You’ve probably heard of the expression “The day we stop learning is the day we die”. Although a little extreme, it is meant to shed light on the fact that life is an ongoing process of learning, discovery and self-growth. We encounter new situations, meet new people, uncover new tools and solutions to our everyday lives. In fact, we are constantly acquiring new information, even without noticing. We learn from mistakes, feel excited when we come across something shiny and new, so why shouldn’t this apply to our jobs?
For employees to feel happy, motivated and loyal to your organization, perhaps introducing a learning culture will fulfill their already innate potential for continuous growth. So what does it take to implement a learning culture in your organization?
Get into the learning culture state of mind
You don’t just offer a learning culture in your company, you need to embody it. Current and potential employees need to feel that they will be supported and encouraged in their personal and professional growth, that they will have the opportunity for continuous learning and improvement.
Although some employees may be more attracted to a good salary or good benefits, you may be surprised to discover just how many are looking to learn and self-actualize in their work. Winning the war for talent today may be stemming from such a place of growth.
So don’t just think it, prove it!
I’m sure you have all come across this term at least a few times; the “war for talent”, and if you have ever tried looking it up, you already know that it was a term coined by Steven Hankin in a 1997 article, and again in 2001 in a book by Ed Michaels, Helen Handfield-Jones, and Beth Axelrod.
Where there’s a learning culture, there’s innovation
Now, I’m not saying that the absence of a learning culture equals zero innovation, but you can imagine how continuous learning can foster change, and an appreciation for stepping outside the box and discovering other ways of looking at things.
A learning culture means remaining open to the ideas of others, as well as not only having the opportunity to experiment but also having a work environment that is responsive in return. When we are constantly being fed new information, it makes it a lot easier to identify and resolve problems. People who innovate are usually exposed to an environment that does not hold them back and encourages them, as well as the organization as a whole, to increase knowledge and ability.
And as the saying goes, “knowledge is power!” So the more knowledge we acquire, the more we are equipped to handle a changing and innovative environment.
How to know if a learning culture is right for your organization?
Do you get the sense that your employees are feeling suffocated by rigid procedures? Perhaps they look disengaged because they aren’t feeling any intrinsic motivation in their work. Their tasks and responsibilities may not pique their intellectual curiosity or their need for more flexibility.
If you consider Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, where do you think they stand? Are they driven to reach the “self-actualization” peak, this need for accomplishing full potential, to become the most they can be, or are they satisfied with a sense of belonging and stability?
Evaluating these motivations will definitely give you insight as to where and how a learning culture can fit in your company.
Can a learning culture retain your employees?
Is your employee retention rate decreasing? They might be leaving because you aren’t offering them the opportunity for personal learning and development. And if they aren’t getting it from you, you better believe that they can get it elsewhere.
Today’s millennials seek experience, want to explore passions and embark on careers that pique their curiosity. A learning culture will likely be very appealing to them, as there is more room for challenging rigid procedures and pooling together opinions. And if they have the right coach who can give them guidance based on observable behavior and talent evaluation, then this can enrich, even accelerate their growth.
When you think of employee loyalty, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Loyalty to task completion? Loyalty to people, to the organization, to the self? There are many layers to an employee’s devotion, and increasing it is no exception.
A learning culture means taking care of your most important asset
Let’s face it, when your organizational culture is set out to support individual growth and learning, you are putting time and energy in your employees. This reputation can only increase the chances of top talents wanting to work for you, or should I say, work WITH you.
This kind of culture means employees feeling valued, building mutual respect and understanding, as well as a chance to explore their true potential. Organizations may put their time and money on developing new technologies, marketing and sales strategies, even improving their products and services, but if they fail to also invest in the continuous knowledge and growth of their employees, they might not be reaching the true potential of the organization as a whole.
When work is educational and allows people to experience an “Aha moment”, it can keep your employees alive!
A learning culture may be just the thing your organization needs in order to retain and motivate your employees long-term, especially the new generation of workers that thrive on innovation and new experiences. The implementation of such a learning culture can not only benefit their own personal development but the growth of your organization as there will likely be more room for innovation, surpassing standards, increased motivation and engagement among your workforce.
Find out what drives your employees and see if they are craving such a learning culture at work!