Many organizations claim to have a culture that encourages employees to learn and pursue development opportunities. They may even have a list of resources to go along with it -- a learning management system, access to on-demand content, and training programs. But, having good intentions and intentionally fostering a culture of learning are two different things. In reality, most employees either can't find the time or don't feel like taking the time to learn is supported by their manager.
In fact, a LinkedIn survey of nearly 4,000 global professionals revealed that 56 percent of employees say that they would spend more time learning if their manager suggested a course or other opportunities to improve skills.
We can all agree that learning and development is critical to employee effectiveness and growth. But, as an extra incentive, LinkedIn also found that 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career development.
No matter how many resources your company offers, employees won't take the time to learn if they don't feel supported by their managers. Here are three ways managers can encourage their employees to pursue development opportunities.
1. Managers need to be the example.
Employees take cues from their managers. If you want your employees to take development seriously, then it needs to be a priority for everyone on the team -- including managers.
Although it may feel uncomfortable at first, sharing your development plans with your team adds another layer of accountability and sends the message that learning is a prerogative. More importantly, when employees see that their managers take development seriously, they will follow suit.
2. Educate employees on the company's learning policies and tools.
In my experience, the majority of employees have no idea what their company's policies are on learning and development. Due to uncertainty, employees never broach the topic with their managers. They either pursue their own development opportunities off duty (which no one has time for), or they chalk development opportunities up as skills they'll never possess.
However, it's not enough to just mention the company's tools and resources. Managers also have to partner with their HR teams and provide training opportunities to ensure employees know how to leverage learning offerings.
Combined, creating awareness and providing training ensures that employees know where to go to work on their development.
3. Add self-development to employee goals.
Better yet, suggest and assign specific courses. In addition to providing clarity on the areas of development, recommending specific content shows employees that you care and have taken the time to think about their progression.
Adding development to employee goals fosters accountability, and sends them the message that it's important.
Even though your company offers learning opportunities, employees will be hesitant to use them unless they feel supported by their managers. These three tweaks will not only bode well for employee development, but they will also help retain top performers.