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How to Create a Continuous Learning Culture in Your Workplace

6 min read
hr team discussing learning culture at the company

Every business wants to have a great workplace culture that makes people love coming to work and encourages them to stay at the company for longer. A key part of that is instilling a continuous learning culture within your organisation.

Forbes found that over 55% of employees say that career growth is more important than compensation, and 47% are dissatisfied with the learning and development programme in their workplace.

So, if you want to reduce labour turnover, you need to ensure there’s a learning culture in your workplace. Let’s dive into how you can make that happen.


What is a Continuous Learning Culture?

A continuous learning culture means that you have ‘an environment that supports an open mindset, an independent quest for knowledge and embraces shared learning directed towards the missions and goals of an organisation’, according to the Corporate Executive Board (CEB).

It means that businesses need to encourage employees to embed new skills and knowledge within themselves and their teams and give them the tools they need to do this.

Learning and development can take many forms – there are lots of training methods you can try, including:

  • E-learning
  • Social learning
  • Peer-to-peer sessions
  • Mentorships
  • Self-paced learning

How your teams conduct their training will be dictated by the needs of the company.

woman mentoring the new hire to build a strong learning culture

Why is a Learning Culture Important for Your Organisation?

There is a direct correlation between learning culture and business success. Deloitte’s Leading in Learning report shows that firms with a strong learning culture are 46% more likely to be first to market, have 37% higher productivity and are 92% more likely to innovate. If those statistics don’t tell you that you need to look at developing a learning culture in your workplace, we don’t know what will!

Creating a culture of continuous improvement gives you a competitive advantage. Teams that challenge each other, strive for improvement and have a growth mindset will encourage better ideas, giving you the edge over your competition.

With your teams enjoying learning new skills and taking advantage of the programmes you put in place, you’ll have better employee engagement. A great learning environment can help low performers enjoy training more, and they may even start to participate more than they realise. With proper nurturing, some of them may even turn into high-potential employees that are valuable to your company.

One of the biggest things that a learning culture can do is make your company more desirable to work for. When you give your teams learning opportunities, they’ll feel valued and will stay longer. While training often costs money, it’s probably cheaper than hiring new people – it could cost £12,000 to onboard a new team member on the average UK salary.

How to Foster a Learning Culture in Your Company

It’s a big task to create a true learning culture in your business, but it’s certainly achievable. Start with small steps that slowly build the culture of learning within your company, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly it grows.

Focus on strategies that feel interesting to your teams and fit into your culture easily. That way, your people will start to engage and become active participants in training sessions without even realising!

Try these steps to create a learning culture that works for your business – you’ll soon start noticing the benefits.

chief learning officer teaching hr about learning cultures

1. Commit to a learning culture in your company values

If you expect a commitment to learning and development from your people, then you should commit to it too – add it to your company values so new hires as well as your current employees know you take it seriously. Communicate what you expect from your teams and what you will do to make it happen.

It’s important to include the knowledge and skills you expect candidates to develop during their time at your company in job descriptions, so they know what to do from day one.

Once they’re embedded into your team, make sure you regularly check in with them about their career development goals through competency-based performance reviews and informal catch-ups. Giving constructive feedback will help your people, especially high performers, to strive to achieve more and help them reach their personal goals around career progression.

2. Identify skills gaps

One size won’t fit all when it comes to training programmes. To nurture professional development, you need to create a personalised learning and development plan for every individual. Your human resource management team can help you do this.

Identify where your team members need to add to their skill sets during performance reviews and discuss how they can gain these skills. Then, use their feedback to construct your learning programmes.

Doing this with your team members shows your commitment to continuous improvement and will keep people at your company for longer, as they’ll be confident that they’ll get the training they need.

3. Prioritise upskilling managers

Everyone deserves proper learning and development opportunities, but your senior leaders will have a huge impact on ensuring that you establish a culture of learning throughout your organisation.

Ensure that people managers have all the soft and hard skills they need to be good leaders. This will help them empower other employees to maintain a learning mindset that’s sustainable and enjoyable.

Informal, on-the-job training is perfect for leadership development. Mentoring is ideal – pair up junior managers with more senior members of the leadership team so they can see how they do things.

Better training of your leadership teams allows managers to have beneficial career development conversations with their direct reports so they can support and guide their teams effectively. This is crucial to improving employee engagement and retention.

4. Consider setting up a learning management system

You probably have lots of remote workers in your company now – and that doesn’t look like it will change any time soon. So giving your team access to online courses that they can view at any time is vital.

A learning management system can include lots of learning materials for teams to use whenever they like. Microlearning tasks are ideal for teams to dip into when they’re between projects to give them short bursts of training that aren’t overwhelming.

Using an online learning management system is a great way to track your team’s progress. It’s perfect for individuals to see, in a clear way, what they need to do to achieve a pay rise or bonus and how far away they are from getting it.

To increase employee engagement further, you could add gamification into the mix; it’s an easy way to add a fun element to your training. Reward continuous learning by offering prizes for completing certain online modules or starting a leaderboard for a monthly training quiz.


5. Offer social learning opportunities

The best learning cultures in workplaces come from sociable companies that make use of employees learning together. Offer more social training alongside formal learning programmes; a great way to do this is to set up lunch and learns.

The idea is simple: provide lunch for your team and appoint someone internally or externally to present a topic they want to teach others about.

Studies show that peer-to-peer learning, or ‘skills swaps’, increase learners’ confidence in those new skills, so make sure that everyone is given the opportunity to share knowledge with their colleagues.

And don’t forget to offer social learning sessions as webinars too, so remote workers aren’t left out.

6. Blend on-site and remote learning options

woman doing training programs at work

The importance of allowing hybrid work can’t be understated. 83% of people say that a hybrid work model, where they split their time between home and the office, is optimal. But it’s not always so easy for some organisations to offer this desirable perk.

If you haven’t figured out a way to add hybrid working to your culture yet, why not use it for training? Allow your teams to complete research or online learning at home when it suits them and you can cope with them being out of the office.

The perfect blend of training to help create a strong learning culture could look like offering e-learning through your management system that teams can complete at home alongside lunch and learns and off-site training courses.

7. Review and experiment with your learning programmes

Unfortunately, building a fantastic learning culture through training and development programmes doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll need to test out new methods and gather feedback from your teams to get an impression of whether they were successful.

For example, try on- and off-camera webinars to see which get the most engagement. While some teams might use being off-camera as an excuse to get through their mounting inbox and not pay attention, it might help others feel more comfortable with the learning resources and they may end up participating more.

You might also need to experiment with the blend of social and individual training opportunities you offer. Some employees will respond better to a larger proportion of peer-led learning, while others might need time on their own to digest new knowledge and figure out how to put it into practice to drive the business forward.

There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes to your learning programmes. Figure out the right blend of training methods for your organisation, and bear in mind that it might vary from department to department.

Building a learning culture should be a top focus in your business strategy. By developing training programmes that excite and engage your teams, you’ll soon start to create a learning culture that will help you retain top talent, solve problems within your company and create new business leaders.


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