Developing an Organizational Culture of Learning



There’s obviously a learning element to every job – very few employees can simply waltz in and start doing their job with no guidance or training. That said, a large number of organizations will start new recruits on a path of learning, only to move away from it once the individuals are suitably equipped to carry out the tasks they were hired for.

There’s some logic to this strategy. The training process can suck up plenty of time and other resources, so continuing it beyond what is immediately required may not be especially efficient. However, have you ever considered that ‘training’ and ‘learning’ are not actually the same thing? Shouldn’t your employees be exposed to new knowledge, experiences and techniques throughout their entire tenure with your organization?

It’s called a culture of learning, and according to the Association for Talent Development (ATD), it’s a hallmark of high-performing organizations. In the modern environment, developing a culture of learning should be seen as a critical complement to talent acquisition and management. ATD also found that applicants from high-performing organizations are six times more likely to commit to ongoing talent development.

Challenges of breeding a culture of learning

In light of findings like this, you might be surprised to know that a number of organizations struggle with their particular learning issues. Amidst all the information contained within Deloitte’s 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report, three key findings related to learning emerged:

  • 84 percent of executives surveyed consider learning as either important (40 percent) or very important (44 percent).
  • Regardless of their level in the organization, employees expect continuous learning opportunities to be available.
  • Many organizations continue to struggle with outdated platforms and static learning approaches, despite advancements focusing on employee-centric learning.

If you count yours as one of those organizations that struggle with learning, perhaps it’s time to take a better look at the advancements. According to online learning portal Lynda.com, some of the benefits of having a healthy learning culture include increased employee engagement, better innovation and creativity among employees, higher levels of motivation and improved leadership and emotional intelligence. 

How can your organization get started?

The good news is that the ingredients that make up an effective culture of learning may already be a part of your organization, or at least are easily attainable. A good place to start fostering that culture is letting your employees know the value – make it clear that the more they learn, the more they earn.

Building a desire to learn among your workforce should start on day one, by seeding it into the onboarding process. Showing new recruits how taking initiative and self-directing their learning can pay off for them down the line is a smart way to get them off on the right foot, eager to advance. 

Adopting a more flexible performance management solution can make a big difference – especially with the addition of an innovative learning management system (LMS). Modern technology has paved the way for targeted, self-guided learning and development programs that can be introduced during onboarding, allowing your workforce to take control of their own development. It’s also possible to tailor your LMS to specific roles, rather than simply ticking off the same boxes for every member of your workforce. While much of the journey toward a culture of learning relies on the dedication and engagement of your workforce, equipping employees with the right tools will help foster a new mindset of learning throughout your organization. 

As with all of talent management, while the people component is critical, so is the HR technology component.



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