How to create a culture of continuous learning within your organization

a culture of continuous learning and development

Assigning tasks is not enough. What if your employees don’t know how to do that particular task? Moreover, how to ensure their goals align with the organization’s mission? You need an efficient learning and development process in place.

Help your employees learn and understand their areas of interest and they will reciprocate with upskilled versions of themselves – a win-win situation for both.

Take it from the industry experts- plenty of guests on our podcast, The Shape of Work, have talked about instilling learning into the very core of every organization and its employees. But before we dive deeper into it, let’s first clear out the basics:

Learning and Development within the organization:

An L&D program is ideally a well-thought strategy designed to help employees explore their interests and upskill themselves.

It results in better engagement and performance on an employee’s part. Overall, the goal is to inculcate shared knowledge and make people understand the importance of learning. 

In one of our recent webinars on building and implementing a successful learning strategy, our panelists, Kartik (Founder and CEO, Springworks) and Aishwarya (Co-founder and CEO, Peakperformer), explained to us that “L&D bridges the gap between an employee’s skills and the requirements of their role.”

Additionally, employees keep looking for growth prospects, and they expect their organizations to offer the same. If an organization fails to do so, they might start grabbing other opportunities. 

Before creating an L&D strategy, remember the kind of culture you want to build through it. That should be your deciding factor for how your L&D structure would look. 

Once that is done, start with the execution – gather the material, create the policy, and encourage people to take it up. And the final step is the evaluation of the entire process- how effective was it? How many people used the benefit? Were there any challenges?

Some statistics around L&D policies:

Statistics around L&D
  1. 94% of employees say that they are more likely to stay at a company longer if there is an investment in their learning and development. (LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report 2019). 
  1. 75% out of 1,500 L&D professionals agree that their companies will be creating more custom learning content in the coming years. (Chief Learning Officer 2020 Learning States of the Industry survey). 
  1. LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report 2019 reveals that 99% of L&D professionals agree that if skills gaps are not closed, there will be a negative impact on those organizations in the upcoming years.

Suggestions and more: Here’s what our guests at The Shape of Work had to say

Employees need to be at the heart of the L&D program

Our guest, Catherine (Managing Director and CEO of The Performance Company), says that in order to tackle the fundamental issues of an organization, the first aspect is to understand the value learning holds. 

The organization needs to analyze if the employees value learning, the no-show rate, their understanding of L&D, and more.

How to figure this out? It’s a simple answer, employees need to be at the center of the learning experiences. The entire learning experience should be executed while keeping them as the deciding factor here. 

The managers need to understand the gaps in between and how learning can help fill them.

Types of Learners:

According to Bofin (Vice President of AI & Data Engineering at CloudSEK), there are two types of learners – ones who learn from experience and the others who are like learning machines – they keep learning constantly. 

For the learners of the first type, lesser interactions due to the pandemic and remote working have affected their course of things. Hence organizations should create learning scenarios for these employees. 

Additionally, our guest talks about the sharing sessions organized within his company, CloudSEK. These sessions take place weekly, where team members speak on various topics. They also invite some knowledgeable speakers to interact and talk about these topics. More and more companies are taking these sessions seriously after the pandemic. 

“There is a difference between being taught and learning.”

Lead Learning and Talent- Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance, Clint Misquetta, also segregates employees into two types of learners:

(1) the motivated ones who can learn anywhere

(2) the ones who want to learn but lack tolerance towards the discomfort learning brings

To make it hassle-free, align the learning process with the individual’s career. More importantly, offer the individual the freedom they require.

A learning process establishes clarity, alignment with the manager, and social learning. However, it will not be comfortable/isolated and requires engagement. As Clint puts it, training is the most insignificant part of learning. It is the learner and the manager who are at the heart of this entire process. 

Not everyone can self-learn easily. Hence, the organization should be improving on these modalities.

How do you inspire people to learn new things?

