Best Practices for Developing a Learning Culture in the Workplace
A learning culture takes dedicated effort to create and sustain. Everyone at a company–not just the leadership or a select group of employees–needs to be involved. Active encouragement of employee-learning is important for everyone to offer creative solutions, and to work collaboratively to help the culture take root and grow. The benefits of doing so are numerous.
The first step an organization needs to take to develop a sustainable learning culture is to do an assessment and figure out what kind of learning culture exists. Asking, “Where are we now, and where would we like to be?” will help you identify aspects of your organization that lend themselves to a learning culture and can help you figure out where challenges or gaps exist.
Best Practice #1: Leaders must embrace and promote the learning culture
Leaders should actively demonstrate an interest in employees’ growth and contributions to a company and provide opportunities for learning and sharing of ideas. They should also embrace learning for themselves. Learning should become a core component of the company’s strategy and overall culture. Employees will be looking to leadership to understand how the company is going to pursue this.
Best Practice #2: Leaders should emphasize “learning.”
Leaders should use words like “mentorship,” “learning,” “growing,” and developing to underscore the benefits to employees of learning new skills and information, and developing their own competencies. Leaders should also partake in learning, and everyone must feel accountable for ensuring learning is taking place.
Best Practice #3: Opportunities should be “learner-centric.”
Along with the language they use, leaders can and should make sure all development opportunities are focused on helping employees grow, adopt, and apply what they learn. This includes all formal workshops, coaching sessions, and on-the-job training. Employees will be more invested in learning if they believe that the opportunities are designed to help them succeed, create, and innovate.
Best Practice #4: Opportunities should be “outside the box.”
We get bored doing the same rote activities over and over again, and that applies to learning, too. Make sure you offer a variety of opportunities for employee learning: microlearning–offering a digestible amount of information that helps a learner achieve a specific goal–games, online video tutorials and application-oriented activities that employees can access when they need them, are worth considering. Online and on-demand access are central to the future of corporate learning.
Also, don’t underestimate or devalue the importance of stretch projects, peer-teaching, and self-directed learning. These are great ways to provide “out of the box” developmental opportunities. Most learning should be informal and only supplemented by more formal “traditional” methods of learning.
Best Practice #5: Publicize the results
Share results of learning activities including learner stories about their experiences and takeaways. Part of the outcome of these activities is not only what knowledge was acquired, but what that lead to: Was a problem solved? Did a wholly unexpected outcome cause a team to go in a new direction? What did an individual or a group think of the experience? What did a person or group gain?
Sharing those stories helps to highlight the value of learning opportunities, making employees more invested in participating, and both individuals and groups of employees should be rewarded for their successes.
Best Practice #6: Create a sense of competition.
If a company wants to stand out, it needs to know what its competitors are doing well and figure out ways to innovate and pull ahead. Having industry goals beyond company-centric ones spurs employees to work together to figure out creative solutions to close those gaps.
Best Practice #7: Allow time off for learning.
There are only so many hours in the workday; it can be tricky, particularly during busy periods, to find time for learning opportunities. Leaders should allow employees to take time off to participate in workshops, conferences, and other learning experiences that will enable them to develop new skills, further refine ones that they have, or adopt new information that benefits them and the company.
Did you know that Google plans and allows for 6-8 hours a week for employees to focus on their own development? Talk about a dedicated learning culture!
Wondering how to incorporate these best practices into your own corporate learning culture? KnowledgeForce can help. Click here to get more information about our innovative, action-oriented solutions today!
For more information, read our complete employer’s guide on corporate learning and employee engagement.
Related Articles: HBR: Making Learning a Part of Everyday Work