12 August 2016

5 ways to evolve your organisation's learning culture

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If you don’t work in a highly regulated industry, chances are, learning tools would not be utilised much in your organisation.

While the use of training to ensure compliance is absolutely paramount in some industries, any industry can benefit from allowing the viral uptake of a good learning culture in the workplace.

First, there are numerous benefits of a learning culture that lead to organisational success.

Increased engagement from employees. Employees who learn actively are more likely to be engaged in the work they do, as they are constantly growing and improving. Professional development should never be underestimated as a tool for retention. Professional development goals are easy to set, track and achieve when coupled with a good learning culture.

Upskilled workforce. Learning has a direct ROI: it upskills employees to make them more efficient when completing their day-to-day tasks or longer term goals. An employee who learns a better way to manage their emails could save an hour a day—imagine the huge cost savings and productivity gains this could bring on an organisational scale.

Education opens the mind. At its core, education exposes an employee to new perspectives to improve lateral thinking and problem solving in every aspect of their work and personal life. Developing a workforce of learning workers future-proofs your business and puts you in a better position to take on anything unexpected that may threaten your success.

Innovation through learning. In an ever changing world, companies that don’t evolve and change the way they do things to anticipate or meet new market demands inevitably get left behind. Organisations must continually evolve to remain competitive and this starts with the constant education of their personnel in the latest and greatest processes.

That’s just a handful of reasons why a strong learning culture is vital to the success of your organisation. At Velpic, there are at least five ways we build, nurture and maintain a learning culture for our success.

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#1 Start at the top

Fostering a good learning culture needs to start from the top. Firstly, ensure that education and self improvement are part of your core business values. Secondly, the executive level needs to lead by example to promote the culture. No one is too important, or too busy, for learning and improvement.

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#2 Rethink onboarding

Beyond using onboarding as work-readiness training for new employees, provide them with a choice of self-learning resources as well. For example, at Velpic, new hires who are not part of the development team are given the option to learn the basics of software engineering. This not only piques their interest, but gives them a better understanding about how we build the Velpic platform!

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#3 Promote knowledge sharing

Although the culture of learning should always start at the top, the content itself does not always need to be formal or forced down from management. Knowledge sharing is a great way to build rapport and discover shared interests as well, which promotes better collaboration. Knowledge shared horizontally rather than hierarchically can be valuable. For example, how to make a cup of coffee more efficiently, where to get the best lunches for under $10 near the office, and what quick exercises you could do at your desk to revive your brain when it suffers from three-thirtyitis.

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#4 Make learning accessible

Traditionally, workplace learning happens in a classroom or at a desktop computer. If learning content is made accessible (and engaging) on mobile devices, it opens up the opportunity to enjoy learn in bite-sized sessions or make good use of waiting time or downtime. In another sense of ‘accessible’, content made available to the visually or hearing impaired would also ensure a strong and inclusive learning culture in your organisation.

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#5 Encourage learning with rewards

Rewarding personal development through compensation is nothing new. I’ve spoken to a few developers who worked for companies where their salary had an almost direct correlation to the number of certifications they had. However, this isn’t the only reward. As salary talk is a sensitive subject, informal incentives are a great way to reward learning achievement and promote healthy competitiveness. For example, a dinner or movie voucher or even the chance to choose the office mascot for the week are inexpensive rewards that can build upon a great learning culture in your organisation.

What could you do to develop a learning culture where you work?