The Power Of Cultivating A Culture Of Learning In Your Organization

Why Cultivating A Culture Of Learning Is Important For Your Organization

Learning is most effective when it is adopted as a central part of an organization’s culture. After all, human evolution would argue that we’ve developed as a species through learning experiences. As such, cultivating a culture of learning as a natural part of development can help companies vastly increase their organizational performance.

Or, as Lynda.com accurately states, “Don’t treat learning as an event to be scheduled. It’s an unbounded resource because it’s in our very DNA to be lifelong learners. Cultivate potential to boost performance.”

Indeed, a culture of learning is an aspirational concept, but what does it actually look like in practice? And, more importantly, does a learning-forward culture actually help organizations produce better results?

What Does A Culture Of Learning Look Like?

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) and the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) recently conducted a study on organizational learning culture that garnered responses from 832 talent development leaders. The study uses the following definition to define a culture of learning:

A culture of learning, or learning culture, is one in which employees continuously seek, share, and apply new knowledge and skills to improve individual and organizational performance. The importance of the pursuit and application of learning is expressed in organizational values and permeates all aspects of organizational life.

The study found that only 31% of organizations have a culture of learning. There are plenty of obstacles that can prevent the development of an organization’s learning culture. For instance, LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report found that “getting employees to make time for Learning and Development” was listed at #2 in the top L&D challenges faced by organizations (the top challenge was “having a limited budget”). Without a culture of learning, employees will fail to see the importance of prioritizing learning activities, making it even more difficult to promote a learning-forward culture at an organization.

Benefits Of Cultivating A Culture Of Learning

The ROI of learning programs can often be difficult to prove, but the benefits of cultivating a culture of learning are far easier to substantiate. According to the aforementioned ATD and i4cp survey, top performing organizations are:

  • 5 times more likely to have a learning culture.
  • 3 times more likely to use the learning culture in recruiting.
  • 3 times more likely to hold leaders accountable for demonstrating learning’s importance.

A culture of learning promotes a highly collaborative and more productive workforce in a number of ways. As a result, a culture of learning makes it easier for organizations to:

  • Increase employee engagement.
  • Retain employees.
  • Hire leadership from within.
  • Foster innovation.

...among many other benefits that come along with organizational prioritization of learning.

Start Building Your Learning Culture

Introducing any cultural change at an organization won’t be easy. It’s important that company leadership first and foremost embraces the organization’s move toward learning culture so that employees understand the importance of learning across the organization.

According to ATD and i4cp’s research, here are some four steps to start promoting a culture of learning at your organization:

  • Make time for learning.
    As mentioned, making time for learning has proven to be a top challenge at many organizations. Leadership must communicate that learning is an acceptable (and encouraged) way to spend time in any role.
  • Personalize development plans.
    Another obstacle that gets in the way of learning culture is when learning is irrelevant to a learner’s personal goals, progress, and responsibilities. Personalized learning can help to combat this and promote a culture of learning.
  • Create accountability.
    It’s not enough to simply say that your organization’s culture prioritizes learning. Hold all employees responsible for putting in the time required to regularly engage in learning activities. Learning technology such as a Learning Management System can help to manage and track accountability as it pertains to learning activity.

Building and improving a culture of learning at your organization will take time; however, it’s worthwhile to invest in the time and resources required in order to reap the benefits that a learning-forward culture can provide.

Learn more about cultivating a culture of learning at your organization – read ATD and i4cp’s full study, Building a Culture of Learning: The Foundation of a Successful Organization. Download it now!

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