Workplace learning is changing, and so should the training methods in an organization. You need a learning culture to establish continuous improvement and growth for employees and the business. We’ll discuss ways to create a culture of learning in the organization.
Every workplace has a unique culture, setting, rules, and procedures. Employees are expected to know, understand, and follow the rules. Workplace culture is called the glue that holds the organization together. It is the code of conduct everyone is expected to follow. While some companies explicitly define the rules and procedures, some businesses use a subtler method. The rules are implied. Everything an employee does is based on this culture.
For example, an organization that prioritizes profits will encourage employees to make decisions that bring higher monetary rewards. A business that aims to be sustainable will follow eco-friendly practices and invest in resources that don’t harm the environment. Similarly, learning culture is another type of work culture that is fast gaining popularity.
In fact, an enterprise with any work culture can integrate learning culture with the existing code of conduct. We have shifted from standardized traditional learning methodologies to flexible and employee-centric processes. Many businesses are making major changes to adopt better learning systems and provide continuous training to employees.
But what does it take to create a culture for learning? What exactly does a learning culture entail? Let’s find out.
What Is a Culture of Learning?
Learning culture is when the employees and leadership prioritize learning and improving constantly. A culture of learning at work motivates employees to become better than their previous selves.
The focus is not limited to job-based knowledge or new courses. It could be hard skills, knowledge, soft skills, or behavioral changes. Interaction with colleagues, stakeholders and customers can also be enriched. Making better decisions, handling a crisis effectively, and fine-tuning leadership skills are easier when you have a learning culture in your organization.
However, it is vital to implement the correct learning culture to see the results. Training for the sake of it is a sign of bad learning culture. The aim of building a culture of learning is to make the process enjoyable and effective, instead of turning it into a chore that needs to be done and ticked off the list.
To develop and build a worthy learning culture at the workplace, you should focus on the core values (mission and vision) of your business and the long-term goals. Identify your goals and find a way to achieve them. Use past experiences to identify where things went wrong and take corrective steps to improve the work culture and create a learning environment in the office (this also includes remote employees). Make it a point to collect data through assessments and quizzes to get insights about employees’ learning.
Characteristics of a Learning Culture
Before creating a culture of learning, you should understand its characteristics and aim to imbibe them in the office and among the employees.
The Right Mindset
Employees from a learning culture know that there’s no end to gaining new knowledge. They aren’t opposed to well-intended suggestions. Cultivate the right mindset in employees by nudging them to be open and accept new knowledge. This goes a long way when adopting new technology at work. It makes digital transformation easier.
Everyone should be able to communicate with each other at work. If juniors cannot share their input or ideas with the team leader, it’s not a good sign for the business. Communication should flow vertically and horizontally in the hierarchy. It should always be two-way. An organization with good learning culture is where the subordinates can speak their mind in front of their superiors and vice versa (respectfully, always).
There is no place for restrictive thinking in today’s world. Enterprises need to innovate and adapt to the latest changes to survive the competition. This is possible when the leadership and management are open to change. Creating a learning culture involves a careful balance of innovation, experimentation, and risk management. Employees should be encouraged to try new methods and tools at work. They should be allowed to come up with ways to streamline work or optimize resources.
Exchange of Knowledge
This is an extension of communication. In short, you create a workplace where employees not only learn but share their knowledge with others. A healthy work environment will make employees feel safe enough to share what they know without worrying about their colleagues getting a better appraisal or a promotion. Coaching and mentoring should not be fixed roles. You can also create an online repository for employees to contribute for the benefit of other employees.
Collaboration is another important characteristic of a healthy workplace learning culture. Teams should be created with employees who complement each other’s skills and experience. Employees should have a clear picture of the business goals and understand how their actions can take them closer or away from the goals. The focus should be on overall development as well as individual development.
Progressive Thought Process
The top management and C-level executives should be committed to enhancing the business through learning. Dedicated and forward-thinking management will be more efficient in taking the message to the middle and lower levels. Sharing ideas, accepting suggestions, and setting a good example is necessary to strengthen the relationship between employees and management. They should guide employees to minimize risk but also give enough space for experimentation.
Challenges in Creating a Learning Culture at the Workplace
- While creating a learning culture is important, it is not easily done. The top management and leadership have to overcome the following challenges to achieve their goals.
- Traditional training leaves no scope for flexibility. The training methods have to be changed to encourage a learning culture.
