Continuous learning is a critical component of building a successful and inclusive workplace. While monthly awareness campaigns like Pride Month and Juneteenth provide opportunities to reflect on the experiences of others, true inclusion requires an ongoing commitment beyond singular learning events.
In this blog post, we explore the value of creating a continuous cycle of learning and how it can transform workplace cultures throughout the year.
Fostering Inclusion Starts with Human Capital
Not all diversity and inclusion training is created equal. Fostering a culture of inclusion within organizations requires a continuous cycle of learning that facilitates top-down behavioral change. As remote work continues to be prevalent, with more than 70% of employees working from home at least two to three days a week, it is crucial to ensure equitable training opportunities for all.
Creating a cycle of continuous learning not only fosters inclusion but also addresses various human capital challenges. These challenges include employees not reaching their full potential due to a lack of development opportunities, the need for upskilling, a lack of mastery of job-related skills, and the importance of workplace learning. Organizations that embrace a people-centric strategy and prioritize continuous learning are more likely to succeed in these areas.
Building a Culture of Continuous Learning
To establish a successful continuous learning cycle, HR executives should consider the following steps:
- Pre-training and Individual Exploration: Before training begins, provide participants with a teaser that highlights the importance of the learning experience and its relevance to the business. Encourage participants and their managers to discuss the significance of the training for their teams, how it aligns with business objectives, and the commitment of leadership in supporting the application of learned skills. This pre-training phase can also be integrated into onboarding processes to set the stage for continuous learning.
- Reflection and Collaboration: During formal training, offer enriching and personalized learning experiences that address real behavioral challenges. Allow participants ample time to reflect on their learnings and engage in collaborative discussions with peers to gain diverse perspectives. This can be facilitated through in-person events, group discussions, breakout forums, and more. Encourage participants to consider how they can apply their learnings to enhance performance within their teams.
- Activating Values within Work: Enable participants to further reflect on desired competencies and behaviors through flexible digital learning tools. These tools can help individuals identify and respond to behavioral issues in the workplace, initiate conversations about maintaining an inclusive and professional environment, and set standards and expectations for all employees. Offer a variety of learning options, allowing participants to choose their own path or access targeted content in increments of 30, 60, or 90 days to build good habits and focus on critical areas.
The Power of a Continuous Learning Culture
By combining a mix of learning strategies and aligning them with organizational values, organizations can cultivate a continuous learning culture. This active learning approach not only fosters inclusion but also creates a more productive work environment, resulting in better business outcomes. (In an earlier post, we wrote about the three most commons mistakes to avoid when running a diversity and inclusion training program. Passive learning is one to avoid.)
To truly foster inclusion and drive organizational growth, workplaces must embrace continuous learning as a year-round endeavor. By implementing a continuous cycle of learning, organizations can ignite behavioral change, address human capital challenges, and create an inclusive and thriving workplace culture.
Paula Garlen is Managing Vice President of Learning Solutions at ELI, Inc. (Employment Learning Innovations).