Creating a Learning Culture

“Anyone who stops learning is old- whether this happens at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps on learning not only remains young but becomes constantly more valuable” Henry Ford.

Employees now expect a workplace that will continuously feed their minds and build their skills. In this age of artificial intelligence and automation, it is our human skills such as connection, thinking, emotional intelligence and our continuous learning that differentiates us.

Creating and maintaining a learning culture within our organisations is imperative to support the continuous learning of our people. As a Josh Bersin report highlighted, “The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organisation’s learning culture.”

A learning culture helps to increase productivity and engagement, unleash your employees’ potential and drive innovation, creativity and success. According to Bersin, “Learning Culture is what enables BP, Toyota, Microsoft, or IBM to identify the problems in their products and fix them quickly.  It is what enables Cisco and Google and Apple to “out-innovate” their competitors.  It is what enables Wal-Mart, UPS, and Dell to drive down costs and maintain service quality.  It is what enables ING Direct, Zappos, and Starbucks to grow at rates 10-100X their competitors.  And it is what prevented Digital Equipment Company, Tandem, Apollo Computer, Silicon Graphics, and hundreds of other defunct companies from embracing changes in their markets and evolving their products.”

Ciara from Pinpointing Potential, Creating a Learning Culture.

Here are some suggestions for developing a learning culture:

Make learning easily accessible: Offering blended learning opportunities takes individuals’ needs and learning styles into account and helps individuals choose which learning path best suits them. On demand learning offers flexibility and empowers people to work at their own pace. Neuroscientists have said that when people are empowered to find their own answers, they retain the information far longer than just being told what to do.

Reward continuous learning: When we measure learning along with performance, it enhances both. It is hard for employees to find the time to learn when they have constant performance pressures, expectations, targets and KPIs to meet to increase efficiency and productivity. Rewarding continuous learning, growth and improvement in the same way that results are rewarded will lead to a feeling that continuous learning is supported and encouraged within the organisation and will boost performance and productivity.

Lead by example: According to the leadership value chain model, leaders’ behaviours have a strong influence on the behaviour of their teams. Therefore, as a leader, if you model learning behaviour and are a life-long learner yourself, you are likely to encourage others to do the same.

Make knowledge sharing a habit: Knowledge sharing is a big part of creating a learning culture.  The best learning cultures have open communication where knowledge and new information and resources are shared. People should be encouraged to share their learning with other members of their team.

Start from the hiring process: If you hire people who are naturally curious and start having discussions about your learning culture during interviews and the onboarding process, this will not only help you attract candidates who have a growth mindset, but it will also make you more attractive as an employer.

Measure: Through continuous measurement of feedback, engagement, completion rates, exam results etc., you can discover the real impact learning is having on your employees.

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the others find themselves equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists” Eric Hoffer. In these times of extreme change, what are you going to do to enhance your learning and create a learning culture within your organisation?