There are a few general ways to build this process:

  1. Having a role model helps enhance the passion and motivation of an individual. Moreover, a role model will be able to offer extra guidance to the individual around the steps they should follow.
  2. Indicators like development, impact, retention, and others should be connected to learning. Additionally, learning should not be a part of someone’s Key Result Areas (KRA). It should be aspired for, without that.

Jane Ferre (Executive Career Coach, Jane Ferré Coaching) tells us that learning and development is a two-way street. Organizations can offer opportunities, but the ownership has to come from the employees. Individuals can learn in plenty of ways – Watch YouTube videos, social media, books, follow a blogger, etc.

Some key tips to remember:

a. Learning should be well-injected into the company DNA. It can be done better by the founders and the upper management.

b. Learning needs to be a part of the employee’s role itself with a dedicated timeframe for it. (Aishwarya Goel, Springworks X Peakperformer Webinar)

More about L&D:

“What are some workplace barriers to implementing employee learning during these volatile times? How can you overcome them?”

One recent barrier that Suhail (Head of People at dezerv.) noticed is the lack of learning through casual conversations due to remote working. While being present in an office space, a lot of learning used to occur through random interactions over a cup of coffee. 

To overcome this, it is even more important for leaders to communicate efficiently and push the team. They need to take a step ahead and encourage employees to keep learning. Enough time and space should be offered to them for their external training.

Nishchae (President- Asia Pacific, Middle East & Africa at Edcast) gives us a wonderful explanation of this. Instilling a culture of learning means involving a set of organizational norms, practices, and processes that promote growth and learning. 

Employees need to be motivated to improve their skill sets. A learning culture inculcates better productivity, efficiency, and an ideal employee experience. For the companies, learning helps with increased profit, a lower turnover rate, and more ownership and responsibility from the employees.

“To power the journey of others, you must continue to power up yourself- the ritual of being a keen and active everyday learner.”

The one aspect that differentiates people and what they bring to the table depends on their levels of capability, alongside their values.

It requires investment on the part of HR leaders to focus on learning and look at it as a culture rather than compliance to do.

“Learning is the process, and the tech is the tool to aid the process.”

Learning can make great use of tech, but it will not be helpful if there is a lack of clarity and alignment in the process. Hence, the ultimate requirement is that people have to prioritize learning. And to achieve this, the L&D strategy should be stronger.

  1. Clarity – The learner should be aware of the necessity behind his efforts and how it is beneficial to him.
  2. Alignment – It should be ensured that the manager is on board with this learning process. The managers need to encourage this and facilitate the employees.

“Learning is a social endeavor.”

Clint Misquitta, Lead Learning and Talent, Edelweiss Tokio Life Insurance

The process is more important than the tools that can be used. Therefore, tech companies need to understand this and collaborate with them accordingly. 

“It is better to have conversations rather than assuming.”

Having monthly conversations with the team is a key aspect of creating a future-proof workplace in terms of learning. Karthik (Co-founder of Flexiple) explains that managers need to ask what skill-sets and growth a particular person expects. The employees need to be able to see a certain trajectory of growth as well.

One more gap occurs between the management and the employees because of the time consumed. While the employees prefer going fast-paced, the top management sees it as a long-term process. Hence, it is important to make the employees understand how the growth of the company will impact employee growth.

They need to assign new areas and responsibilities to employees. 

Karthik mentioned that it all came down to “how can we make people uncomfortable with growth?”

To grow, one has to leave their comfort zone. Karthik’s organization is looking to offer an allowance for any learning courses/books/educational material, etc. Moreover, they also ensure that employees share it with their teammates and get to implement what they learn.

Implement the knowledge gained:

After the onset of the pandemic, training schemes seemed feasible virtually with simple presentations. However, these lacked interaction between the parties leaving no value in it.

As Catherine mentions, candidates need to be able to prove their learning application during the training itself. That is how one can measure the effectiveness/success of the training program.

Thoughts on gamifying the entire process:

Promoting and recognizing every learner’s win publicly has a significant impact. It sends a clear message to individuals showing that learning is a business process integral to success.

