Careers

Study: Lifelong Learners Report Higher Career Satisfaction

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You may think that the transition from college to career results in an end of your education, but a new study reports that if you want happiness at work, continued learning is essential.

The analysis, gleaned from a survey of 2,400 LinkedIn professionals, found that those who learn at work "are 47 percent less likely to be stressed, 39 percent more likely to feel productive and successful, 23 percent more ready to take on additional responsibilities and 21 percent more likely to feel confident and happy," writes Josh Bersin of Bersin by Deloitte, which contributed to the study.


In fact, the survey found, the number one reason that people leave their jobs is because they don't feel they have the ability to learn and grow. This response topped such other options as an unhealthy work environment, bad relationships with managers and lack of promotions and raises.

How Do You Learn at Work?

College Confidential spoke to several people who feel like they are enriched due to learning opportunities at their full-time jobs. Here's what they said:

Marketing director for a large foodservice company (Chicago, Ill.): I've been in this industry for 16 years, but there isn't a week when I'm not learning new things at work. My company sends me to professional development courses several times a year so I can work toward the next level in my career, but I also work to learn new things from other departments on my own. I schedule time with people from other areas within the company to see how they do things and then determine how I can synergize my skills with what they need. Trying to find ways for the different units to work together is a great learning opportunity that helps me and helps the company.

Receptionist/administrative assistant at a public relations firm (New York City): I took this job right out of college in May and hope to work my way up to become an associate -- the person I replaced at the front desk is now one, and I believe if I keep learning and asking questions, it will happen for me as well. One of our partners deals with European clients, so she's at work in the NYC office earlier than everyone else. I come in early every other Tuesday to shadow her and learn what she's doing, because I'd really like to get involved in international PR. Learning in this setting means I am doing everything it takes to see what her job entails, which can mean sitting in on calls and taking notes for her, making appointments or creating press sheets for her. I also learn at the front desk -- I see what types of questions journalists are asking (because I take their messages) and I've learned that our staff has to respond to comment requests on very tight deadlines. I think learning at work is the best part of the day.

Veterinary assistant (Los Angeles): I started out assisting during office visits, but I'm hoping to do surgical assists in the future, so I try to learn at work every day. In school, I was taught how to prepare surgical equipment, draw blood and administer medications, but it's very different actually doing those things. It can be intimidating to work with a scared and shivering dog who doesn't want to be with me and I see how the other people in the office get the animals to stay calm and compliant. Because we deal with living beings who have different personalities, I expect this career will allow me to always learn, because what works for one animal may not be the case for another one.

Learn at Work -- Because You May Not Have Time Otherwise

The examples above demonstrate how people learn at work, and the LinkedIn study supports the fact that the workplace is where most of that education takes place, mainly because most full-time staffers don't have much other free time. About 45 percent of those surveyed in the LinkedIn report say they work more than 40 hours a week, and 21 percent work more than 51 hours weekly.

If you are unhappy in your position, think about whether adopting a new learning style might help boost your career satisfaction, keeping in mind that it worked for many of the LinkedIn participants.