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10 Steps to Create a Culture of Corporate Learning and Why You’d Want to Take Them

Imagine a staff meeting that employees eagerly attend because they know the meeting will generate stimulating discussions. People will exchange ideas, support each other and build on each other’s suggestions. Everyone feels good when they come out of that staff meeting! Hard to imagine? Aw, c’mon. Dream a little . . .

Imagine working with a team of people eager to develop themselves professionally, who not only want to build their own expertise but who encourage others to learn and advance. Imagine a workplace where people enjoy being surrounded by others engaged, like them, in doing and being their best, where staff members sometimes get so excited about what they are doing that they use a lunch hour or an evening at home to read up on a topic related to their work.

It could happen. It does happen in some corporations and organizations. Maybe not yours, not yet, but you can change that. You can create a culture of corporate learning, where people get excited about their work and the opportunities it provides for learning and for collegial exchange and creativity. Here are 10 steps you can take to make what you imagine a reality.

How to Create a Culture of Corporate Learning – 10 Steps:

1. Lead by example.

2. Reward idea generation, even if an idea doesn’t fly or doesn’t work. Bringing an idea to the table creates a sense of vulnerability. How will people react to it? What if the idea doesn’t work? Be sure that blame, punishment, ridicule and exaltation of the “experts” doesn’t creep into group scenarios in the office. If lack of information makes an idea less effective, instead of rejecting the idea, seize that information gap as an educational opportunity.

3. Establish a respectful environment. Office politics, manipulation and bullying can easily undermine a learning culture. Uncover that in the organization, and get rid of it. Ensure that all employees treat each other with respect, and staff carry on debates and other interactions with respect.

4. Establish a minimum ongoing education requirement as part of the job. Because people learn differently, provide a variety of ways employees can complete this requirement.

5. Look beyond skills training.

6. Shape (or select) learning options that respond to the characteristics of adult learners. Here are some examples of adult learning traits:

  • being self-directed
  • practical and results-oriented
  • less open-minded or too resistant to change
  • learn more slowly, yet more integrative knowledge
  • use personal experience as a resource
  • being more motivated
  • multi-level responsibilities mean education is not their first priority
  • high expectations

7. Provide a learning coach to help staff plan their own learning objectives and stay on target to reach them.

8. Include computer assisted learning among the options you offer. There are many excellent opportunities, free or for a fee, with and without degrees, certificates or recognition of accomplishment. Several large-scale studies indicate that online learning is at least as effective as many real-time classes.

9. Provide an environment where people can share, on a regular basis, what they learn and reflect on how it improves their work.

10. Celebrate large and small learning successes. Let these celebrations become part of the company culture. You don’t need to make these moments a big deal — just a few seconds of recognition, something fun, happy and communal.

Learning and professional growth opportunities enhance employee engagement. Greater employee engagement directly impacts your bottom line. Companies with enhanced employee engagement opportunities have:

  • 37% less absenteeism
  • 25% less turnover in high-turnover organizations
  • 65% less turnover in low-turnover organizations
  • 28% less shrinkage (theft)
  • 48% less safety incidents
  • 41% less patient safety incidents
  • 41% less quality incidents (defects)
  • 10% higher customer metrics
  • 21% more productivity
  • 22% more profitability (Gallup in Moreland, 2013)

In some communities, there is an idea of “learning for the sake of learning.” While most adults prefer practical and results-oriented learning, some also just love to learn, and the opportunity to do that makes their work exciting.

As you build a culture of learning where people energetically exchange ideas and celebrate learning successes, enthusiasm for learning for the sake of learning can spread throughout the organization, well beyond those few who are naturally inclined in that direction. Staff meetings will be more energetic and stimulating, and that energy will strengthen your corporation.