Some forms of learning are finite in nature. For instance, your employees might embark on a dedicated training mission or attend courses to achieve a specific certification.
Then, others are more open-ended. The general, continuous pursuit of knowledge is known as lifelong learning. In short, this is a form of individual, self-initiated education focused primarily on personal development.
As you’re investing in your team members, the importance of lifelong learning cannot be overlooked. Today, we’re sharing six reasons to make it a priority moving forward.
1. Encourages Self-Motivation
When employees learn a new skill on their own or discover a talent they didn’t know they had; their motivation levels will skyrocket. In the corporate world, it’s easy to get stuck on a cyclical routine, and innate abilities are often brushed over in favor of task-oriented duties.
Unless they’re actively investing in education that drives and ignites them, it’s easy for employees to get stuck in a rut. Not only is this detrimental to their mental health and well-being, but it can also show in their productivity and performance levels. Allowing them to discover what excites and encourages them is an effective way to supercharge their inner ambition.
2. Develops Auxiliary Skills
You might wonder how learning a particular skill will benefit your employees at work. Is there anything new that they’ll bring to the table simply because they now know how to knit or create pottery?
At the outset, you may wonder if this type of external education is worth the time and effort. However, think about the bigger picture.
When your employees acquire new knowledge, they learn more than just the basics. They’re also gaining a bevy of soft skills that will benefit them (and the rest of your team) at work.
For instance, knitting teaches problem-solving and patience. Pottery teaches dedication and sharpens the artistic eye. Even something seemingly simple as reading teaches analytical thinking, deductive reasoning, and improved writing skills.
Before brushing certain ideas aside, consider how they’ll strengthen the employee from within and how they can leverage those skills at home and in the office.
3. Bolsters Self-Confidence
Want your employees to feel more empowered at work? Encourage them to pursue a passion project! As they continuously strive to learn more about a topic that interests them, they’ll naturally become more confident in their abilities.
This is a much-needed attribute, especially in the workplace. When employees feel good about themselves, their career prospects grow, and their performance improves. When the opposite holds true, they’ll feel discouraged and intimidated.
According to one recent survey of 1,000 American employees, 89% are aware of their strengths, and 81% believe they will achieve their goals if they work hard. Yet, other research shows that 79% of women and 62% of men still lack confidence in the workplace.
Employees with low self-esteem are:
- Less likely to trust their supervisors or colleagues
- Less likely to speak up and contribute during meetings
- Less likely to go to their boss if they have a problem or concern
You might not notice a change overnight, but lifelong learning can reveal new strengths and abilities to your team members. When they discover these talents, their belief in themselves will improve, and that confidence will show.
4. Keeps the Mind Sharp
You’ve heard the adage: “If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!”
This applies to many areas of our physical and mental health. Just as regular exercise keeps our bodies healthy and strong, regular mental engagement helps our brains function at a high level for longer.
In fact, scientists know that lifelong learning keeps our brains active, which can stave off age-related cognitive decline, including memory loss. How does it work? Put simply, when people learn, it animates the neuron receptors that keep their brain cells functioning at optimum levels.
There’s no guarantee that the mid-afternoon slump can be avoided forever or that brain fog won’t occur again. Still, you can be confident that engaged, actively thinking employees are more likely to be alert, focused, and mentally sharp.
5. Creates More Well-Rounded Employees
When candidates apply for a job, most questions center around their work experience and professional development. Yet, there are always a few inquiries about their personal life, too.
What hobbies do they enjoy? What do they do outside of the office?
Those questions are on routine screenings for a reason. As much as an employer might think they want someone who focuses on work 24/7, the reality is that well-rounded employees are happier, more engaged, and more productive.
When someone achieves success and growth at home, their overall contentment levels rise.
They can manage conflict more easily. They’re willing to work through problems to find a viable solution. They’re more inclined to engage in teamwork and collaborate with their colleagues.
They’re also less likely to fall victim to burnout, affecting 50% of all employees. When workers find validation and success in their personal pursuits, everyday stressors are not as debilitating.
6. Strengthens Community Involvement
Some parts of lifelong learning are personal in nature. For instance, the rise in online courses has made it possible for individuals to learn a new skill right from the comfort of their own homes!
However, the more they develop these talents, they may seek out opportunities to hone them with others. There are many places to plug in, from book clubs to local coding and technology groups.
This helps employees look beyond their comfort zones, becoming more social and inclusive by nature. As their sense of community involvement grows, those social skills will translate to the workplace. Time spent actively engaging with others will improve their:
These might sound like simple proficiencies, but many employees still lack them, despite rigorous professional development. As they pursue lifelong learning in their own time, they’ll strengthen their ability to connect with themselves and others.
Encourage Lifelong Learning at Work
Lifelong learning creates happier, healthier, and more well-rounded employees. Focusing on initiatives outside of day-to-day duties might seem counter-productive, but this is an investment worth making.
Start by making learning goals as important as performance goals. Then, create a resource library that makes this step easy, filled with opportunities for personal growth and development. Offer ways to connect with inspirational mentors and encourage your employees when they achieve success.
Ready to take your business to the next level? We can help you create a workforce that’s as active and inspired as you. Contact us today to get started.