Learning Culture: Getting People in Organisations to Care About Learning

A Learning Culture in Organisations

Let’s assume that organisations are weary of having learning and training mandated to them. Let’s assume that the mere thought of being asked to take time away attend or complete learning (virtually or otherwise) just makes us sigh. It makes us look towards a full inbox and a fuller set of expectations from the same organisation that is now trying to squeeze more from us.

It’s pretty hard to get excited and to care about learning and training. Sure, we can look at some of the lay psychology behind this. Wherefrom birth we are expected to learn, we get trained to do things and then the weight of the expectations can add to the general crush of growing up. Then we are adults and we get jobs. Where we are again expected to learn and to be trained. This unrelenting expectation can be exhausting for us.

So How Do We Get People to Care About Learning and Training?

First, let’s think about why it’s even important to get people in an organisation to care about learning and training. There is a direct correlation between employees who are well trained, competent and capable and the rate of attrition. Edgepoint Learning identified 20% of workers in the US leave their job within 45 days of hire (more than double that in retail). The cost of that turnover is between 16 and 20% of that employee’s salary.

Well trained employees who are exposed to and benefit from high-quality employee training programmes are more engaged. Engaged employees are more enabled to perform and to be advocates for learning and for the organisations they work for.

Easier said than done when we consider some of the key elements that blunt the enthusiasm and just general care about learning in an organisation. One that comes up quite often is, I don’t have time to do this. I’ve got so much on right now! Another is, the learning programme is inflexible and doesn’t work for me. Understanding what people are saying lends interesting insights into their perception on learning and training in their organisations.

People often list time as a factor as to why they aren’t invested in learning. To me, this is them saying that they and the organisation perhaps do not value learning and training the same as doing the job. That the perception is, learning and training are an add-on. An option or something that competes with their role as opposed to being part of their role.

Male and female engaged in the work they're doing

What Would Happen if Employers Started Listing Learning Culture and Training as Part of Job Requirements?

People can sometimes feel like the learning programmes they have to complete are inflexible. Also, perhaps not suited for them. This can happen when everyone is made to do the same learning or training in the same method. Why should we when we are all different and we want to learn the way we desire?

What Would Happen if Employees Were Transparent in How They Want to Learn, and Employees Listened and Provided a Range of Ways for the Employee to Learn?

Perhaps it comes down to, what’s in it for me? And that’s alright – there is nothing wrong with employees asking that question when it comes to learning or completing training. I had a conversation with a colleague today and broached this very topic. They are doing their role ‘adequately’ without the necessary training.

Tired bored young businessman working with computer in office

No one minds this ‘adequate’ doing of the job and my colleague is ‘okay’ with it. I asked the question as to why they didn’t care about learning or being trained to be better than okay or adequate. They said that the impression they got from their leader was that what they were doing was good enough with the limited training.

So, the employee meets expectations of the leader by having limited to no training. But this was not enough to meet the standards of ‘best practice’ or what the community expects. The colleague then mused, well I guess if my boss doesn’t mind then I shouldn’t either? But I do, because I want to be better than feeling like I have nowhere to grow.

What Would Happen if Employers Rewarded Learning in Their Organisations?

Here are some of the ways I propose to encourage employees to care about learning/training.

Higher Performance

Employees with higher levels of training and learnings who demonstrate a correlation between their training and their performance can be recognised through promotion and through financial incentives to promote the culture of learning and higher performance.

Happy business people celebrating success

Meeting Their Needs

When organisations understand how to motivate their employees to attend and absorb training and learning, they are able to successfully offer options that can meet most of their needs. Understanding what employees want to learn about and how, make it easy and mobile. Make it worth their while to attend and engage.

Learning Culture as Part of the Expectations

Organisations need to make training and learning part of their culture. Not just say it, but make it part of the expectations of employment. I’ve often found that I get a good feel for how a learning exercise or a training module is likely to land if I attend it myself. Encouraging a growth mindset in everyone builds regular training and learning into the organisation. So often learning and training is seen as something that is mandated or enforced for those who are being managed. Rather than to everyone.

Personalised Training

Training and learning needs to be personalised to each employee. One size doesn’t fit all. We are all at different stages of our understanding of some basics and some more complex understanding. It helps for organisations to understand this and not assume that everyone needs to learn how to open Word, for example. I’ve found that a quick training needs analysis can help to engage people in the organisation. It also shows that there is genuine interest in understanding who needs what. That level of ownership for what we know and what we want to know is so very important in getting people to care about their learning and training.

Time & Space

Time and space to learn should be built into the employee’s time. It’s not something to be forced onto an already full schedule. So many times, I’ve heard colleagues say that they are expected to learn or complete some training in addition to their full day’s work. Or at home on their own time. It can foster real interest in the organisation if there was bespoke time for learning and that it was an expectation of the employee’s role.

Alarm clock on a desk with laptop and pot of pens

Blended Opportunities

Blended learning opportunities where more engaging method of learning and training are offered is a key way to tap into the different personalities and unique diversity of people in an organisation. I’ve started to explore options in gamification, augmented reality and in-person upskill. It matters to the organisation when I can offer my time to facilitate someone’s interest in learning a new skill. And I hope they pay it forward with others.

Care About Your Training

Lastly, if you want people in your organisation to care about learning and training, you have to. Not just ticking a box, but genuinely caring about how they want to learn. Also, what they want to be trained on and be prepared to invest in changing the culture of your organisation. When the people in your organisation care about learning, they are investing in making your business better by committing to being better themselves.

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