Creating healthy competition, having leaderboards or micro-credentials, and bringing them into the sphere of L&D can help and support building the right learning behaviors.

“The way in which you and your employees learn is the only competitive sustainable advantage.”

Nishchae Suri, President- Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa at Edcast

In today’s rapid, competition-based world, it is important to create a multifaceted and flexible learning ecosystem. The best strategy is to “set the context and get out of the learner’s way”.

How can companies leverage L&D for their own growth?

84% of employers are set to rapidly digitize working processes. They have fundamentally begun to reshape how their businesses perform to benefit both employees and customers. Companies have allied with technology. Therefore, it has made the HR domain more data-driven and analytical. L&D trainers had to upskill themselves as well. 

With the change in the corporate landscape, organizations continue to leverage technology, bridge the skill gap, and enable upskilling and reskilling. Nishchae further mentions that collaborative learning and virtual experiences platforms have been more supportive in this process. Data-driven marketing, Artificial Intelligence, AR and VR, and other technologies help businesses sustain and thrive. 

Measuring the budget and outcome of L&D programs:

In our webinar on building and implementing L&D strategies, Kartik explained that the L&D budget can be measured by multiplying the number of employees willing to learn with the cost of the courses you can offer.

To measure the outcome of the program, Aishwarya explains three steps:

a. Measure the goals of your L&D program.

b. Encourage employees to take regular feedback from the manager.

c. Have a regular 360-degree review within the organization.

Different approaches towards learning:

We need to have more cohort-based learning:

Cohort-based learning is a new route that disseminates knowledge from practitioners in groups. As Catherine states, currently sharing information for the greater good should be considered an “honorable act”. Therefore, there should be more learning and discussions around cross-cultural and cross-organizational topics and concepts. Even while being competitors, everyone is on the same journey.

All about Social Learning:

Amandeep (Principal IT Consultant at BEC Financial Technologies) introduces us to the concept of social learning- this learning is done through other people’s implementation of ideas and practices. For instance, when one person works on a specific task, other people can learn through the methods he used and the mistakes he made. There are five stages of social learning- observation, attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.

Healthy attention to each other’s tasks and learning is a good route for bonding and upskilling.

Amandeep also gives us a new perspective on learning initiatives. He explains that learning occurs with the compilation of the digital transformation, government focus, and unions working on the overall well-being and empowerment. For small and medium organizations, government intervention is required in terms of employee training.

An approach towards personalized learning:

Nishchae tells us that a learning culture is the lifeline of an organization’s ecosystem. LinkedIn workplace learning report asked L&D leaders across the world about the biggest challenge they faced in 2020. Interestingly, 42% of the respondents reported creating a culture of learning and development within the organization.

Employees need to undertake structured L&D programs at different levels of their progress. 

Learning should be treasured, not mandated. To instill an efficient learning culture within the organization, here are a few factors to be considered:

  1. Learning and development initiatives must be intrinsically-driven. They should be more personalized on an individual level. It is based on an employee’s goals and requirements.
  2. 35% of L&D professionals said enabling self-directed learning with online learning solutions is among their top strategic priorities.
  3. Learning culture promotes ‘shared learning’. It needs to be demonstrated that learning is a part of everyone’s role.

Conclusion:

It is clear that learning and development is a key essential element for a lot of factors- employee retention, growth of the organization, employee experience, and more. Using training programs and tools for the same can make it a lot easier.

Every organization needs an effective and sustainable Learning and Development program. It might be a long-term investment, but the ROI is definitely worth it.

About The Shape of Work Podcast:

The Shape of Work is a podcast series bringing insights into the future of work and how it is shaping our workplace. We conduct plenty of more discussions around recruiting, HR solutions, employee well-being, etc. We have welcomed some extremely influential guests who have extensive backgrounds in HR, Leadership and Development, Talent Management, and more. With 200+ episodes and 14,900+ downloads, it offers insights into making every organization a better place to work.

Dhristi Shah

Hi, this is Dhristi, Content Writer and Editor at Springworks India. I am a keen learner and am passionate about everything related to writing.

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