In today’s hyper-competitive job market, the challenges of recruiting talent AND keeping that talent on board (i.e., employee retention) top the list of what keeps CEOs up at night. Thus, Learning and Development (L&D) leaders are doubling down on employee engagement strategies. But the playbook for employee engagement looks much different these days, as younger generations expect different kinds of engagement in their workplace—and are willing to leave to find better opportunities if the fit is not there.
So what does that engagement look like? The number one thing younger employees are asking for is surprising: Opportunities for learning and advancement. And those learning opportunities also need to match the way this generation learns and communicates. That means a robust learning environment based on microlearning and one-on-one mentoring.
How much does a strong learning culture matter for employee retention?
A mere 31% of Gen Z employees and younger millennials (born after 1988) feel engaged at work, according to Gallup. Many do not think their work has a purpose, and they report feelings of being stressed (68%) and burned out (34%). Most do not see a meaningful path to advancing their careers in their current position.
Dissatisfaction among younger workers will boil over in 2023: Amazon, together with Workplace Intelligence, found that 74% of Gen Z and younger millennial employees say they anticipate leaving their job for a new one this year because of “a lack of skill-building opportunities.”
Indeed, this finding might be part of a larger sea-change in the workplace. LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report surveyed HR leaders, L&D professionals, and employees around the world, narrowing in on the top factors that people in every generation were considering when looking for a new job. Most of these are related to the organization’s learning culture: As it turns out, employees will leave an organization when they don’t have:
- Challenging work,
- Opportunities for advancement, and
- The chance to learn and develop new skills.
Furthermore, most leaders surveyed said offering a robust learning culture is their top employee retention strategy. The study found:
- An overwhelming desire for learning at work.
- Employees primarily want to learn to advance their careers.
- But the skill sets employees need for their positions have changed by about 25% since 2015.
- A further 50% change in skills needed by employees is expected by 2027.
According to 89% of the leaders surveyed, the future of work depends on employee learning. A learning culture benefits both employees and the organization. Workers with up-to-date skills are the human capital organizations need to seize new opportunities.
A learning culture’s impact on employee engagement
Employers benefit from a learning culture just as much as their employees. Workplace learning increases employee engagement, morale, and motivation because:
- Employees like knowing their company is investing in them.
- Learning gives workers a sense of growth, advancement, and adaptability.
- They feel more valued when the number of learning opportunities increases.
- They appreciate learning what they need to know to advance within the organization. Even when an employee does not move up in the organization right away, they still feel rewarded by the learning opportunities.
Managers play a critical role in fostering a learning culture for their team members. This can include devising a peer mentoring system, offering incentives, providing flexibility, and more.
Developing a robust learning culture
Employees know they are part of a robust learning culture when they are encouraged to continually learn and add new skills. Their managers allow them to experiment, share ideas, and take their professional development into their own hands. They see the learning culture played out at the organizational level, as well, when values, processes, and practices prioritize learning.
A robust learning culture includes four key ingredients:
- Learning opportunities for employees at every level. For example, frontline workers need to learn as much as salaried employees in offices do. Learning works best for workers who are not at desks when it’s made for mobile devices and delivered in short bursts.
- Customization for learning styles and generational differences. An L&D team rolling out new guidelines will want to keep in mind that most baby boomers want in-person learning in a group while Gen Z prefers completely virtual learning.
- Short, easy-to-access lessons delivered through microlearning platforms. When organizations have people working around the clock, it’s nearly impossible to find the right time for a group presentation. With microlearning, employees access new information at a time that is best for them.
- Relevant topics. A thriving learning culture provides a range of topics from safety to soft skills. For example, a supervisor may want an employee to brush up on how to accept criticism. Instead of waiting for the next webinar on the topic, the employee logs on to the learning platform and begins improving immediately.
Every facet of the learning culture needs to express the diversity of an organization. Employees may speak many languages. They are from different generations and have varying learning styles. The employees’ work environment affects how, when, and where they learn. When L&D leaders steward an adaptable learning culture, they are expressing how their organization values equitable learning and its employees.
Microlearning platforms deliver what employees want
Microlearning platforms serve up the ingredients of a learning culture effectively and efficiently. The Blue Ocean Brain online microlearning solution makes relevant lessons available to employees wherever and whenever they are working. Blue Ocean Brain knows employees retain more information when they learn in short bursts, so the lessons cover one topic in a concise format. The tracking features of our microlearning platform allow L&D leaders to see how much their teams are learning and retaining.
Engaging employees with individual learning journeys
Microlearning becomes much more useful when L&D leaders create learning journeys for their teams. Learning journeys allow the development of content around the topics your employees need most. The learning can align with organizational objectives, company values, and other skills topics that are vital to your operations.
For example, an organization may address the issue of unconscious bias with custom learning journeys for every employee. Their team will receive interactive lessons tailored to their company culture and needs. The lessons will be delivered one at a time over a set period of time. The goal is to guide employees from awareness to action over time and thus create cultural and behavioral change.
We are dedicated to designing and delivering the best-possible microlearning experience. Do you want to know more about learning journeys and microlearning platforms? Click here to schedule a consultation with one of our learning experts.