According to Forbes, technology is changing so rapidly that the need for employees who can learn and adapt is outpacing the need for traditional “knowledge workers.” Jacob Morgan, Forbes contributor, adds, “Alongside the growth of learning workers comes the growth of learning organizations. These organizations are led by learning workers who adapt and evolve as the industry changes. Instead of having a stiff business plan and set of processes, learning organizations value collaboration and innovation. As the future of work continues to take shape, learning organizations are the ones that will be leading the pack.”1
So, what does it mean to be a “learning organization” and what are some of the ways companies can encourage a leading-edge, learning culture?
In 2005, Marsh & McLennan Agency answered this question by forming a department dedicated to providing company-wide learning opportunities. Since its inception, our Organizational Learning department has developed educational programs using industry-leading methodologies and solutions that support our business strategies by improving leadership abilities, technical and systems knowledge, and personal and professional excellence.
Organizational Learning Philosophy
MMA's Mission Statement is embodied by "the 3 Cs". We exist to serve: Our Clients, Our Colleagues, and Our Community. Our learning philosophy also serves those three constituents, here’s how:
Clients: As our President and COO, Hal Dunning, says, “Our best long-term differentiator is that our associates are the best at what they do. In today’s rapidly changing world, the only way to be the best at what you do is to continuously learn.” We’ve found that fostering ongoing learning helps us provide the best possible service to our clients. In short: the more our associates learn, the more passionate they become about the subject-matter and the more capable they are of sharing that knowledge while finding solutions that meet the specific needs of our clients.
Colleagues: One of the ways in which we support our learning workers is through a program we’ve developed that creates individualized learning opportunities - Personal Excellence Plan (P.E.P.). In partnership with their manager, associates are encouraged to examine their short and long-term career interests to determine their professional development goals. We don’t take a “one-size-fits-all” approach to creating a P.E.P. because every person joins the firm with unique skills and interests. When employees are knowledgeable and engaged, they feel empowered to work harder and further develop themselves and others.
Providing learning and growth opportunities is also one of the components of high employee retention; employees stay longer in their workplace when they see how the company invests in them. Check out this P.E.P. testimonial from one of our talented associates, Andrew Mendoza.
Community: One of the many ways our firm gives back to our communities is by sharing our knowledge. The most effective way for adults to learn something is to teach that “something” to someone else. We offer several seminars and webinars each month covering the latest topics relevant to both our clients and communities. Check out MMA's events page for a schedule of upcoming seminars.
Building a Successful Individualized Learning Philosophy
Over the past decade, we’ve found these to be the most important factors in supporting our associates learning goals:
- Involve leadership. A learning culture has to start at the top and have direct ties to a company’s mission, vision and values. It’s crucial to have buy-in and support from leadership and managers to have an effective learning program.
- Provide relevant solutions. With so many online courses and seminars out there, it can be overwhelming for an employee to decide what will work best for them. Partner with both employees and managers to search for learning solutions that are tied to individual and department needs while within budget.
- Evaluate learning programs. Have ongoing conversations about what’s working and what isn’t in order to continually improve upon learning solutions. Don’t forget to also celebrate successes along the way. A simple email congratulations or an extra bonus will not only reward the employee’s achievement, but also encourage others to jump on board.
Learning programs like P.E.P. are a great way to ensure that your company is staying on the leading-edge in your industry. Those interested in learning more can contact Jessica or Cindy Nevarez, Organizational Learning Manager. The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is also the industry standard and a great resource for developing your learning workers.
1Morgan, J. “Say Goodbye To Knowledge Workers And Welcome To Learning Workers,” available at http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobmorgan/2016/06/07/say-goodbye-to-knowledge-workers-and-welcome-to-learning-workers/#35675cbe4398, accessed 13 June 2016.