The time to build a learning culture in your business is now. Employees of all ages and experience are increasingly interested in developing new skills and knowledge – especially as technology advances. But not all employers have caught on.
If you want to attract top talent and become a leader in your industry, developing a learning culture is a must to remain competitive.
Just look at these statistics from LinkedIn Learning’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report:
- 94% of survey respondents see the career benefits of workplace learning
- From Gen Z’s to Boomers, over 75% of respondents want personalized course offerings based on their individual career goals and skills gaps
- 99% of Learning & Development (L&D) professionals believe there will be a negative impact on workplaces if we do not close the skills gap
- 38% of business executives working with L&D professionals believe that closing the skills gap is an urgent business priority
The statistics tell a story: demand for employee learning is growing, and concern over the skills gap persists.
How can businesses step up to these challenges? The answer is – you guessed it – build a learning culture.
In this article, we explain how to develop a learning culture in your business. Drawing from the wisdom of our L&D pros, here is everything we’re sharing with you today:
- What is a learning culture?
- Why is it important?
- How do adults learn?
4-step approach to build a learning culture in your business:
1 – Ensure all employees understand their role in the business
2 – Offer customized training opportunities
3 – Make employee development a business priority
4 – Use technology strategically
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be well on your way to creating a culture of learning in your business. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so let’s jump in!
WHAT IS A LEARNING CULTURE?
There are many misconceptions about what constitutes a learning culture. Employee training is a big part of it. In fact, a culture of learning cannot be achieved without widespread, consistent, high-quality training.
However, a culture of learning MUST go beyond training modules. It has to be present in all aspects of the business.
To explain what we mean by that, let’s paint a picture of a business with a culture of learning:
- Everyone – from interns to C-suite leadership – has access to regular training
- Employees are encouraged to ask questions and take on new responsibilities
- There are clear incentives for learning and training
- There is a long-term development plan for each employee
- There are ample opportunities for staff to rise up the ranks
- Training materials are updated and based on best practices
- Curiosity and innovation are actively encouraged
- Employees are encouraged to suggest changes and propose new ideas that foster innovation or improve efficiency
These are just some examples of what it looks like when a business has a learning culture in place.
This list may seem extensive. But in fact, it barely scratches the surface!
That’s because a learning culture is just that: a culture. It is not a clear-cut set of processes. Rather, it is a philosophy and practice that must be weaved into all business practices.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?
A learning culture has countless benefits. Its genius lies in the fact that it syncs the desires of employees to the needs of the business. How does this happen? Let’s break it down:
Like the LinkedIn Learning Report showed us, employees want training and opportunities for advancement. In a learning culture, employee development is highly accessible, effective, and incentivized.
Thus, employees are more likely to update and refine their skills on a regular basis. In turn, they will not only be better at their jobs, they will also be more equipped and motivated to innovate within their roles.
As a result, your business will be staffed by employees who are highly engaged and performing at their maximum capacity.
In contrast, in a business without a culture of learning, the opposite is true. Training and development may be scarce, outdated, or ineffective.
Curiosity and suggestions might be discouraged by management. As a result, employees lack the tools and environment to consistently expand their skills. Without proper support from their organization, they may feel stagnant and disengaged.
Employees are cut off from maximizing their potential and, in turn, the business cannot maximize its potential either.
When it comes to the benefits of a learning culture, this is still just the tip of the iceberg! For a more in-depth breakdown why a culture of learning is so important, check out these articles:
HOW DO ADULTS LEARN?
A crucial pillar of a learning culture is access to effective training. Half-baked or outdated training simply won’t do!
Effective training accounts for how employees actually learn. In other words, if you want your training to make a difference, you must tailor your approach according to the way adults learn.
This may sound like a lot of work. But here’s the good news: there is plenty of research into the techniques that are conducive to adult learning.
Instructional designers create training experiences that are customized to the way adults acquire new information and skills.
Here are some of the dominant theories about the factors that influence adult learning:
- Adults want to know why they should learn something. They want to understand how learning something will benefit them directly
- Adults prefer self-directed, personalized learning over instructor-led teaching
- Adult learners are more likely to learn by doing (often referred to as experiential learning)
- Learning is maximized when a person can relate the information to their own experiences
Adult learning theories are varied and complex. The list above provides an overview of some of the most prominent principles in the adult learning space.
Now that we’ve covered the basics on learning culture and adult learning, we can tie it all together.
In the following section, we reveal how to develop a culture of learning in your business, taking into account how adults learn.
HOW TO BUILD A LEARNING CULTURE IN YOUR BUSINESS
Ensure employees understand their role in the business
When we say a learning culture is about more than just training, this is exactly what we mean.
Employees should understand their role in the business and how their daily activities contribute to the organization’s success. This is foundational to a culture of learning.
If employees don’t feel their work makes a difference in the business, they will be less engaged and less motivated to pursue training opportunities.
Therefore, the first step to building a culture of learning at your business is to ensure employees understand the link between their work and the business as a whole.
Offer customized training opportunities
Training is not one-size-fits-all. If you want to build a culture of learning, customized training is a must.
First, customizable training allows for self-directed learning, which is one of the primary ways adults learn.
Second, tailored learning experiences ensure that each employee is learning only what is relevant to their duties and objectives. This not only makes for more effective training; it also makes for more efficient training.
But most importantly, personalized training supports employees in maximizing their individual potential. And that is what a learning culture is all about!
Make employee development a business priority
A learning culture is not achieved by accident. In order to make the shift to a learning culture, employee development must be a business priority.
What does this mean? Here are some examples of how you can prioritize L&D:
When recruiting, inform candidates that development is a key benefit of the job.
When laying out strategic goals, there should be clear targets for employee development.
A commitment to learning should be emphasized in your company’s mission, vision, and/or values.
Adequate funds should be set aside for development. You may create an in-house L&D team or collaborate with experts to develop a robust development scheme.
The possibilities are endless! All it takes is creativity and commitment.
Use technology strategically
Technology is not a cure-all for business woes. In fact, layering technology on top of poor processes can result in ever bigger problems.
But when it comes to building a culture of learning in a business, technology can be your best friend.
- Adults learn by doing. Training technology offers unmatched experiential learning opportunities like simulations and gamification.
- Fundamental to a learning culture is a commitment to data and results. Tools like Learning Management Systems (LMS) allow you to track your employees’ training progress. You can even set KPIs to evaluate the effectiveness of training.
- For a culture of learning, development resources must be accessible. One of the best ways to make training accessible is to go digital. With remote training platforms, you can create a vast storehouse of training materials that employees can access anytime, anywhere.
- Interactive training boosts engagement and retention. Nowadays, technology offers many possibilities for interactive training. These include cutting-edge tools like adaptive learning, microlearning, and AR/VR.
To learn more about how technology is transforming the world of training, read our article on 5 innovative online learning tools that will boost employee engagement!
Transitioning to a learning culture doesn’t happen overnight! It is a long-term effort and requires a commitment to best practices in L&D.
If you want to develop a learning culture in your organization don’t skip these four crucial steps:
- Ensure all employees understand their role in the business
- Offer customized training opportunities
- Make employee development a business priority
- Use technology strategically
The path to a learning culture may be a long one, but the benefits are undoubtedly worth it.
Better problem-solving, engaged employees, increased innovation, and improved efficiency are just a few of the changes your company will experience.
Want expert help on your journey to develop a learning culture? It’s your lucky day! Continuous learning is what we do best here at RTG Solutions Group. Contact us today to speak with our L&D consultants!