Why Learning Matters

Why Learning Matters

Regular readers of this blog will know I’m a Quora devotee. Yesterday, however, my mind was blown in a new way when I read this question: What are the benefits of having an internal training program?

Maybe the questioner is just looking for some talking points for conversations with management about expanding internal training, but any organization that isn’t investing in training of some kind is missing an opportunity to build a competitive edge.

Here’s Why Learning Matters

In short, learning matters because in this era of exponential change and explosive information growth, if you aren’t learning, you’re failing. But beyond that general truth, there are numerous benefits from having a training and learning program for your business’ bottom line. Here are the top level items:

  • Increase productivity. Ongoing learning and training will ensure your team is up-to-date with the latest technologies and practices in your sector.
  • Create a safe environment. While not glamorous, safety matters, and ensuring that employees practice safe workplace behavior enables you to reduce risk and related insurance costs.
  • Hire the person with the right attitude and best fit with your team. Specific skills (like programming languages, for example, or proprietary processes) can be learned on the job; it’s harder to teach a strong work ethic or good attitude.
  • Boost employee engagement, and in turn effectiveness. Investing in learning opportunities improves employee engagement, and in turn, engaged employees are more productive.  
  • Innovation. Develop new skills and abilities on an ongoing basis means your organization will be positioned to innovate and create new practices, products and services.
  • Show them you care. Investing in employee development is connected to increased job satisfaction and thus increased employee retention rates.

Are We Talking About Training or Learning?

But the real stickler about this question for me was the use of “training”. I’m on a personal mission to replace “training” with “learning”. Language matters, and changing the language you use about training is the first step to changing your company’s culture to one that values collaboration and both formal and informal learning.

When you talk about “training”, it suggests a session in a room with an instructor or facilitator lecturing about new skills. Training sounds like something you do to an employee. The majority of development of new skills occurs informally, through collaborative problem-solving and through the learner accessing resources (including elearning content) independently.

Create a culture that values learning and you’ll access all the benefits of an “internal training program” listed above.

Image Credit: Rob Rover on Flickr