The benefits of learning within your digital marketing agency are endless. As today’s business environment changes so rapidly, your employees need to be able to adapt quickly, they need to know the next big thing in SEO or Email marketing, and how to work with it.
Encouraging a learning culture within a company is not only proven to be linked to your direct success, but it is now also something that employees from the next generation expect.
According to Deloitte’s 2016 report on corporate learning trends, training, and development opportunities are the most attractive benefits an employer can offer to Millennials. So, not only will you attract top talent but creating a learning culture is how ideas are born, it is the best way to keep your employees on their toes, it gives them job satisfaction and keeps their jobs fresh and exciting.
On top of that, learning is proven to be healthy for your employees, too, as The Harvard Business Review shows the correlation between longevity and education, and a 2006 paper found that a single year of formal education can add more than half a year to a person’s lifespan.
Creating A Learning Culture in Digital Agency
As with most things you want to instill or encourage in your company, it has to start at the top. Leaders play a huge role in creating a learning culture, and if you want to see change within your company, then this is where it begins.
It Starts At The Top
Leaders can set an example by making it known that they are going on courses and continually learning. They can also use their positions to teach others in the company.
For instance, if anyone in a senior position has recently been on a course about Google Adwords or to a conference about social media or even read an exciting industry-related book or watched a TED talk about ‘work-life balance’ then they should then use this to do an interesting talk or presentation on it for the rest of the company to learn from.
Leaders need to share what they are learning, and in this industry, they need to be seen to keep up with current trends, so showing the rest of the team that they are doing this and passing on their knowledge is will encourage others to do the same.
Formalize Training and Development Plans
While encouraging ‘Lunch and Learns’, educational breakfast meetings, or presentations from everyone is good and fun, to really create a learning culture, you need to formalize it in the company.
Too often, everyday work takes priority of employee learning, and client work will take over a learning presentation that will continually go to the bottom of the pile.
Training and development plans need to be part of a person’s job officially, it must be mandatory to go on specific training courses or perform certain activities in everyone’s quarterly or monthly goals, and this must be followed up. This way, the idea of learning will be taken seriously and not forgotten.
Give Recognition to Learning
Recognition and rewards are always encouraging for employees, so you need to show your team that their efforts aren’t wasted. If they have been successful in learning new skills and abilities, then they should be recognized and rewarded.
This way, others will feel encouraged to do the same, and the urge to want to learn new skills will spread around the agency. As well as acknowledging when someone has learned something new, it’s also important to recognize when someone has taught someone else something too.
For example, if an employee was to hold a talk or present to the rest of the agency on a topic, then rewarding them for this will encourage others to do the same.
Communicate Your Goals
Because culture is a whole-agency issue, you must make sure that everyone knows the value that learning offers to them as an individual as well as to the business as a whole.
Don’t just announce your program in an e-newsletter or on social media posts and expect employees to just “get it.” The HR department in your agency must actively market the educational culture, share the benefits around learning and encourage managers to talk up training and development opportunities.
Make It Normal
While it’s important to formalize the idea of learning, it’s also vital to make learning just a normal part of everyday life. To do this, your employees need to know that learning and experimenting are both safe and expected—and shouldn’t be reserved only for formal training scenarios.
You want to promote a culture where people are encouraged to improve their knowledge, skills, and abilities, to better themselves and to know that it’s okay if they fail. As mentioned, it is through learning that ideas are born, and if you want your agency to thrive, then your employees need to know that they are free to experiment and to learn.
It’s not all about training courses either, encourage your employees to read books, listen to podcasts and to watch TED talks, and then teach others what they have learned.
Continually Measure and Adapt
The world of digital marketing, like most things, is rapidly changing, and to be successful, you need to adapt to new situations continually. To be successful in the industry, it’s essential to continuously measure and adjust everything you do, including learning and what we learn.
For example, if there is a new social media platform that is going to be beneficial to your clients, then you need to get trained on it asap so that you are one step ahead.
Make It Easy
Don’t make work for yourself and everyone else. Learning is fun, and it should be seen this way by everyone. People are always stuck for time, so don’t make it difficult for people to learn and make it a chore for them.
Whether it’s asking each person in the agency to send an email once a week about something new in the industry or having an all-company meeting to discuss client news, try to find easy ways to encourage a learning culture where you can.