In this blog series, Study.com CEO and Co-founder Adrian Ridner interviews learning and development leaders across the industry for their perspectives on professional development, recruiting, company purpose and more. Today, Adrian chats with workforce development, retention and engagement expert Beverly Kaye.
Beverly Kaye has decades of experiencing developing learning solutions for businesses and is the founder of Career Systems International and BevKaye&Co. Among the seven books she's written is Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: Getting Good People to Stay, which shares 26 strategies for keeping employees engaged. In this interview, Kaye shares insights into how learning impacts recruiting, retaining and engaging employees.
Adrian Ridner: Why is learning agility one of the most important skills that employers are looking for?
Beverly Kaye: Learning agility is the ability to apply learning in one area to a problem in another area. It means learning from experience and it demands a certain fluidity in the learner - the ability to move from one learning vehicle to another with dexterity. More and more recruiters are looking for individuals who have a natural curiosity (critical to learning agility) and a passion for learning itself.
The traditional skills are of course important, but the skills that enable an individual to source new material and learn on the fly are more and more in demand. It demands flexibility and a level of self-awareness about one's learning style and how to bolster it. As business moves at breakneck speed, those who will be successful are learning-agile individuals who are not fearful of taking on new challenges and jumping into new situations. Tom Friedman used the word ''radically open'' and I think that's the mindset of an agile learner.
AR: Why are learning programs so important to employees?
BK: Most employee surveys that I've seen rank learning with development as a key factor in engagement. My own research for Love 'Em or Lose 'Em supports that critical factor. Our study of over 18,000 people placed exciting, challenging and meaningful work first among 25 factors that cause an employee to say they would stay with their current organization. The essence of those key words - challenging, exciting and meaningful - all rely on opportunities to learn that the organization needs to offer to employees at all levels.
Learning opportunities come on the current job (most viable) as well as with short-term exploratory assignments and lateral moves. Employees want to stay ''employable'' within their own organization and have the ability to move to other organizations based on staying up to date in their fields. An organization that doesn't focus on employability will not be able to engage their talent.
AR: How can employers create learning programs that engage their employees?
BK: A learning strategy that will most likely be replaced in the next few years is traditional e-learning, especially those e-learning offerings that don't include ways to keep the attention of the learner. Learning is engaging if it is offered through a variety of vehicles. Every learner has a preferred way to learn. To be truly engaging, the learning strategy has to be able to approach the learner and capture their attention and time. This demands a variety of methods and mediums that give the learner choice.
AR: What is the biggest mistake employers make when leveraging their learning programs?
BK: All generations want jobs that are challenging and keep them on their own learning edge. Most recruits will ask about the learning and development opportunities during the interview process. If the recruiter paints a picture that isn't true, there is less of a chance that that new recruit will stay. Most exit interviews report that the lack of opportunities for growth is what causes individuals to pursue those opportunities in other organizations. Alas, often all that was needed was a conversation about the kinds of opportunities an employee is interested in.
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About Adrian Ridner
Fed up with the high cost of education, Adrian Ridner started Study.com with the mission of making education affordable, effective and engaging. Today, the Mountain View-based startup not only helps students from elementary school through college with its unique online learning platform, but it also provides a flexible, convenient way for employees to develop their professional skills.