Building an effective learning culture in your workplace can be really difficult, but it doesn't have to be if you have the right tips to guide your path. But first off, why is a learning culture an important component of today's workplace?
The need for human technical expertise and digital competence has grown exponentially. A great example is an interesting survey of LinkedIn's market research that shows that about half of the most in-demand skills in today's world were not even on the list five years prior. What this means is that there's now an increased advantage for fostering a workplace where employees can quickly unlearn and learn skills needed to foster growth.
In this new world, what you currently know is less relevant than your ability to learn. It also means that knowing the right answers is no longer as important as knowing what the right questions should be. Employers all over are looking for a new crop of employees who are not only capable of doing their work well but also quickly learning important skills that can be used to increase productivity.
To make this possible, many companies, including Google and American Express, are now investing a lot of time and money into creating a learning culture in the workplace. These companies have rightly realized that their growth is inextricably linked to how well their employees can adapt to the rapid changes in their industry, and they've realized that only a vibrant learning culture can endow their employees with those abilities.
Interestingly, despite the efforts of many companies to build a vibrant learning culture in their organizations, these cultures are still exceptions, not the norm. Research has shown that only about 10% of companies have managed to create them, and only about 20% of workers demonstrate effective learning patterns at work.
However, there's no need to despair. There are science-backed methods that have been proven to help employees create an effective learning culture at work. I'll be sharing five of these methods with you, and they should be helpful as tips on your journey to creating a vibrant learning culture in your workplace.
One important way to make sure that employees are always learning and are always eager to learn is to make sure that there are experts to learn from. It's one thing to make courses and resources freely available to employees, and it's another to make sure there's an expert they can reach out to at any time during their learning journey.
Employers who want employees to learn voraciously should make sure the employees have the best opportunities to do so. Once you have identified these subject matter experts, whether in the organization or outside it, the next thing is to create knowledge-sharing programs. These programs must be very flexible and should be created all across the organization. One way to accomplish this is to divide people into small pods with one expert of a group of experts responsible for their learning.
Employees today see the relationship that exists between them and their employers as less paternalistic than those of previous generations. This means that they are more willing to take on responsibility for their growth and pace. This can be seen in the fact that remote workers, who don't have to work under direct supervision every day, usually get more work done than physical workers. The independent nature of today's employees means that allowing them to take control of their learning process may yield more fruits than you'd expect.
But you must remember that with freedom comes more responsibility. You must be clear about what they are expected to learn, how long they have to learn it, and you must provide them with the proper tools to help them reach those goals. Whether it's paid courses or e-learning platforms— it doesn't matter. As long as you've provided the tools and expectations, you would have made them accountable— which is a process that can even develop leadership in employees.
If you want to see real changes in the culture of your team or workplace, you need to offer incentives. Without these incentives, employees would rather just do their work than learn. After all, there are work-related bonuses to be earned by investing all their energies in their work. Managers who want to see employees shift their focus to learning need to make sure they offer bonuses to this effect. If employees see that there's just as much to gain while working as there is to gain while learning, they will be a lot more motivated to learn.
In a world where things like weaknesses are now replaced with sweet-sounding euphemisms like opportunities, it is easy to forget the value of constructive criticisms. Managers must learn to not only gauge the learning development of employees but also be capable of telling them when they aren't doing enough. It's perhaps even easier to do this with learning because there are always knowledge gaps that can be highlighted. This can trigger employees to even go further and learn more than they may be required to.
If you're a manager, you must set a good example for your employees to follow. Several studies have shown that the behavior of leaders has a great effect on the behavior of the people they lead. So if you want your employees to be voracious learners, you have to show them that that's what you are as well. You can't ask your employees to do what you wouldn't do. That's why it's important that you not only take an active interest in learning— they must also see the effects in you and the way you manage.
If you want to build a vibrant learning culture in your organization, you don't necessarily have to rely on the formal HR process that most firms use to facilitate learning spaces. You can achieve it by reinforcing positive behavior, giving constructive criticism, assigning responsibilities, and even leading by example. If you constantly do all of this, you'd have created a vibrant learning culture at your organization in no time.