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How to Build a Culture of Continuous Learning

Updated: Dec 12, 2021

Digitalization, automation, and globalization, alongside the changing laws and regulations of work and employment relations, are contributing a great deal to the changing nature of work. The corporate sector is incredibly dynamic, always changing, and still fiercely competitive. Success here will no doubt depend on more than just episodic corporate training.

To drive business goals and develop a competitive edge, organizations need to develop a culture of learning and development that’s always on and available. While our focus in this article revolves around how to build a culture of continuous learning, perhaps it would make sense to briefly highlight how this could be beneficial to the organization, to begin with.

Benefits of creating a culture of continuous learning

According to a Delloite report, companies that develop a culture of continuous learning stand a chance to enjoy certain benefits compared to others who don’t. Some of these include 37% higher productivity, 97% more likely to innovate, and 47% more likely to be first to market.

  • These benefits are down to the ability of continuous learning to help;

  • Improve employee competence and confidence.

  • Promote innovation and critical thinking to spark new ideas.

  • Remain relevant and prepared in the face of shifting work requirements.

  • Boost employee profile for career growth, etc

How to build a culture of continuous learning

A report by the World Economic Forum (WEF) revealed that up to 52% of the global workforce will require significant upskilling and reskilling by 2022. A further 35% would require additional training of at least six months.

HR leaders and managers, as well as other employees, need to create an environment that supports continuous to stay competitive and successful in the face of a continuous reinvention of work. Below are five of the most important tips and strategies to help with this;

1. Help employees develop a growth mindset

Creating a culture shift should start with a mindset shift.

Employees have to understand the importance of a workplace culture of constant and continuous learning. They have to understand why they have to be a part of this and what exactly is in it for them. Employees with fixed mindsets often feel defensive or emotional when receiving feedback. These types of employees will hardly thrive in a workplace with a culture of continuous learning.

2. Create an atmosphere that supports peer-to-peer coaching

Google understands the power of social learning and tries to leverage this through its Googler 2 Googler (g2g) program. The g2g is an employee-to-employee network of volunteers teaching other employees skills and courses they’ve mastered. Google says that training from this community accounts for 80% of all of its tracked training.

Such is the power of peer-to-peer coaching. Once you’ve helped employees overcome their reservations about giving and receiving feedback, you should also consider creating an atmosphere that supports social learning. This will provide employees the opportunity to share their knowledge and expertise and drive individual quest knowledge and growth.

3. Utilize strategic knowledge-sharing as a competitive advantage

Knowledge-sharing is arguably the cheapest way to encourage employee learning and growth. Employers, however, have to create strategic sharing opportunities for employees to be able to leverage this opportunity. This encourages on-the-job learning (more of this later!) while reducing the physical and psychological distance between work and learning.

To do this, employers should consider making learning content readily available for reference and leveraging tech tools and learning management systems like HCMs, LXPs, and LMS, among others, for both formal and informal learning.

4. Create a workplace that supports learning in the flow of work

One of the best ways to create a culture of constant and continuous learning is to plug-in learning tools and opportunities into existing work environments.

According to Deloitte, putting information and tools directly into the work environment will help foster on-the-job learning and effectively bridge the gap between learning and working as employees will be able to directly integrate the experience into the flow of work.

According to LinkedIn research, about 47% of employees who spend time learning at work are less likely to feel stressed. 21% more feel a lot more confident and happier, 39% are more likely to feel successful and productive, and 23% more willing to take on additional responsibilities.

5. Adopt a multi-pronged approach

The Society for Human Resource Management, SHRM, recommends that employers take a multi-pronged approach to understand employees’ learning needs as well as to develop an environment of continuous learning. This is the only way to create transparent and multidimensional opportunities for employee learning, growth, and development.

HR, as well as managers and leaders, have to understand current skill capabilities and evolving needs so they can develop learning modules and strategies to bridge the skills gap. By deploying these strategies and modules in a framework for employees, it is important to recognize that employees prefer bite-sized or chunked learning that is better suited for the fast work environments.

A successful multi-prong approach not only takes into consideration, learning styles, current skills, training objectives and experiences, but keeps engagement of the employee top of mind. This will help to prevent mental burn-out and create learning that is engaging and adapted to the modern learner.

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