One of the core beliefs of great thought leaders like Thomas Jefferson and Sir Francis Bacon is that “knowledge is power.” Today, more than ever, growth-oriented companies and organizations are adopting some version of that philosophy to stay competitive, relevant, and legally compliant. Add to that the accelerating pace of technological and social changes, and it becomes clear that companies that lack a learning culture are at a severe disadvantage. Keeping up with the latest changes in information technology, training techniques, and information sharing platforms is also part of the big picture.
While the growth potential of an organization depends a lot on the vision of top-level executives and managers, the ability of a company to “sink or swim” hinges on the quality, dedication, and skills of its staff. Employees are a valuable resource if they’re hired selectively and given opportunities to cultivate their professional and interpersonal skills. The advantages of incorporating a learning culture into the day-to-day operation of your company run the gamut from higher employee retention to a growing competitive edge in the marketplace.
9 Strategies for Building a Learning Culture
The bottom line is that organizations fueled by an active learning culture will tend to outperform the competition on almost every level. If increasing professional development opportunities is among your goals for this year, here are ten tips on how to build a learning culture in your organization.
- Brand Your Company as an Employer that Values and Provides Continuous Learning
By stating this core value on your website, in printed materials, and in client presentations, you’ll be accomplishing a two-fold objective. Firstly, you’ll establish a reputation as an organization that prioritizes staying current on important developments, technology, and professional skills. Secondly, you’ll reinforce that company value in the minds of your staff, management, and corporate officers. To borrow a term from the advertising industry, you’ll be creating “top of mind awareness” among your staff and the public about your core values.
- Begin in the Hiring Stage
Depending on the size of your organization, you probably interview candidates and post job openings dozens of times (if not more), throughout the year. By emphasizing the central role that a learning culture plays in staff development and customer service quality, you’ll be projecting a positive image to both job applicants and the public. Getting this information out there will not only attract growth-oriented employees, but it will help you identify those applicants who care about making the most of themselves. An additional benefit is you’ll be “pre-setting” candidates to expect and be ready for professional development and working in a learning culture.
- Set the Stage During Orientation and Training
Introducing new employees to learning and training opportunities available to them, both within and outside of the company, will get them thinking about courses they’d like to take and additional skills they’d like to acquire. Employees are especially receptive to learning about and assimilating into a new company culture, so the first couple months of their employment is a good time to get them on board with the idea of professional development. The training you provide can also serve as an introduction to the available resources, quality of content, and the company’s dedication to cultivating a learning environment.
- Promote Educational Resources
Make employees aware of any education benefits your company may offer, like online learning services, upcoming conferences and webinars or continuing education courses offered at local colleges.
Having experienced trainers on your staff is also a beneficial approach to building a learning culture at your organization. They’re readily available, they’re familiar with your company culture and objectives, and they can provide groups with a customized training session within a relatively short time.
- Share Worthwhile Presentations, Training Videos, and Articles
There is a wealth of educational, inspirational, and training videos on the Internet, not the least of which are TED talks. As you may know, TED talks are “influential videos from expert speakers on education, business, science, tech and creativity.” Since many of those may align with your industry, your company’s mission, or a training program you’re planning, you might consider sharing links with staff or showing select TED talks during a meeting, seminar, or weekly lunch event. It can also be helpful to share these resources in a weekly or monthly employee newsletter.
- Make Learning the Focus of Your Internal Communications
Use every tool in your disposal to help solidify the message that your company cares about employee learning and development. In addition to incorporating this into your employee newsletter, your communications or HR department could produce a monthly podcast or video blog (vlog) in which staff who recently attended a conference or training session talk about their experience, what they learned, and how others can sign up for similar seminars or courses. That information could also be shared on social media.
- Promote Upskilling During Employee Performance Reviews
Employee performance reviews are an appropriate time to suggest training opportunities or to ask staff what skills they would like to acquire or improve upon.
- Create a Lending Library
A lending library could feature training manuals, audio recordings, and periodicals that employees can borrow or download. As you provide more educational resources, your staff will become increasingly aware of the advantages and availability of in-house learning materials. Pepsico, a giant in the food and beverage industry, is an example of a thriving corporation that values its learning culture. Quoting from its corporate website: “Effective learning experiences – whether they happen in a classroom or in the flow of work – require high-quality content, and in 2021 we have augmented our collection of videos, podcasts, articles, blogs, job aids and more. Our goal is to “mix the modalities” to keep engagement high and ensure learning retention over time and in the moment of need.”
- Offer Online Interactive Courses
Online courses can be a cost-effective and efficient way to train employees in large numbers. Thanks to advances in Learning Management Systems (LMS), HR can design trainings that are fully customized to fit the unique learning needs of each employee. They can also provide testing and other methods for HR to track to employee progress in one centralized dashboard.
Why Building a Learning Culture Matters
The advantages of providing employees with training and development opportunities range from greater staff retention to improved job performance. In a Forbes magazine article, Charlene Walters, Business & Branding Mentor, Corporate Training, on Quora, says building a learning culture at your company helps increase employee confidence, creativity, innovation, and leadership potential. “When employees believe that you care about their growth and career trajectory, they will be more motivated and committed to your organization for the long haul.”
KnowledgeCity offers a diverse selection of leadership, management, marketing, and communication skills courses which can complement your existing employee training program and position your organization for growth. Visit our learning library for a complete listing of courses. We provide relevant training modules in customer service, diversity and inclusion, project management, quality assurance, supply chain management, business planning, career development, team building, facilitating meetings, safety, social media marketing, and more.
To help you develop an engaging and effective training program at your company or organization, we’ve created a free report on how to implement a successful employee training program. Download it here.
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