The ability to adapt is necessary for organisations. This is because adapting is needed to thrive in an competitive world. For an organisation to adapt, it needs a robust culture of learning and development. This will enable it to cope with moving forces. But how can you create a learning culture in your organisation?
A successful learning culture is beneficial to employees. This is because it allows individuals in a company to learn, grow, and innovate. A strong learning culture supports continuous learning. It also encourages employees to develop knowledge, skills, and abilities.
As a result, this continuous journey and learning benefits individuals. Moreover, it also benefits the company too.
Your company’s ability to adapt is only as good as your employees’ ability to adapt. However it’s useful to remember there’s no one size fits all when it comes to learning and development (also known as L&D).
In 2020, Google, Microsoft and Adobe were recognised in Comparably’s Annual Best Company Culture Awards for their successful learning cultures. So what can we glean from these companies? How can they help us promote a culture of learning in our own organisations?
A lack of engagement costs the UK economy £340 billion per year according to Perkbox. So what’s causing this lack of engagement?
Well, the results from a review of three million employee feedback surveys were compelling. They showed that learning and development opportunities are the second most significant factor in determining engagement.
These figures show that robust learning culture is directly linked to business productivity. This has been proven. Top performing organisations are five times more likely to have supportive learning cultures (ATD Research and i4cp, 2015).
By encouraging learning and skill development among employees, organisations stay competitive. In addition, employees can also can adapt to new changes. They can also maintain high levels of productivity.
According to Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of General Electric;
The relationship between employer and employee is changing. For today’s talent, a job is no longer just a job. In other words, a robust learning structure is crucial to attract the best talent.
The opportunity to grow is vital when it comes to employee engagement. This is proven by data that shows that organisations with a strong learning culture have 30-50% higher engagement and retention rates.
This means that it’s essential to invest in your employees and commit to developing this talent. By doing so, you’ll create an employer brand closely linked to learning and development. The result of this? It will help your organisation attract growth-focused individuals when recruiting.
According to research compiled by LinkedIn, employees who spend time learning on the job are:
The research shows that giving employees opportunities to learn isn’t just good for their personal development. That’s because it has a positive effect on their team and the wider company as a whole.
94% of employees would stay at their current company if it invested in their career development. That’s according to the 2018 Workplace Learning Report by LinkedIn. This statistic tells a clear story. One that shows that a better L&D programme the key to boosting retention rates.
A PwC report from 2020 found that 80% of CEOs need new skills. And that this is their biggest business challenge. Sourcing these skills from inside your company makes a lot of sense. It saves on hiring and HR costs. What’s more, it gives employees control over their career progression.
The Society of Human Resources Management defines learning culture as “the glue that holds an organisation together”. To put this into context, while you may not be aware, every organisation has a learning culture. Including yours.
If you haven’t intentionally created a learning culture, then it has developed by itself. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Your learning culture is a product of your organisation’s beliefs, values, and norms. But not all learning cultures are created equal.
In short, a learning culture that creates the most value for your employees is the one which will in turn also bring the most benefit to your organisation.
Let’s take a look at the different types of learning culture and which one your organisation aligns most closely to.
This is the training necessary for employees to work safely and legally in a particular industry or organisation.
In many cases, it’s training that’s required by law. It may be financial compliance, GDPR, and/or compliance around equality in the workplace. Whatever it is, every company that operates legally, does it.
This is the learning required for an employee to do their job. For instance, training on how to use the software necessary to carry out tasks. This type of training often takes place during the onboarding process.
A culture of learning is one where employees are given the opportunity to acquire new skills. These skills are beneficial to the individual and the organisation’s success.
This learning is often event-driven. This means that individuals are given time outside of their job to develop new skills that they then bring back to the organisation. An example may be an employee learning specific management skills to successfully build a new remote team.
A culture of continuous learning is a step above a culture of simply learning.
In this environment, learning is an essential part of the working day. It’s encouraged and supported at leadership level because those leaders are actively engaged in continuous learning themselves.
Employees feel empowered by learning skills that will help them in their role or in a future role. This environment places greater value on the individual. That’s not all. Another benefit of continuous learning is that it gives each employee the freedom to be responsible for their own self-learning.
In short, continuous learning focuses on personal development (as opposed to learning limited to what’s required by or benefits the organisation).
So you’ve identified where your organisation fits into the above four types. It may even be a mix of two types. Either way, there’s probably room to improve.
But where do you start with creating your learning culture? Below are five ways to help you create a culture of continuous improvement:
Core values drive decision making. And decisions are the foundation for your workplace culture. That’s why it’s important to focus on continuous learning as a core value. But ensure that it’s supported by providing the resources needed to promote it.
Focus on the individual employee by developing a personalised L&D plan. This will help employees feel valued and engaged. This is about their career progression, but it’s also of great benefit to the organisation.
It’s not always needed to bring in outside experts. For example, it can be possible to source skills from right inside your company. You can encourage individuals to coach and share knowledge with each other. In doing this, you’re creating value, and improving communication and connections.
Whether this is recognising someone’s success or financial compensation, rewards can help promote continuous learning. As a result, when you recognise your employees for their achievements, it actively encourages them to continue learning.
Support from managers and leaders for learning and development is vital. This is because leadership reinforces the core values of an organisation. Yet leadership isn’t about a job title. Stakeholders want leaders who walk the walk.
Psychological safety is key to a successful learning environment. In other words, any learning environment can’t be successful without psychological safety.
According to The 2021 People Management Report, employees who feel psychologically safe are less likely to quit their jobs.
Luckily, there are ways of asking for help in a way that promotes psychological safety, as the below sketch note from QAspire shows.
In short, feeling psychologically safe at work means sharing views and feedback without fear of negative consequences. In other words, employees who feel psychologically safe can share information and ask for help without feeling like they could be penalised for it.
The feedback loop is vital for an organisation to grow and adapt. As a result, ensuring that employees feel safe giving feedback is essential.
In short, creating a strong learning culture must go hand in hand with promoting a culture of psychological safety. Therefore it’s important to work on this element of your organisation too.