Author Profile Picture

Heather MacNeill


Global Head of Communications

Read more from Heather MacNeill

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

Empower employees to ‘skill up’


When you hear the term ‘skill up’, what comes to mind? For all you gamers out there, it might remind you of advancing to a new level or gaining new skills to use to your advantage against a hard-to-beat, virtual villain. For learning professionals, the definition of skill up is similar to some extent. Only, the ‘game’ involves professional development of employees, and new skills are used to fight complacency and pave the way for real-world career advancement.

When it comes to skilling up, it’s important that employees have resources at their disposal to increase marketable skills. Increasing skill sets, both within and outside job descriptions, allows for expedited career growth and deeper integration among professional teams.

According to a 2016 Jobvite Job Seeker Nation survey, 43% of employees value growth opportunities over other benefits, like work/life balance (33%) and remote working (23%). During the year prior, the survey also indicated that 35% of employees would leave their current jobs for another that provides more opportunity to grow.

With statistics such as these, it is clear that organizations must support learning and development (L&D) in order to keep their employees happy. But what’s the best learning environment to implement? The key, first and foremost, is to listen to your employees. Find out what they want – what they need in order to successfully skill up.

In the workplace, we know how much today's employees value self-direction, especially as it pertains to learning. And, this yearning for self-direction makes sense. Everyone learns differently and retains knowledge in unique ways, so learning should tailor to the needs of each individual. In order to accommodate self-directed learning that can still be supported by learning professionals, consider implementing an open learning environment.

Why an open learning environment makes sense

Let’s start with another definition. An open learning environment supported by learning technology should incorporate the following:

  • Curated, published content that stretches beyond the basics of what’s needed to fulfill specific job requirements. Content can cover a variety of business topics across various sectors to empower employees to explore the areas in which they are most intersted in 'skilling up'. 
  • Access to collaboration tools, allowing employees to network and exchange feedback with peers, clients or experts.

Below are three benefits of implementing an open learning environment within your organization:

  1. Increase employee loyalty: With an open learning environment, learning isn’t forced. Rather, it is guided. With curated resources, employees consume content at any time throughout the day. They become much more in control of their professional development and have the ability to pinpoint exact resources that will teach them skills needed to become better in their current positions. Additionally, with an open learning environment, employees use the resources at their disposal to skill up and grow knowledge in areas that will better equip them for future positions within the organization.

    The benefit for learning professionals? After viewing what employees are consuming – and the content that is resonating most within the organization – they can make recommendations to continue guiding employees along their personalized career development path. This guided, yet still self-directed model may just be the ticket to building loyalty between employees and their current organizations.
  2. Increase collaboration, both online and off: By providing options to collaborate with colleagues, like-minded professionals and experts online, you allow employees to grow their talent by expanding their thought processes. In the workplace, this transitions into more active conversations about learned concepts and increased thought leadership among employees. People who learn new approaches through collaboration are much more likely to pass the information onto others – thus a continuous learning and collaborative culture is established.
  3. Establish a network of teams: The 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report discusses the rise of ‘network of teams’, meaning employees are increasingly adapting to contribute to projects outside of their job descriptions. Supported by an open learning environment with content, a professional network and collaborative tools, employees are able to more efficiently learn what is needed to contribute to the overall organization, and teams that are outside of their direct positions. This increases internal mobility, and in turn, reinforces a shared culture and everyone working toward a common goal.

In short

Establishing an open learning environment gives employees more freedom to learn, to skill up and to gain the knowledge and expertise required to contribute to most, if not all teams, within an organization. The future of work is moving more toward this model of ‘network of teams’, and learning appears to be a key driver. Hesitant organizations that delay on implementing some form of open learning structure will fall behind the early-adopters of modern approaches to professional development.

Where do you want your organization to fall on the L&D spectrum - traditional, modern or somewhere in the middle?

Author Profile Picture
Heather MacNeill

Global Head of Communications

Read more from Heather MacNeill

Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.


Thank you!