According to Findcourses.co.uk’s 2019 L&D Report, companies spending above average on training per employee are twice as likely to say their employees are highly satisfied. This demonstrates the impact of Learning & Development (L&D) on employee satisfaction and retention rates and it should serve as evidence of the importance of investing in a strong L&D strategy for your company. Also, the ability of an organization to learn from itself and others in its industry should be considered a significant competitive advantage in itself by anyone looking to grow in their market.
But the traditional way of doing things will no longer cut it. Generic mandatory courses that ignore employees’ personal and professional goals may in fact be causing more damage than good. And while classroom training is still effective, the variety of technology available for learning today must be incorporated into your training strategy or you risk falling behind.
A learning culture manages to steer clear from all this by creating a work environment that supports and encourages the continuous and collective discovery, sharing and application of knowledge and skills at all levels in order to achieve the goals of the organization in an organic and sustainable way.
So, the implementation of learning cultures in the workplace has become more necessary than ever as training, technology and learning needs evolve. Here are a few key factors to take into consideration as you seek to implement and promote a culture of learning within your own organization.
1. PERSONALIZE LEARNING
Corporate training has gained a bad rap after years of “spoon feeding” standardized and impersonal training programs. Learning is mainly a subjective experience and it’s important to take this into account when developing your L&D strategy by incorporating flexible and personalized learning opportunities for employees at all levels.
This personalization can be as simple as allowing your employees to access the required content at a time that is best suited to them, or by tailoring it depending on the relevancy it has to their specific role.
This may be the first step to seeding a culture of learning in the workplace. Implementing a cultural shift within an organization is hard work, and continuous exploration and re-examination is necessary to find what works best for you and your organization.
2. LINK LEARNING TO SUCCESS
A healthy professional learning culture should be a safe space where employees feel free to take risks and challenge the status quo. Where the pursuit of learning for learning’s sake is actively encouraged and supported, it enhances the quality of work overall.
But this cannot happen without first helping learners make the connection between their personal development and the positive impact it has on business success. Developing incentives to encourage learning on all levels can be a persuasive aid in the mission to establish a learning culture. Aligning these incentives so that they help make this personal and business success connection evident, such as promotions for example, is even more useful.
When professional development turns into a performance factor and is seen and measured as such by senior management, it becomes a powerful driver for employees to seek out relevant training to proactively to further their careers.
The most advanced organizations have found ways to incorporate employees’ personal goals into the company’s own strategy, so that it organically aligns success. This alignment is what defines a learning culture. In other words: one’s success becomes the success of all.
3. ENGAGE LEADERSHIP
Leadership and management were declared the top priority in corporate training in 2019, especially in companies that grew in the last financial year. Also, in a survey of over 180 L&D departments, Findcourses.co.uk found that the number one comment from professionals about how they encourage a culture of learning was through meaningful and overt support from senior leaders.
So, all the facts point not only to the importance of leaders within organizations as forerunners of innovation, but to the power they have to drive change.
Establishing a culture of learning is an important cultural shift for any company and it’s essential to have senior management on board and leading by way of example, in addition to dedicating financial resources. This means involving them not only in the creation and implementation of training programs but having them actively participate in them.
How? This could be by demonstrating their personal engagement in learning, or maybe by connecting employee learning directly to promotions as was mentioned previously, all the while providing funding for L&D leaders to support the research, creation and implementation of employee-centric programs.
4. EMBRACE TECH (BUT DON’T FORGET THE CLASSROOM)
It’s undeniable that technology has played an important role in increasing knowledge-sharing and collaboration within corporations. This should be embraced, but not at the expense of all aspects of traditional learning.
In their 2019 L&D Report, Findcourses.com found that companies with highly engaged staff were 94% more likely to offer classroom training to employees. Bringing people into a room to experience training in a group setting, where rich discussion and idea sharing flourishes, can drive a company’s change and improvement agenda.
By complementing traditional classroom training with the technology available today, you can attain a very powerful combination that helps establish a culture of learning in a more efficient and effective way while being well suited to your individual employees’ needs.
The possibilities are endless. From the most advanced virtual reality apps to simply encouraging learner groups to share knowledge via social platforms like Slack, to helping employees track and visualize their learning progress, technology should enhance the learning process.
There is no one size fits all when it comes to learning. Coming up with new and innovative ways to cultivate the habit of learning in your company is what a learning culture is all about. At its best, the pursuit of learning is woven into the fabric of all organizational life.