What is a Learning Culture and Why do You Need One?

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business impact trainingCreating a high performance learning culture should be the goal of learning and development professionals everywhere. But it’s no easy task.

After rolling out a brand spanking new training initiative, there’ll be an encouraging spike in LMS logins. But just before the cork flies out of the champagne bottle, the logins drop off. Everything goes back to normal, there’s no change in behaviour and the training might as well not have happened at all.

It’s only once I pry a little deeper that I find out where the real problem is.

  • Did they advertise the new roll-out in advance? No.
  • Did they try to generate a conversation around the topic? No.
  • Did the CEO get involved and give their seal of approval? No.

It’s no wonder the training didn’t work – the training managers just threw the training to the learners as if they were throwing feed out to the pigs. Learners aren’t farmyard animals and they won’t just gobble up every piece of content you feed them.

It’s not enough to just put the content somewhere and tell the learners where to find it. If you want your training to have a high impact, it needs to be supported by a solid culture of learning.

Developing a Learning Culture in the Workplace

If your organisation doesn’t have a strong learning culture, then you probably won’t know what a learning culture is. Let me paint the picture for you:

You start work at 9 in the morning, but before you even get off the train, you log onto your LMS on your mobile. This is part of the routine – you’re checking to see if you have any messages, or if anyone has posted a question on the social feed.

As you go through your day at work, you might come across an interesting article. Without even thinking about it, you share it on the relevant discussion group on your LMS. Later that day, the LMS admin adds it to the library so everyone else can find it in future.

You get a million likes from your colleagues and they make up a song about you.

This is what a strong learning culture looks like. Every employee engages with their training for the duration of the day – not just when they’re sat in front of an eLearning unit. The important thing is that it’s supported at every level, all the way up to the CEO, who will go out of their way to post a weekly video, just to say “Go team!”

Why Is a Learning Culture Important?

So, cultures that support learning are pretty fun, right? It’s a lot better than logging into a learning platform every few months to read about changes to compliance documentation and take a test. Think about that for a second – a single lonely learner shivering in front of a computer monitor, having all the life sucked out of them by sheer boredom. Doesn’t that make you want to cry?!

It should do – and not just because you’ve recreated a scene from the Walking Dead…

1. Employee Engagement is at Crisis-Point

In 2013, Gallup reported that only 13% of employees are engaged with their jobs. It’s just as much of an issue today as it was three years ago. Your training programme is an important channel for engaging with your employees. For some companies, it’s the only channel they have.

Simply having a training programme shows your employees that you’ve at least thought about their development. The more effort you put into creating a meaningful learning experience, the more you can reinforce this message.

2. Improve Performance

If engagement isn’t a tangible enough benefit for you, how about this: Research by Bersin & Associates shows that a high-impact learning culture can result in a whopping 37 percent increase in employee productivity.

You might, however, be working for one of those mystical companies that are productive enough. If that’s not the case, you can get a huge boost simply by investing more in developing a culture that supports learning.

3. Prepare for Future Challenges

In the same report by Bersin, they found that 58 percent of employees are more likely to have skills to deal with future demand. You don’t need me to tell you that technological advances have got their rocket boots on (not literally…yet).

Things are changing so quickly that you need to maintain your training programme on a daily basis. Moreover, your employees need to be in learning-mode 24/7 and that’s only possible if learning is a solid part of your organisational culture.

4. Promote Social Learning

There’s been a lot of debate about it in the past, but most L&D folk agree that formal training only makes up about 10 percent of what your employees learn. Informal learning is a big slice of the training pie and social learning has a big part to play.

A learning culture works best when everybody is sharing their knowledge. If your people feel like they can have an impact on the training, it’ll have more meaning. More meaning equals more engagement; more engagement equals more impact; more impact means more champagne!

5. Nobody Wants to Work a Dead-End Job

Imagine for a second what work would be like with no learning at all. Your employees start at the bottom rung of a ladder and that’s where they stay. They’ve nothing to aim for, nothing to look forward to except the knowledge that tomorrow will be the same as today.

In a study by LinkedIn, most respondents (45 percent) said they left their last job because there were no opportunities for advancement. If you’re scratching your head over your high turnover rate, maybe a stronger learning culture is the answer to your problems!

Final Words:

So, a high-impact learning culture is pretty important, but how do you create that kind of culture?

The key is to engage everyone in your company and speak to them in a way that resonates with them. If you can do that, a high performance learning culture is sure to follow. And this can generate incredible impact for you and your organisation.

Find out how to create a truly meaningful training programme in our free guide to Epic Meaning.

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