How to foster a culture of learning in your organization
Every workplace should foster a culture of learning. After all, you want a team of well-trained professionals who have a sense of purpose and are constantly growing and improving. Your employees want it, too. Consider that 48% of employees would switch jobs if it meant more opportunities for new skills development. And then there are the benefits to your bottom line. Research shows that companies that invest in employee development are 11% more profitable. So how do you foster this type of learning strategy when so few training programs are designed with long-term development in mind?
Make learning accessible within the workflow
Make resources available when and where people do their jobs. Design continuous learning solutions based on how people do their jobs, and target the knowledge and skill that is most important to the organization moving forward.
Taking a purposeful, in the flow of work approach to frontline staff training works well for busy workers who have limited time and who aren’t sitting at a computer to do their jobs but can complete training on their smartphones or other mobile devices.
Prioritize learning alongside the work
It’s important to offer training that’s quick, easy to digest and available on the devices that employees already use.
But while this formal learning approach is great for long-term skills development, taking things a step further is necessary to create a learning culture as part of your business strategy. In other words, how to go beyond “learning in the flow of work” to “learning as part of the job” so people are provided with the time and resources for continuous development of new knowledge and skill. Expose employees to different roles and aspects of the job and spend time actively supervising various teams or employees (as scheduling allows) with the goal of skills development. Make cross-skilling, upskilling and leadership development a part of the equation.
Establish a learning mindset from day 1
Onboarding is the beginning of the development process, not a program with a set endpoint. It’s crucial to get it right, as the benefits of effective onboarding are numerous. For instance, employees with a strong onboarding process have been shown to improve new hire retention by 82%. In addition, well-executed onboarding has been associated with higher productivity and higher customer satisfaction. Finally, good onboarding sets the tone for the employee experience and presents the ideal opportunity to introduce the workplace culture of learning.
Demonstrate the importance of learning by making sure people have the right support from the beginning and feel confident in their ability to do the job and seek help when needed. Your onboarding process shouldn’t just involve basic training but direct coaching and mentoring with an emphasis on development.
Set expectations from the beginning and impart the understanding that training isn’t just an obligation that happens in the first month on the job; rather it’s a constant and ever-expanding path to growth. Then check in with new hires regularly to ensure that they have what they need and feel adequately equipped to do the job. Sadly, only 12% of employees believe that their company excels in the onboarding process, so make your organization the exception to the rule and establish a growth mindset right from the beginning.
Leverage data to understand people’s individual needs. What information does the employee need to complete their job? What do they already understand? What are they struggling to understand? What information haven’t they revisited in a while? An adaptive training algorithm can ascertain the answers to these questions and tailor the learning environment accordingly.
The key is to deliver the right support to the right person at the right time. And while an adaptive learning tool is a great asset to have, you should also include a range of solutions beyond digital training, including on-the-job learning, personal coaching and other resources that are directly relevant to the needs of the learner. The best organizational learning cultures are tailored to the individual.
Recognize and reward learning
It’s important to recognize and reward learning similar to sales wins or customer satisfaction. It’s easy to dish out rewards for visible accomplishments, but learning achievements often get overlooked.
Recognize people for their ongoing commitment to development, whether that includes daily participation in training, high scores, new areas of mastery or just general knowledge growth. As you witness the growth and development, it’s also important to recognize effective learning behaviors on the job to further reinforce the value of each person’s growth. In addition, take time to recognize managers for promotions and building talent within the organization.
Learning isn’t just about pushing courses at people. It’s a collaborative process that helps people learn from one another and share their insights with the workplace community. This is essential for keeping pace with change as organizations evolve and it helps the leadership team focus on critical skill development priorities.
Keep close tabs on the learning data you have. Determine what’s working, what’s not working and what’s missing. Solicit feedback from team members and make them a part of the curation process. How can learning be improved? How can each individual’s learning needs be more effectively satisfied? In addition, encourage knowledge sharing with the help of social learning and centralized communication tools.
Develop a strong learning culture
There are many ways to reinforce the value of learning and build your organization’s learning culture. The important thing is to do it. And regardless of how you go about it, it’s important not to lose sight of the why. Ongoing learning promotes a safer workplace. It strengthens workers to do their best in any scenario. It builds confidence and encourages employee engagement. It paves the way for growth and advancement.
Make sure that your employees also understand the why by effectively communicating the value and then following through to foster a true learning culture that helps to transform employees into leaders.