The benefits of learning and development (L&D) are clear. Developing your team members’ strengths can lead to 23 percent higher employee engagement, an 18 percent increase in performance, and 73 percent lower attrition. Further, 62 percent of executives say reskilling has improved the customer experience, 56 percent say it has improved internal mobility, and 48 percent say it has improved bottom-line growth.
You can maximize these outcomes at your organization by creating a learning culture in which your team can grow and thrive. Here’s how.
1. Incorporate learning into your core values
Your organization’s core values signal the attitudes and behaviors you expect from your team members, so everyone can work toward the same mission. If you want to create a learning culture, consider incorporating learning and development into your core values to signal how important it is.
For example, Ellevation Education values continuous learning. They say, “We create a culture that promotes curiosity and experimentation. We are passionate about learning, improving, and innovating. We are not afraid to make mistakes and share them with others. We learn from both challenges and successes.”
2. Discuss your learning culture during your recruitment process
The number one reason people change jobs is “career growth opportunities.” Show candidates that your organization values professional development and career advancement by discussing it during your recruitment process. Doing so can help you screen out candidates who don’t have an interest in learning, while closing more of your first-choice candidates who are specifically looking for career growth.
3. Begin during employee onboarding
Demonstrate your learning culture from day 1 by incorporating early learning and development into employee onboarding. This may include company- and role-specific training to help your new hire learn more about your organization and get up to speed.
A new hire’s first month is also an ideal time to set a development plan and career path. Add this important step to your onboarding process so managers don’t overlook it.
4. Get your managers on board
Help managers become your learning champions so they will promote your learning culture within their own teams. Begin by training your managers on the importance of learning, and how they can best support it through continuous feedback.
Your managers should regularly ask their team members about their career goals, what they want to learn, how they like to learn, and how the organization can best support them. Strengths and opportunities for growth can then be mapped to development plans. Managers should conduct regular one-on-ones to discuss progress toward learning and career advancement goals and to fine-tune each team members’ development plan.
5. Make learning and development accessible
Your team members are more likely to engage in learning and development when it’s easy to access. For instance, working parents may not be able to get away for a conference, but may instead appreciate on-demand eLearning courses to complete as time allows. And some team members may not be able to afford to wait for tuition reimbursement, and would benefit from L&D opportunities prepaid by your organization.
Think through the accessibility of your learning and development program, and take steps to improve it wherever possible. Be clear about the available resources and budget for each team member, and how to use them.
6. Offer a variety of learning options
Different people have different learning styles, so offering a variety of options can accommodate more of your team. Nearly half of employees (46 percent) want to see a blended approach of virtual and in-person training. About a third (31 percent) want more on-demand virtual training, 10 percent want more group virtual training, and 13 percent want only in-person training.
You can get more people involved in your L&D program by offering different options, including eLearning courses, bootcamps, conferences, and mentorship.
7. Encourage professional development during the workday
If your organization truly values learning, allow and encourage your team members to take time for professional development during the workday. This could mean 15 minutes at the beginning of each day to catch up on an industry blog or podcast, a couple hours each week to complete an eLearning course or two, or a couple days each month to join a conference or bootcamp.
8. Encourage collaborative learning
Many learning and development opportunities can benefit multiple people within your organization. Encourage your team members to learn in a group setting, or to share their learnings with their peers. For example, you might host a company-wide lunch and learn to help your team members better navigate a hybrid work environment. Or a team member may simply share an article around hybrid work that they found useful. Collaborative learning can help teams share knowledge so they’re all aligned as they work toward their shared goals.
9. Recognize team members who invest in themselves
Take time to recognize team members who exemplify your learning culture. This demonstrates that you value learning and development, and encourages team members to continue their growth journeys.
Public recognition may also encourage other team members to step up their participation. Take some time during all-hands to highlight some of your L&D wins. This might include a shoutout for a team member who learned new skills and earned a promotion as a result. Or you might highlight the impact L&D has had on the organization, including your promotion rate, average tenure, or employee satisfaction.
10. Lead by example
Company leaders should buy-in to creating a learning culture, invest in their own professional development, and share their experiences with others in the company. Leading by example will demonstrate that learning is important and encouraged, and may lead others to follow suit.
For example, company leaders might engage in diversity, equity, and inclusion training, leadership coaching, or courses on managing remote teams. Then they may impart some of their key learning during an all-hands meeting to share their knowledge with the rest of the team.
Final thoughts on creating a learning culture
Ninety-three percent of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. And organizations that have made a strategic investment in employee development are twice as likely to retain their team members.
Your people want to learn and grow. A learning culture will help your team members be their best selves and reach their career goals, while helping your organization build a highly skilled workforce.