According to a BCG The research shows that 95% of companies agree that business learning is absolutely crucial to their future – but only 15% say L&D has been given the high priority it deserves. This is where the challenge lies with workplace learning – we all know how important it is, but it can be difficult to understand how to embed and leverage a learning culture in an organization.
What is a learning culture?
There are many ways to define what a learning culture means for an organization. SHRM states that a learning culture “consists of a community of employees with a ‘growth mindset’. Not only do people want to learn and apply what they have learned to help their organization, they also feel compelled to share their knowledge with others.”
This definition gets to the heart of what we are looking at. A learning culture exists in the DNA of your people, processes, business objectives and values. Everyone agrees on its importance, structures are being built to ensure that the entire employee base is actively involved in learning, and this is strongly championed by leaders and managers. Every company has a learning culture, but is there also a positive culture?
Why is a learning culture so important?
Josh Bersin once said that “the biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization’s learning culture.” We are in a moment of rapid change in the workplace and a company’s performance may ultimately depend on whether it can adapt or not. Agility is the backbone of success, and this is largely determined by a company’s ability to cultivate work smart employees who feel confident and able to embrace change.
A learning culture makes this possible and more.
- Employee engagement and retention: According to the LinkedIn Learning Report93% of organizations are concerned about retention. When employees feel like their professional development is a priority, they are more likely to be motivated, engaged and satisfied in their role. This in turn leads to higher retention rates and a positive work environment.
- Innovation and adaptability: In a rapidly changing business landscape, innovation and adaptability are key differentiators. A learning culture encourages employees to explore new ideas, experiment with different approaches and stay abreast of industry trends. This promotes a more flexible workforce, essential for navigating the challenges of today’s dynamic markets.
- Attracting top talent: The best employees actively look for companies that want to invest in their personal development. It shows how they value progress and can be a huge selling point in attracting talent. A recent one Workable Research has shown that L&D and career development opportunities are becoming crucial in this endeavor, with areas of interest increasing by 7% since 2021.
How to create (and maintain) a learning culture.
It’s one thing to understand that learning is important, but the real challenge is trying to create a sustainable culture. Bee SocialTalent, we have been active in L&D for more than 10 years, helping hundreds of organizations successfully embed learning at their core. And as a result, we’ve collected some best practices along the way!
1. Leadership purchasing
To create a learning culture and truly embed it in the structure of an organization, it must start at the very top, at the executive level. Otherwise it is seen as a nice-to-have by the rest of the company. Leaders (whether C-Suite or people managers) need to help their teams realize that L&D is part of their workday. Be the example for others to follow. Let employees know that further training is not considered a lesser use of their time. The statistics support this – 56% of employees say they would spend more time learning when their manager suggested a course to improve skills.
Pro tip: Consider placing a mandatory learning time block on every employee’s calendar. Make sure that meetings, customer conversations or other distractions do not disrupt L&D. An approach like this shows that learning is just as important as other work projects.
A mistake many companies make when trying to implement learning is not talking about it with their teams. In the excitement of rolling out new training, many organizations often fail to ask basic questions such as:
- What is your current learning and development capacity?
- How much time can you spend?
- What additional skills and knowledge do you need?
- How do you prefer to learn?
Good communication and involvement of the people who actually take the courses is an integral step to success. If your teams are struggling with their current workloads, assuming they will take on additional L&D will not help with engagement and implementation.
3. Collaboration and involvement
We’re all in this together, right? Being isolated to learn as a solitary mission is never as engaging as bringing it into groups. The most successful learning cultures are those with a lot of activity around the training. Think of:
- Assigning a learning buddy; someone who can act as a sounding board, but can also take responsibility.
- SocialTalent customers, such as Nokia For example, create group viewing parties so everyone can learn at the same time in a more engaging environment.
- Set aside 10 minutes in an already scheduled team meeting to discuss the learning process.
- Make learning more of an event – encourage your team to undertake certain learning paths within a quarter and ask them to report back to the team on how this training is embedded in their roles.
Only 20% of organizations Enabling collaborative learning in the workplace – it is a vastly underutilized (and increasingly important) part of effective L&D.
4. Time management
According to a LinkedIn survey, ensuring that employees make time to learn is the biggest challenge for talent development. It’s also not difficult to understand how this happens; ‘real work’ always seems to take priority. Here are two essential ways to increase and optimize your time integrating L&D:
Time blocking: Instead of letting the to-do lists grow or using flimsy Post-it notes as reminders, actively set aside time in your calendar for learning. Maybe there are 15 minutes at the beginning of each day that you can commit? Or do you have a block of time on Friday that you can spend on this? Whatever the calendar looks like, you can be goal-oriented and find time to map out your learning.
Learn bite size: We at SocialTalent are big proponents of this. Josh Bersin It was once reported that the average amount of time an employee has to spend learning each week is 24 minutes. It seems like such a small amount of time, but if you use it effectively, it can be enough to build a consistent habit into your routine. Consistently completing small chunks of learning also helps improve knowledge retention!
Holly Fawcett, director of content at SocialTalent, spoke with Sabrina Pittaluga on how she helps her team in BCG make time for learning:
5. Recognize and reward
Recognize and celebrate the achievements of employees who are actively involved in learning. This may include establishing a recognition program, highlighting learning milestones during team meetings, or offering incentives for completing certain training programs. Recognizing and rewarding learning achievements reinforces the importance of continuous development.
Learn more: Discover how Pontoon links SocialTalent’s learning objectives to their bonus plans to stimulate L&D.
6. Measure and track the metrics
You cannot improve what you cannot measure. Start implementing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to track the impact of learning initiatives on individual and organizational performance. Measure metrics such as employee satisfaction, productivity and completion rates to see the effectiveness of the learning culture. And review this data regularly to make informed adjustments to your learning strategies.
Building a learning culture is an ongoing journey that requires commitment, leadership and a strategic approach. Companies that prioritize continuous learning position themselves for long-term success by fostering engaged employees, driving innovation and attracting top talent. By implementing the actionable tips described above, organizations can create an environment where learning is not just a task, but a fundamental aspect of the company’s DNA. Embrace the power of continuous learning and watch your business thrive despite change and uncertainty.
Discover how Engage2Excel built a culture of learning with the SocialTalent learning platform.
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