The Changing Relationship Between Learning and Working
If we look back at a typical work-life scenario not so long ago, it consisted of three primary stages — learn, work, retire. It commonly began with attending a technical school, college, and the like, and obtaining a certificate or degree that proved a skill set for a particular career. Next came work — you applied that unique skill set to your job, and for the most part, this is what you did in your career. Then you retired. Then you died.
So, what used to be a relatively simple, linear work-life scenario for us isn’t the case anymore. Today, there are many more stages to work-life. The most important skill you can learn in school is how to learn (and to that end, how to unlearn, as well). To be nimble in work, you have to be able to adapt and transform yourself and do it all over again. This new work-life scenario consists of learning how to learn, with an ongoing cycle of work, learn, transform, and repeat.
How is this different today and continuing to change as we move forward? First, the place where we work is also becoming the primary place where we learn. We need to be sure that our employees are ready for this and that we are offering development and growth opportunities. More importantly, we need to make sure that we — as managers and leaders — are also ready to support this new relationship. Our fundamental relationship with education and learning needs to change to prepare us for this longevity. How we recruit and how we train, retain, and develop employees needs to be part of this new change.
Ongoing training and development can take many forms. These are three effective options:
- Many companies already have a formal or informal mentoring program for new staff to ensure successful onboarding. However, where this misses the mark is with ongoing career development within an organization. Moving to another position within a company is also another opportunity to take advantage of a mentoring program.
- Industry conferences and events. Attending live industry conferences, tradeshows, and other events is an essential investment in ongoing employee training. I’m a huge proponent of live events since there’s not only the opportunity to learn from the expert presenting, but also from peers.
- eLearning provides the structure learners need to achieve a specific skill, is broken into small digestible bits of information, and is the most convenient form of learning. In my opinion, one of the great benefits of online courses is that the learner doesn’t need to absorb and remember everything presented. When a particular concept or skill is required to review, it’s all available to the learner, on-demand.
A Time to Invest in People
As organizations adapt to current challenges, there’s one aspect of work that remains constant: employees are motivated to step up, adapt, and do what it takes to help their companies. We all know that leaders are overwhelmed right now — doing what they can to keep their employees and the business going.
Leaders can send a message to their employees by investing in them, which is an investment in your company’s future. There are many excellent industry conferences, tradeshows, and events where your staff can learn and grow and bring back new technology and process ideas to improve your business. PRINTING United is an example of a tradeshow that is low in cost to attend and that features exhibitors, educational sessions, and so much more, all in one place.
If your employees need more focused, immersive training on a particular topic, an industry conference is always a good choice. If you need to up your color skills, the PRINTING United Alliance COLOR21 Conference is a resource that appeals to printers, designers, and brand owners. If you need to improve quality and efficiency in your operations, the PRINTING United Alliance Continuous Improvement Conference focuses on that end of the business.
Of course, it’s not practical to send all of your employees to a tradeshow or conference event every year. For ongoing education, eLearning is a very affordable way to keep all of your employees engaged in improving their skills consistently. There are many inexpensive resources for eLearning, including the iLearning Center, courses on Udemy, and LinkedIn Learning.
The companies that prioritize and invest in their people in 2020 will be the very same companies that will lead in 2021.