If you aspire to embark on a career that allows you to truly shape the future of the workforce, working in human resources (HR) could be the right path for you. Human resource professionals help businesses optimize their recruiting and hiring  processes, compensation and benefits policies, and training and development, all while improving workplace culture and keeping operations running smoothly. In many ways, human resource professionals influence nearly all aspects of a business—and they can make an immensely positive difference in the lives of employees.

As with any field, however, the human resources industry is constantly changing and evolving. Those considering careers in HR must be prepared for a lifetime of learning in order to follow the latest in HR practices and maximize their career advancement.

Definition of Continuous Learning

What exactly is continuous learning as it relates to human resources, and what does it entail? Specifically, this concept refers to the ongoing educational research and development that HR professionals are expected to pursue beyond their degrees, throughout their careers. This is to keep them on top of the latest innovations, changes, and advancements in the field.

In the realm of human resources, continuous learning usually includes HR professionals attending research conferences, conducting their own independent research, serving as guest speakers or mentors, pursuing additional certifications, or attending professional development courses.

At the end of the day, if you're eager to be the best human resources professional you can be, you should embrace the idea of lifelong learning and continuous education. This in turn will allow you to best serve your own employees while maximizing your earning potential.

7 Reasons Continuous Learning Is Crucial in HR

Continuous learning is important in just about any dynamic industry where innovations and changes occur regularly. However, it is perhaps particularly critical in the world of human resources for a number of key reasons.

1. Adapting to Rapid Technological Changes

The field of human resources is changing daily, and HR professionals have a serious obligation to stay on top of the latest technological changes as they occur. This is especially true when it comes to new software and other technologies (such as learning management systems) that can improve employee productivity, job satisfaction, and retention. By being aware of these new resources as they become available, HR professionals can be among the first to implement them and reap the benefits in their own workplaces.

2. Regulatory and Compliance Updates

Human resources professionals are also tasked with staying up to date on the most recent changes in regulatory and compliance laws. No matter what industry in which you find yourself working, there's a good chance your company will be governed by regulatory boards—and that you will be responsible for making sure everyone receives the necessary HR compliance training to avoid major fines, penalties, and other legal issues.

By embracing continuous learning in your career, you can stay on top of these changes before they happen so you (and your employees) are prepared.

3. Enhancing Employee Engagement and Retention

A lack of employee engagement and high turnover rates are common problems in today's modern workplace, and HR professionals are often the ones tasked with troubleshooting them. Unfortunately, without proactive learning, HR professionals cannot expect to understand the ever-changing factors that can contribute to these issues—as well as the most effective strategies and methods for resolving them. By staying informed as an HR professional, you can better serve your organization by spearheading the appropriate initiatives to improve employee engagement and retention.

4. Building a More Inclusive Workplace

Employees are choosing to work for companies where diversity, equity, and inclusivity are core values. These companies turn to their HR teams to implement DEI initiatives, work toward cultural competence, and make these workplaces more accepting and welcoming environments for everybody.

In recent years, there have been so many advancements in the world of DEI and its role in employee satisfaction. HR professionals committed to continuous learning are able to keep up with these advancements and make the appropriate improvements in their respective workplaces.

5. Supporting Organizational Growth and Strategy

Human resources professionals are often turned to for guidance regarding overall organizational growth and the resulting strategy of such a growth plan. With ongoing education and training, HR professionals can be better equipped and prepared to lead their companies forward with innovative and successful plans of action. In this sense, well-educated HR professionals can enhance their own leadership development and be looked upon as true thought leaders themselves.

6. Cultivating a Culture of Resilience and Adaptability

Regardless of the industry in which you find yourself working as an HR professional, you will be tasked with supporting and fostering a culture of resilience and adaptability to stay ahead of the competition and set your business apart from others. As the industry evolves and changes, HR professionals need to be prepared to adapt their own practices and employee training programs to remain relevant. A commitment to ongoing learning helps ensure you have the tools and strategies at your disposal to make this happen.

7. Staying Competitive in the Talent Market

Last but not least, staying on top of your HR training will help you remain competitive in the ever-changing talent market. Right now, most industries across the United States and the globe are struggling to recruit and bring in talent due to an ongoing skills gap. Some HR teams and hiring managers are understanding the need to get creative in their recruiting efforts to draw quality applicants.

By having the most recent education and training on human resource best practices for recruiting top talent and staying competitive, HR professionals can help their businesses overcome this common problem with optimal talent management strategies.

Tips for Implementing Continuous Learning in HR

Continuous learning is undoubtedly a significant aspect of professional development in HR. It's something to constantly be thinking about in the context of your own career advancement and growth.

So, what are some practical ways you can go about implementing this concept into your work as an HR professional? Start by exploring opportunities that may already be out there. Ask your own management if there are any company-wide training programs or sponsorships that could help you grow your industry knowledge. This may include sponsorship to attend an HR conference or funding additional certifications in your field.

From there, take time to explore other opportunities that may be available to you. If you're interested in researching a topic, for example, pitch that idea to your boss. If there's a way to work it into the budget, it's likely your management team would be happy to see the initiative on your end. Meanwhile, you can study and research something you are truly passionate about, whether it be employee retention, cultural competence, or any other HR topic.

Learn More, Today

Working in human resource development can be an extremely rewarding career, especially when you get to see your own HR regulations, employee training programs, diversity training, and other initiatives make a difference in the lives of your fellow employees. Still, with HR being such a dynamic field, there is always room for continuous and adaptive learning to achieve the best version of your professional self.

Looking to get the ball rolling on, or build upon, an exciting career in human resources? The University of Minnesota's College of Continuing & Professional Studies is here to help with programs in human resources and talent development. With areas of study ranging from Human Resource Generalist to Organization Development and more, you're sure to find a program that interests you. Request more information or reach out to get started today!