“In this world you’re either growing or you’re dying, so get in motion and grow.” - Lou Holtz
Let's face it: among countless distractions, to-do lists, and increasingly blurred work-life boundaries, finding time to prioritize professional development is more challenging than ever. Though it's easier to skip a training or forget to read up on the latest employee engagement trends, the case for embracing a remote learning culture has never been higher. In fact, employees who see opportunities to learn and grow at their organization are 3.6 times more likely to report being happy, 3.5 times more likely to report their company helps them meeting their career goals, and 2.9 time more likely to report wanting to stay at their company in two years.
With the increased need for employees to upskill and re-skill during the pandemic, interest in learning on the job has exacerbated even further. In fact, in March and April 2020, LinkedIn Learning experienced the highest spike in history. So how do you maintain a learning and development (L&D) culture in a remote work environment? Read on for our essential tips for building a positive remote work culture!
1. Involve Every Level of your Organization
All change takes time, but for a change to truly resonate throughout your company culture, your entire organization from top to bottom needs to be involved. Have C-suite leaders explain why learning is critical to the bottom line, and ensure line managers talk to their teams about the importance of continuous learning. Managers should also remove learning barriers, like making sure team members have enough time in their schedules to take courses, and involve remote employees in L&D decision-making. When employees are involved in their own learning decisions, they are more likely to take ownership of their learning goals.
2. Assess Skill/Competency Gaps and Learning Preferences
Just like with any employee engagement program, you can't manage what you can't measure. Establish a baseline of your employees' skills and competencies by conducting a skill or competency-based assessment. It's also equally important to ask about learning styles and preferences, like finding out about how your employees solve remote work issues. Once you've established a baseline through an employee pulse survey, you can then select courses that will take your employees' competencies to the next level!
3. Focus on Diverse Learning Styles
Think of times when you or your co-workers seemed to have different ideas on how to best learn new information. Maybe you prefer to read and take notes, while someone else retains information best through charts or graphics. Just like no two people are alike, no two learners are the same. When creating learning content, incorporate different mediums, like podcasts, on-demand videos, text, or live video instruction to meet everyone's needs.
With Cooleaf, we'll work with you to design a customized employee learning program, like the "Leading on Purpose" challenge we created for Georgia's Own. In this challenge, employees developed their leadership skills by watching videos, reading articles, and listening to podcasts on leadership, all while earning incentives in the process!
4. Provide Accessible Technology
With your remote teams scattered across countries and time zones, it's critical to invest in an LMS with on-demand learning content. To get the maximum value out of your LMS, regularly update it with new content or create an engagement calendar of virtual classes. For added convenience, purchase an LMS that can be integrated with your other remote team engagement software, like Cooleaf.
5. Ensure Learning and Development is Emphasized throughout the Employee Lifecycle
Often times employees are encouraged to learn new concepts during onboarding, but to truly foster a learning culture, a growth mindset needs to be emphasized throughout the employee lifecycle. Ideas like encouraging questions, inviting team members to revise policies or documentation, having employees dictate the team meeting agenda, or taking notes in conferences should be encouraged throughout the employee journey. Even if your organization is just starting out, these small actions encourage your people to develop a growth mindset for the long haul.
6. Be Open and Willing to Embrace Mistakes
In school, getting a good grade hinges on having error-free work. Unfortunately, some employees may have transitioned this mindset into their work lives as well. To cultivate a growth mindset, managers can assure employees that failure and mistakes are an integral part of the learning process. Leaders can model this attitude by admitting their mistakes and encouraging two-way communication with their teams. Doing this will encourage psychological safety for your remote workforce.
7. Incentivize and Reward Learning
Even in a learning culture, getting people to take trainings and retain complex information can be challenging. To increase participation, consider offering rewards and recognition, like gift cards or branded merchandise after a team member completes a course. With Cooleaf, you can integrate your Learning Management System to incentivize and measure course completion. You can also implement short-term learning challenges to encourage employees to complete webinars within a specific time period. After completing a course, employees receive an automated, public recognition on the Cooleaf recognition platform. Showcasing these accomplishments leaves a positive example for others to follow.
Though rewarding course completion is a good start, it's equally important to reinforce desired behaviors. For example, Cooleaf worked with Synovus Bank to reward bankers for meeting weekly performance goals. After receiving rewards through Cooleaf, bankers surpassed their sales goals, increased their product knowledge, and had higher participation in trainings.
8. Conduct Learning Marketing Campaigns
In order to gain maximum training participation, consider conducting a marketing campaign to promote various courses. You can send monthly emails with timely themes, like sending gratitude classes during November, or market courses that target specific skills or competencies. It's also important to send communications on why learning is an important part of remote work and the potential benefits of taking trainings. By sending communications from senior leaders, HR, and line managers, it reinforces the message that learning is an integral part of company culture. Cooleaf can partner with you to create a tailored marketing campaign based on your company's goals and employees' interests, all while promoting rewards for participation.
9. Embrace Social Learning through Learning Communities
Just because your employees are working remotely doesn't mean they need to learn in isolation. To enhance virtual team culture and remote learning, create online communities based on shared interests, hobbies, or courses. Team members can hold each other accountable while creating meaningful connections in the process. Though having a hobby club or book group may seem out of place in the workplace, studies shows that people with hobbies actually perform better at work! With Cooleaf, you can create a calendar with customized virtual team-building activities, wellness challenges, and more to enhance employee engagement.
10. Increase Knowledge Transfer through Documentation
Communication and transparency are essential in all organizations, but it's even more critical in a remote environment. With limited face-to-face interaction, it's important for remote employees to document processes, procedures, and ideas. Not only does this facilitate better understanding of each other's job duties, but it also empowers employees to contribute their thoughts, think critically about their roles, and revise processes as needed. Comprehensive documentation allows employees to have access to past, present, and future learnings, even if they don't cross paths with their team members.
To take this a step further, employees can even contribute to their own employee handbook! Similar to documentation, automating workflows with communication tools, like Slack, Zoom, or MS Teams, can save time and boost productivity. Consider investing in an engagement platform like Cooleaf and integrate it with your tech stack so your entire organization can remain connected.