How to Begin Cultivating a Learning Culture—and Why Your People Want It.
November, 01 2022
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Most workers want a job that gives them ample training and opportunities to learn. With volatile workforce that shows no time of stopping, is it time for an overhaul in company culture, especially with learning?
There’s a trend affecting companies—workers are leaving their jobs or not put as much effort into them as before. Most workers say that they would be more invested in a job that helps them advance themselves, overwhelmingly they want more investment into employee training.
This wave of workers quitting, or the “Great Resignation,” does not show any sign of slowing down. According to Fortune.com, 40 percent of workers are actively thinking about quitting.¹ Quelling this should involve more (and more extensive) training. While this seems like a big ask, an organization can invest into developing a learning culture.
What is learning culture?
A learning culture is exactly as it sounds—a culture of learning specifically within an organization or company. Defined primarily by an environment that facilitates, promotes, and values learning, a learning culture can meet some of workers’ wants while increasing the workers’ effectiveness as well. For solving the problem of more employee training, a learning culture is one of the best methods as it will facilitate learning at every level of an organization.
Ideally, the learning culture should be indistinguishable from the company, part of its identity.
Why do people want a learning culture?
Most people, whether they be employees or volunteers, determine the given value of what they are doing not just by money or social good, but also the experience that they get from it. For example, 68% of employees say they would like to learn at work, but, a slightly lesser amount, 58% say they also want to learn at their own pace.² These wants, paired with a more volatile workforce, poses a problem to organizations: how do you give workers adequate training, but also give them the freedom by themselves?
A learning culture facilitates continuous learning at every level of the organization, so there will be much less work than trying to manual meet people’s training wants.
How does one build a learning culture?
It is worth noting immediately that building a learning culture will take time and while one might not see immediate results, the long-term investment will be worth it as workers will be more efficient and confident.
Create a safety net for curiosity
Fear of failure is one of the most common reasons that stifles growth, especially whenever a person’s financial stability is on the line. One of the pillars of learning culture is encouraging experimentation by having assured safety if an idea goes wrong. Furthermore, implementing project protocols like a post-mortem allows employees (and, thus, the organization) to learn from successes and failures of a project. One can gleam valuable insights, even from failures.
Develop people into learners
Learning as often seen as an inherit ability and is often overlooked because of that; however, learning is as much a skill as teaching or leadership. Think of all the times that you might have had not understood something, but you didn’t know quite how to ask it, or if you ever had to rephrase something to truthfully grasp it, then you know that learning is a skill. Acknowledging this is critical because it allows one to look for either people that have that skill or gives opportunities to up-skill workers’ learning abilities.
The easiest way to allow people to developing their learning skills is by providing them ample opportunities to learn, regardless of time, position, or device. For example, a learning management system like CoreAchieve, provides a platform that people can access and learn from anywhere.
Encourage fruitful conversions
Along with deepening relationships among people, encouraging Socratic-like conversations will provide for many natural opportunities for people to learn. The best part—these conversations don’t have to be unnecessary probing, rather encourage people to take a “yes and…” approach. Essentially, try to add something new to the conversation whenever possible.
Engaging in open conversations means incorporating feedback as well, something that should feel acceptable regardless of hierarchy. Which may mean that some traditional hierarchical structures need to be changed so people below can provide feedback. Conversations are a skill and it can be developed, but, more useful, is to modify current organizational speech standards to include more fruitful conversations.
Just like other goals within organizations, metrics are a great place to begin targeting specific elements to change. Conduct employee surveys on why they may not take risks or how much creative freedom they have on their projects. By finding the obstacles between employees and learning, one can begin targeting those elements immediately.
Surveys should also be conducted intermittently throughout the process of implementing the learning culture. Without these metrics, an organization may never know if the learning culture was ever properly conducted. Organizations track the success of front-facing projects with metrics, and they should do the same with back-end projects as well.
Don’t fear the unknown
An organization might still be using technology from the 80’s for any number of reasons: specially trained for it, lack-of-budget, or simply that it still works. However effective this might be for the organization; it signals complacency to the workers—especially younger ones. There are many different new technologies that, if implemented, can foster connection and learning between workers much more easily than old technology.
Ultimately learning and, consequently, a learning culture, is fundamentally based on continuously pushing oneself into the unknown—an often-daunting task. Yet, with the proper guiderails in place, a learning culture can naturally and effectively flourish within an organization.
The necessary steps for implementing a learning culture are:
- Create a safe net for curiosity. Employees are much more likely to explore and try to learn new things whenever they know they will not be punished for their curiosity.
- Develop people into learners. Learning is a skill that can be developed, and will be, if people are given ample opportunities to learn.
- Engage in fruitful conversations. Humans invented most of everything through conversations, if an organization incorporates things like feedback and “yes and…” into their lexicon, then more ideas will be generated just from employee’s interactions.
- Track metrics. Stop just tracking front-facing project metrics and begin tracking metrics for back-end projects as well. Surveys of employees is a great way to begin targeted changes of organizational culture and be sure to follow-up.
- Don’t fear the unknown. Embracing new technologies to an organization gives people plenty of opportunity to discover new ways to be more efficient while preventing a creeping complacency.
Developing a learning culture will take time and may be uncomfortable at points, but the results will have an everlasting, positive impact on an organization.
CoreAchieve is a learning management system that will help develop your organization’s learning culture. Employees can learn anytime, anywhere, and one any device. While your organization uses CoreAchieve to learn, CoreAchieve also has a survey feature and full tracking tools to make collecting metrics easier. Start using CoreAchieve today for free and start the first steps of developing a learning culture.
Cover photo by Nikola Jovanovic