Most HR lead­ers agree that build­ing a strong learn­ing cul­ture is the foun­da­tion for achiev­ing pos­i­tive busi­ness out­comes and effec­tive­ly con­fronting the future of work. In addi­tion, a younger gen­er­a­tion of work­ers is demand­ing more of employ­ers, and they expect career devel­op­ment and con­tin­u­ous learn­ing to be the norm. As a result, learn­ing cul­ture influ­ences employ­ee engage­ment and expe­ri­ence, too.

There­fore, no one is sur­prised that cre­at­ing a learn­ing cul­ture is a top pri­or­i­ty for CHROs and their teams. Recent­ly, learn­ing experts have shared their best advice on devel­op­ing such a cul­ture with HR Exchange Network:

Get Leadership Buy-In

At the HR Exchange Net­work Cor­po­rate Learn­ing Spring online event, Rashim Mogha, Skill­soft Gen­er­al Man­ag­er, Lead­er­ship & Busi­ness Port­fo­lio, talked about how to effec­tive­ly train peo­ple to be bet­ter lead­ers. One of the moti­va­tions for focus­ing on this kind of edu­ca­tion is to ensure lead­ers mod­el the kind of behav­ior that rever­ber­ates in the orga­ni­za­tion and encour­ages oth­ers to spend time on learning.

In fact, at the Cor­po­rate Learn­ing Spring event, Mogha sug­gest­ed hav­ing lead­ers be the first among those using the organization’s learn­ing pro­grams. She pre­sent­ed the idea of launch­ing a new learn­ing pro­gram by offer­ing it to the lead­er­ship bench, for example.

“Even­tu­al­ly, you have to scale it,” she added. “That’s how you build a cul­ture of con­tin­u­ous learn­ing, but you have to start small.”

Make the Case

Get­ting lead­er­ship to under­stand the ben­e­fits of edu­ca­tion is a great first step. HR lead­ers, how­ev­er, must also help them under­stand the impact of pro­vid­ing learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties. After all, any time learn­ing pro­fes­sion­als can demon­strate a link between tal­ent receiv­ing upskilling or reskilling and then going out and mak­ing more mon­ey for the com­pa­ny, edu­ca­tion is winning.

“In order to pro­mote a healthy, busi­ness-focused cul­ture of life­long learn­ing, per­for­mance and inno­va­tion, an orga­ni­za­tion needs to trans­par­ent­ly and clear­ly under­stand, rec­og­nize and pro­mote the impor­tance of learn­ing and inno­va­tion in regard to busi­ness per­for­mance and suc­cess,” says Markus Bern­hardt, Chief Evan­ge­list at OBRIZUM and learn­ing expert, who is active on LinkedIn. “This link is key. Learn­ing and pro­fes­sion­al devel­op­ment needs to be viewed as busi­ness crit­i­cal, and learn­ing needs to move from being a ‘cost cen­ter’ to being a ‘valu­able busi­ness per­for­mance investment.’”

Provide Learning Opportunities

Get­ting lead­ers to under­stand the impor­tance of learn­ing and devel­op­ment is not enough. They also have to be will­ing to allo­cate resources to L&D. Sonia Malik, Glob­al Pro­gram Lead, Edu­ca­tion and Work­force Devel­op­ment at IBM, says that beyond mod­el­ing the growth mind­set and life­long learn­ing behav­iors, lead­ers must “pro­vide an infra­struc­ture and the abil­i­ty to become a life­long learner.”

“You can’t say we want you to learn stuff and not pro­vide access to infra­struc­ture, con­tent, or time to learn,” she says.

Focus on Curriculum

Large com­pa­nies are cre­at­ing their own pro­grams that run like small uni­ver­si­ties. The Dis­ney Insti­tute and AT&T Uni­ver­si­ty come to mind. What is impor­tant is to deter­mine the organization’s skills gap and try to fill those holes. Being inten­tion­al and strate­gic helps ele­vate the cul­ture of learn­ing. It could also fac­tor into moti­vat­ing peo­ple because they may expe­ri­ence suc­cess of their own, too. In addi­tion, it could pre­vent them from becom­ing redundant.

“Our com­pa­ny has had to rein­vent itself time and time again across 140-plus years of exis­tence,” says Robert Sto­janows­ki, Direc­tor of Learn­ing and Inno­va­tion Labs at AT&T. “Con­tin­u­ous learn­ing and reskilling is embed­ded in the cul­ture because it has to be. Mov­ing from tra­di­tion­al phone ser­vice to the inter­net to mobil­i­ty ser­vices, cyber­se­cu­ri­ty, or con­sult­ing requires a vast set of skills.”

Convince the Employees

Cer­tain­ly, employ­ees are show­ing an inter­est in career devel­op­ment and learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties more than ever before. How­ev­er, some might not feel as moti­vat­ed as oth­ers. Or they may feel chal­lenged by hav­ing to divide their time between their work tasks and learning.

As a result, per­son­al­ized edu­ca­tion is becom­ing more pop­u­lar. Giv­ing peo­ple the chance to grow in a way that sup­ports their own per­son­al goals as well as those of the orga­ni­za­tion can improve job sat­is­fac­tion and performance.

“Tying that learn­ing curve with that earn­ing curve and per­son­al­iz­ing the learn­ing jour­ney for indi­vid­u­als are keys to estab­lish­ing that learn­ing cul­ture,” says Malik.

Learning while Working

Among cor­po­rate edu­ca­tors, a phi­los­o­phy about learn­ing while work­ing is emerg­ing. Basi­cal­ly, the sug­ges­tion is to build learn­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties into people’s day-to-day jobs. Some of this learn­ing hap­pens organ­i­cal­ly. After all, employ­ees might need to learn a par­tic­u­lar pro­gram to com­plete assign­ments or tasks. There may be oppor­tu­ni­ties to shad­ow a men­tor or leader. In oth­er cas­es, learn­ing lead­ers might have to allow for the allot­ment of time nec­es­sary to com­plete a les­son, for exam­ple, and imme­di­ate­ly try to apply it on the job.

Ulti­mate­ly, life­long learn­ing is going to sep­a­rate the win­ners from the losers in the work­force and among orga­ni­za­tions. The future of work has arrived in many ways, and the skills gap is catch­ing up to every­one. There­fore, devel­op­ing a learn­ing cul­ture is not just a nice thing to do for employ­ees. It’s a busi­ness necessity.

By Francesca Di Meglio

Orig­i­nal­ly post­ed on HR Exchange Network