In our fast growing and challenging economy, the agility of an organization is not just measured by its business results. Agility is more than ever measured by the ability of the organization to also manage the development and the reskilling of its workforce in order to cope with a competitive talent market and a shortage of resources in fast changing jobs.
The importance of the learning culture in an organization
It is proven that the learning and development activity has a direct impact on the corporate sustainability responsibility (CSR) of a company and needs to be part of its CSR strategy. As Brigg Patten mentionned in his article on the impact of learning and development on social responsibility: “In order to tap into the social asset of employees taking part and parcel in social responsibility, the workforce needs to pursue personal/corporate learning and development.”
Looking more deeply at the criteria of evaluation of the sustainability of a company, it is mentionned in most of the sustainability audits that the company needs to show the impact of its learning and development actions, especially in how it impacted the knowledge retention and internal transfer, and how it developed its employees for their new role.
In that case, having a official learning policy as well as a clear learning culture is important to promote the actions taken to develop the workforce of the company.
Last but not least, as we already shared in a previous post regarding the criterias of a best place to work, promoting learning and development opportunities for the employees is one of the key criterias of a great place to work and clearly allow to attract, retain and develop the employees as well as the key talents of the organization. In that case, the learning culture is a very strategic asset for the organization.
The key questions to assess your learning culture
So, if the learning culture is that strategic, the interesting topic is how to evaluate the learning culture of your organization. Answering these questions will tell you a lot about the investment done by your organization in learning and development and how mature your organization is in its learning culture.
Does your organization have a clear learning policy ?
If you take the example of Google, the company clearly communicate on some of its learning program and goes even further by sharing this learning with others through its ReWork website, mentionning what the learning policy is in Google such as: “Googlers tell us they turn to each other most for advice, information, and help. So we intentionally create opportunities for Googlers to learn from one another and build their networks.” And Google also share guide on creating some specific programs such as “employee to employee learning programs”.
As the learning policy typically present the purpose of the learning and development programs of the company, as well as its scope and its learning process, it is a great source of information to understand your company’s learning culture.
Does your organization REALLY allow time for your employees to learn ?
This is another question to assess your organization’s learning culture. It is one thing to promote learning and it is another to accept the time that it can take for an employee to learn. A company with a strong learning culture is able to manage both and usually explain clearly what is considered to be learning on the working hours and outside of it.
Explaining the time you have to learn is a good proof of a company with an open and structured learning culture.
Is the learning culture based on a prescription mode or a self-development mode ?
Another enriching question to assess your organization’s learning culture is the fact that learning is accessible for all or not.
Some companies have learning platforms that are open to all employees, such as off the shelves trainings catalogs. You basically can pick-up what you need in addition of the compulsory trainings.
While this can be seen as a way to delegate the learning responsibility to the employee, it is actually a good way to promote learning accessibility. We can consider this approach to be a self-development model.
Are the learning opportunities connected with the performance and career discussions ?
It is one thing to have learning opportunities and it is another to have opportunities that are connected with your career and development discussion.
An organization that has a solid learning culture makes sure that there is a connection between what you can learn and how you can apply it throughout your career, in a way that the learning will be useful for your development.
It can be done through your career and development discussion, and documented in your HR system if any.
And once you have finished your training program, you must have a follow-up session to plan for the next steps, which is also the proof of a good HR development process.
To quote Josh Bersin: “Regardless of your efforts to build great content and hire the best instructors, the culture of learning always prevails.”
Allowing real time to learn, having a strong learning policy, providing self-development opportunities and aligning the learning programs with the request from the career and development discussion are the proof of a positive learning culture where the employee is put at the center of the learning strategy which is the basis to create a culture of learning within your organization.
So, back to our title…the learning culture can tell a lot about the organization you work in. It tells a lot about the level of trust that is given to the employee. It also tells a lot about the confidence that the company has in the development and the ability to perform of its employees.
Now to take benefit from this article, you can take some minutes to think about these questions…you will learn about the learning culture of the organization you work for and feel free to share some of your thoughts in the comment section.