creating a self-development and learning culture throughout their entire company. Today, Canon has developed a diverse range of curated channels mapped to critical competencies with the ability to align learning to specific teams. And realize the full potential they have – with over 5,600 learners to date accessing learning across 6,000 channels.
  4. Strong DEIB initiatives raise all ships – fostering a culture of DEIB (diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging) in the workplace means making all your employees feel involved and engaged so that they can be their whole, authentic selves inside and outside of the office. By embracing DEI, you are building an organizational culture centered around the needs of your employees so that they can learn and do their best at work, which directly translates to success throughout your organization. According to a recent study by Mckinsey, companies with gender-diverse executive teams are 25% more likely to outperform financially, and ethnic or cultural diversity among executives improves the likelihood of outperforming by 36%. Investments in DEI programs will see returns in higher employee engagement and retention.
  5. Build a foundation of leadership - the most crucial investment an organization can make is in their leaders. Managers and supervisors have the most significant influence on employee retention. They are in the best position to encourage and enable learning from mistakes, but not if they don't have power skills like empathy and resilience. That being said, everyone across the business, from individual contributors to C-suite executives need leadership competencies to deliver on strategic initiatives, drive results and achieve their personal goals. To that end, personalized coaching of current and future leaders empowers your employees to build their own leadership plan, centered around goals, outcomes and actionable strategies, and affects lasting change that significantly impacts retention and business success.

    Trane Technologies, a global climate solutions innovator, embraces these two concepts. Dedicated to advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace, Trane knew that there was work to be done to close the leadership gap for women. So, Trane and Skillsoft joined forces to expand their Women in Action™ Leadership Program, a voluntary, self-directed remote learning journey geared toward helping women leaders. It was a total game changer, participants logged over 4000 hours of short training lessons, designed to easily integrate into busy schedules, with monthly topics structured to build leadership skills at all levels. Participants earned 1,130 sharable badges, and according to Skillsoft's own Dr. Erika Schmidt, a member of our eLearning team who helped Trane Technologies develop the course, it wasn't only the numbers that were impressive: "The energy and excitement around learning this way was palpable. In fact, I was blown away." In turn, Trane has empowered 1,165 women across their organization, building a more competitive and well-rounded workforce by promoting more women and providing them with leadership support.

An investment in your employees' skills and a robust learning and development initiative will ensure your organization has everything it needs to deliver outcomes. When you provide your people with learning solutions, you give them the resources, the validation, and the permission to succeed. By creating a digital learning strategy that meets the needs of all of your employees and applying the employee retention methods above, you create an ecosystem of success.

To uncover more insights into organizational, social and cultural changes in the workforce today, read Skillsoft’s Lean into Learning 2021 Annual Learning Report or watch the Future of Work: Reimagining Digital Learning for the Modern Workforce on-demand webinar.