- Identifying the right content and presenting it in the right context is necessary. With too much information available on the internet, relying on wrong data can lead to adverse results.
- Tracking and measuring employees’ responses to the training programs is a must as it provides valuable insights into the quality of the course or the process of training.
- Training is expensive, meaning it is vital for the leadership to get enough ROI to continuously invest in L&D.
- Choosing the right trainers, mentors, and coaches for the task can be time-consuming. Organizations also have to decide between hiring someone from outside or asking internal employees to step up and accept more responsibility.
How to Create a Culture of Learning in Your Organization
It takes time to change your organization’s work culture to become a learning culture. Continuous effort, persistence, and using feedback to improve the processes will help you go in the right direction. Here are a few steps to create and develop a learning culture in your business.
Learning as Core Organizational Value
The first step is to establish that leadership and management encourage learning. When employees know that their company supports learning, they will be more interested in joining courses or attending training programs. If the trainers and supervisors make training seem like something to tick off a list, employees will find it a burden.
When you make learning a core value, it will start to reflect all decisions you make in the business. The L&D department will have a higher budget. The leadership will actively search for resources to help employees learn.
Integrate Learning with the Hiring Process
Employees prefer to join organizations that spend considerably on learning. Make sure candidates understand your work culture during the interviews. The HR interviewers can discuss the existing learning programs and ask for more ideas.
The intent is to show potential candidates that the organization would be the best place for them to learn and grow. They should feel confident that they will not only earn handsome pay but also have access to learning modules and advance in their career. This makes your business an attractive place to work. Being listed as one of the best organizations to work with will make it easy to hire the top candidates.
Personalized Learning Plans
Employees want to achieve their career goals, and organizations should provide them with the necessary learning system through mentoring, coaching, etc. Since each employee is different, the learning plans have to be personalized based on their strengths and weaknesses. One-to-one mentoring sessions will help employees experience 360-degree learning at work. Building a culture of learning means helping each employee identify the right career path and the necessary tools required to achieve their goals.
The company has to set up a system of self-learning where employees can follow a learning module specifically created for them (with active inputs from them). Another aspect to consider is the gap between the employee’s career goals and their strengths. For example, they may be better suited for another job/ role. Such employees should be provided with career guidance and coaching to rethink their options and look at things from another perspective.
Set an Example
The leadership and C-level executives hold a position of influence in the organization. They need to show the way by setting an example. When the administration is eager to learn and improve their skills continuously, it pushes employees to be active and seek knowledge to better themselves.
Passive leadership is not inspiring. Employees will also slip into the passive mode or move to better organizations to achieve their career ambitions. Those in roles of authority have to openly talk about their learning goals, the effort required for training, etc. Most importantly, the management has to be open to feedback, accept its mistakes, and take corrective steps.
Even though learning and its uses are rewards, additional incentives will also help nudge employees. The rewards could be anything the management decides- leaderboards, rank cards, gif cards, coupons, gifts, a shout-out on social media (or within the organization), promotion, etc.
Many LMSs already have a feature to track the learning progress of each employee and use the assessment results to award ranks and badges. These are virtual rewards that encourage employees to become more receptive to learning. The badges can be displayed beside the employees’ names and listed on the common leaderboard.
Building the organizational learning culture is a continuous process. You must create a cycle of learning, assessing, evaluating, and fine-tuning to make appropriate changes to the work culture. This requires employee assessment. Conduct surprise quizzes and tests to understand if your employees are acquiring new skills. The data from assessments can be used during performance appraisal by the HR teams. Creating assessment tests might seem stressful and add to the ever-growing list of tasks. However, it can be easy and cost-effective if you use the right tools.
For example, PrepAI is an AI question-answer generator that can be integrated with existing LMS to conduct quick assessments and quizzes. The tool generates questions from text and videos in a couple of sends. It uses an NLP algorithm to process input data and create questions in different formats (MCQs, true/ false, fill-ups, and descriptive). Customize the questions (if necessary) and get the output in PDF, Word, and Excel formats. Many leading organizations have added PrepAI to their L&D modules.
It takes time, energy, planning, and resources for a business to develop a learning culture and actively promote it among employees. The results can be noticed in the long run, as long as the leadership and employees continue to make an effort. Learning culture can convert an ordinary company into a profit-making establishment with a noteworthy brand image in the market. It delivers ROI for consistent efforts. Building a learning culture at the workplace is the way to future-proof a business from all sides.