Why You Need Continuous Learners
June 12, 2018 marketing.seoworld_11831
Artificial Intelligence working its way into all verticals, automation is the new normal and humans are happy to interface with a virtual assistant, if it can get them the answers they need, faster.
While some employers are frozen at the thought of the demise of work as we know it, others have realised this is not the end, it’s a new beginning. They’re putting plans in place to deal with this massive shift in work culture and figuring out how to hire for jobs that don’t even exist yet.
It’s no longer enough to hire staff with training in one field. To stay competitive in the changing landscape, you need a workforce that is adaptable, curious, solution-focused and always, always, learning.
The push for continuous learning isn’t just coming from new technology; there is also a generational shift with younger workers expecting to learn on the job and access new opportunities. In fact, 57% of millennials believe changing a job often is good for their career.
How to spot continuous learners
The first step to building your workforce of continuous learners is to start asking for it.
Look at the requirements you list when you advertise a new position. Are you looking for X number of years experience? Perhaps they must have a certain degree. A continuous learner may not have either of those, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have the skills for the role or can’t learn them – and keep learning as the role changes and develops over time.
Look for a combination of hard and soft skills and traits that show the candidate is adaptable to change, such as:
- Social intelligence
- Innovation and entrepreneurship
- Technical literacy
An excellent example of a company hiring for adaptability not experience is Google. Rather than looking at where the candidate went to school or interned, Google evaluates candidates through behavioural interviewing. HR looks for patterns of behaviour – whether candidates simply follow protocols, or implement process improvements.
With this in mind, it’s not surprising that arguably one of the most technologically forward companies in the world has up to 14% of staff who have never attended college.
Don’t discount the job-hoppers
There was a belief in previous generations that you learnt your skills, joined a company, and 50 years later you left it with a golden watch and a nice lunch. These days, the average job tenure for 25 to 34-year-olds is three years. And while it may make these candidates look at best indecisive and at worst disloyal, it has much to do with continuous learning.
Job-hoppers are often shifting because they have the desire to learn – or to put their abilities to alternative uses within a company – but they are not given the opportunity. In fact, Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report found that only a third of Millennials think their employers are using their skills in the right way, and 42% are likely to leave because they are not learning fast enough.
So they feel the only way to get the experience they want is to shift. Often these candidates have highly adaptable skills, and if you can feed their desire to learn, you’ll be rewarded with a high-achieving, highly-productive workforce.
How to train continuous learners
The process doesn’t stop once you’ve hired your team of adaptable, information-hungry learners. To get the most out of them, you need:
- Tailored learning plans
- Frequent skills testing, and
- Cross-training and employee rotation
Hitachi is an excellent example of a business that is adapting, rapidly, to the changing work environment. At 100 years old, with 350,000 employees, Hitachi hypothesised that it may not exist in another 100 years. This realisation pushed the company to create an environment where it can, essentially, disrupt itself. To do this, Hitachi focused on skill development to ensure it had the right people in the right places to handle the disruption, particularly in the area of leadership. Using their Cornerstone HR technology, they are now in command of their own digital disruption and their own journey to continuous learning.
The way business is done is changing, regardless of industry. By formalising continuous learning and actively hiring adaptable talent, employers can make the most of emerging technology and digital disruption. For employees, it is no longer enough to learn ‘a trade’ and then simply work. Without continuous learning, skills will become redundant.
No matter the field of work, learning and adapting are now the most essential tools for survival.