Learning and training are not the same things. An employee can be trained to complete a task without understanding why or how it benefits the organization. Having a learning culture in the workplace can encourage employees to go beyond training and gain a fuller understanding of concepts and procedures.
Why it’s important for organizations to encourage employee learning
Learning is essential to developing a well-trained workforce. Many companies fail to put in the time and effort it takes to build employee skills.
This is why “Nearly 59% of employees claim they had no workplace training and that most of their skills were self-taught” according to Lorman, an employee training company. This often leads to costly mistakes resulting from little or poor training.
Companies that don’t prioritize employee learning are putting efficiency and productivity at risk. Every organization has their own way of doing things, and these procedures need to be communicated and taught. But, you also need to be willing to change if there is a better way.
The benefits of learning in the workplace
Organizations with a learning culture are more adaptable to whatever the future may bring. And it can have a number of spin-off advantages, such as:
Increase employee engagement
Offering your employees an opportunity to learn new skills and encouraging them to develop their talents will help them see you as an employee that cares. It will improve employee engagement as they will feel valued and want to do their best for you. Moreover, it will give them a chance to put what they’ve learned to practice.
Increase in collaboration
Not every employee can master every skill. Employees need to work together, and when they are encouraged to learn, they’ll be able to share with each other what they’ve learned. You can further increase collaboration by hosting peer-to-peer learning programs and engaging employees in knowledge-sharing activities.
Your teams will be more innovative
Learning can inspire your employees to be more innovative. It can fill them with ideas to tackle challenges and solve them in new ways. Whether your teams learn in courses or a group learning setting, you’ll start to see employees become more innovative. Likewise, managers are crucial to enabling this innovation. Research cited by an HBR article shows that “Teams are more innovative when managers expect and approve of innovation.”
Workplace learning initiatives give way to new opportunities and promotions. When employees feel they have a chance at internal mobility, they will be more willing to stay with your company. This is backed up by a study by LinkedIn showing that a whopping 94% of workers would stay at a job longer if they invested in their learning.
Attract top talent
Employees are looking for development opportunities and will be attracted to employers who encourage continuous learning. According to a Harris Poll, 34% of employees leave their jobs looking for new learning experiences. If your organization can offer learning and development opportunities, you’ll attract top talent.
How to encourage employee learning
Encouraging employee learning has a significant number of advantages, and while it doesn’t happen overnight, there are some key steps you can take to build a learning culture. They include:
Get leadership on board as advocates
Learning cultures start at the top. You’ll need to seek some advocates from your leadership team. These managers and executives can encourage employees and talk to them about the importance of learning. They should be humble individuals who are dedicated to learning themselves. They should be able to share their stories and tell others about how they’re still a work in progress. It can give employees the courage to discuss where they are still growing.
Managers should also designate some time to learn with their teams. It can enhance skills and team unity.
Encourage your employees to get involved in learning opportunities by offering stipends. This can open up access to paid courses for your employees and level the playing field.
It can also help to publicly acknowledge employees for their learning efforts. Managers should recognize their team members for their learning too.
Consider hosting learning events to allow employees to teach others a skill they have or something they’ve learned on their own. This will enable employees to be experts.
Allow learning to happen in the flow of work
Encouraging employees to have a growth mindset towards all their activities can also cultivate a learning culture at your organization. Invite them to see their interactions with customers or negotiations with vendors as an opportunity to grow. Employees should notice tactics or techniques employed that have been successful. They can share these experiences through a swipe file of learnings made each day.
Focus on creating a culture of constructive feedback. Ensure that employees feel comfortable presenting a work-in-progress or an idea that isn’t fully fleshed out. Doing this allows team members to offer input in the early stages, which can help create a more solid result.
Team members should be encouraged to seek out information and learning opportunities, such as subscribing to diverse and high-quality newsletters. Set a dedicated time for them to share what they are reading and learning with colleagues.
Give every employee the opportunity to have a mentor
Mentorships are critical for reinforcing employee learning. There are several benefits of ensuring your employees have mentors, including:
- Professional development
- Expand employees networks
- Practice goal-setting and attaining
- Mentorships offer knowledge-sharing experience
Having a mentor to guide and challenge employees can be a significant advantage to developing a learning culture at your organization.
Much of our learning and development initiatives encourage employees to take courses to grow their skills, but some of the most important skills are learned from mentors. Skills like leadership, conflict resolution, staying cool in stressful situations—there are many books about these topics, but a mentor who role models these positive traits is invaluable.
For this reason and more, L&D programs need mentorship.
Develop peer-to-peer learning programs
Learning doesn’t just happen in formal environments. Your employees can learn from each other as well. This is called peer-to-peer learning and it has a key part of creating a learning environment in your workplace.
Encourage peer-to-peer learning for knowledge-sharing and allow them to coach one another in areas where they are experts.
One example may be if one of your employees has higher technical capability than peers. They can use this information to help train co-workers, so everyone increases their skill levels. This can build trust between team members, improve collaboration, and increase productivity.
Learning in the workplace is collaborative
To accelearete learning in your workplace, you’ll need to encourage employee collaboration. In other words, ask them to take some responsibility for their learning and offer recognition for their efforts.
However, solitary learning and online courses can only go so far. To solidify learning it needs to be shared. If your organization wants to increase employee performance, you need to focus on getting employees to learn together, in group learning settings, and from each other, as in peer-to-peer opportunities.
One of the most effective ways to encourage learning in your workplace is through high-quality mentorship programs. And these programs can be quick and straightforward to set up. Together’s mentoring software enables you to build, launch, and measure employee mentoring programs easily.