A learning culture is a collection of organizational conventions, values, practices and processes that encourage the development of knowledge and competences among employees (Nabong, 2015). A learning culture supports having an open mindset, an independent quest for knowledge, and shared learning directed toward attaining the mission and goals of the organization. In an organization with a learning culture, continuous learning is encouraged and there is a belief that systems influence each other. Continual learning improves the individual in the working environment, and it also creates opportunities for the organization to transform for the better. This article will explore the concept of a learning culture, and how it can be developed in organizations.
A learning culture is especially important in the current business climate, as it helps organizations be sensitive to changes in their external environment. It also makes organizations aware when there is disruption, and take action quickly across the whole organization to ensure survival or growth (Paine, 2019).
According to research by Bersin (2010) companies who effectively nurture their workforce’s desire to learn are at least 30% more likely to be market leaders in their industries over an extended period. Harnessing a learning culture in an organization has many benefits which include:
- Improved employee efficiency, productivity and profit for the organization
- Employee job satisfaction and reduced turnover
- A mind-set of improvement among employees
- A sense of accountability and ownership
- An easy succession policy
- A culture of knowledge inquiry and sharing
- An improved ability for workers to adapt to change within the organization
For the effectiveness of learning programs, the knowledge acquired must be about the business. Furthermore, employees in the organization should work as a team, rather than on an individual basis. Working together as a team enables companies to increase their staff’s capacity more promptly and develop effective problem-solving methods.
How to develop a Learning culture in an Organization
The leaders in an organization are the first step in creating a learning culture. For the training initiative to work, these leaders should be in support of it. This will ensure that the training programs are received positively by members of staff as the ideas are passed down from their leadership. Leaders are also able to influence their subordinates to think in a certain way and be receptive of any changes the organization may want to implement. Listed below are some of the key steps in creating a learning culture in the workplace are:
Formalizing training and development plans
For a learning culture to be embedded in the organization, it should be compulsory for all individuals in the organization. Training and development plans that are not formalized run the risk of not being taken seriously and as a result, not implemented.
Learning of new skills should be formally recognized
Employees who have successfully learnt new skills and abilities should be formally recognized. A reward system may also be put in place to recognize the achievements and encourage others to emulate the same.
Seek feedback from employees
After training and development programs have been done, feedback should be requested from employees. This will help in assessing how helpful the training program is, and if it is a worthwhile investment for the organization.
Foster a culture of internal promotions
One of the benefits of having a deeply-rooted learning culture is having employees who have been developed and are ready for a new role. Once a new vacancy arises within the organization, the first step should be opening it up to employees. This will also help them in gaining more knowledge.
Develop knowledge and information sharing
Formalizing the knowledge and information sharing process will ensure that everyone who needs the information gets it. Employees will be more encouraged to share knowledge and information if they are required to do so.
The Business environment is in a state of constant changes. Companies are feeling increasing pressure to adapt to the changing environment and remain relevant. An example of this on a global scale is how the engineers of long term rivals Apple and Samsung, are constantly developing new devices that are relevant to the times. Developing a learning culture is proving to become more and more necessary, for a company to stay in business.
Nabong, Tala A. (2015), Creating a Learning culture for the Improvement of your Organization, 360training
Paine, Nigel, (2019) Is a Learning Culture More Important than Learning?, University of Pennsylvania
Fapohunda, Tinuke. (2014), Increasing Organization Effectiveness Through Better Talent Management. Research journal's journal of human resource
Lindah Mavengere is a Business Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
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