Fostering a learning culture: 3 simple ideas to support continued learning. - Social Good Connect

Fostering a learning culture: 3 simple ideas to support continued learning.

26 May 2021

Even before ‘business as usual’ was turned on its head by a global pandemic, the way we work together has been changing at an increasingly rapid pace over the last decade.

According to a study by Deloitte, the ‘half-life’ of a skill has decreased from 10-15 years, to just 5 years. That means that anything you learned more than five years ago, is likely to no-longer be relevant, or at the very least, is in need of an update.

On top of that, another study showed that 80% of employees agreed learning new skills would make them more engaged in their work, yet only 56% were actually learning new skills.

Fostering a learning culture in the workplace is not only integral to a company’s ability to adapt and evolve, it’s also something that employees are looking for!

What do we mean by a learning culture?

When we talk about fostering a culture of learning, what we really mean is creating an environment where employees feel empowered to make mistakes, try new things, and pursue learning opportunities often.

Organisations with a great learning culture give their employees time, resources, and encouragement to undertake professional (or personal) development activities. Speaking on our ‘Mind Your P’s’ podcast recently, business leader Gavin Mitchell shared their team’s approach:

‘We actively encourage all our team members to follow additional education. We will pay for some of that as well. We’ve got a number of people who’ve done MBAs and going through a variety of other coaching and mentoring schemes. As we learn and grow, that brings more opportunity for everyone.’

Why is a learning culture important?

As we mentioned previously, placing a high importance on learning within an organisation not only encourages employees to be more resilient and adaptable in an evolving workplace, it can also improve employee engagement rates, and aid with recruitment and retention of staff.

In fact, in an analysis conducted on the results of 3 million employee surveys, ‘learning and development opportunities’ were the second most significant factor in determining positive engagement rates.

And it’s not only the employees who benefit, Deloitte found that ‘companies with strong learning cultures were a staggering 92% more likely to be innovators, developing novel products and processes, as well as becoming 17% more profitable than competitors.’

80% of employees agree that learning new skills would make them more engaged in their work, but only 56% are actively learning new skills.

How do you promote a learning culture?

As we previously mentioned, there is still a huge disparity between employees’ desire to learn and the support they are receiving from their employers to facilitate learning.

Creating a true learning culture goes beyond promoting occasional training days or even supporting team members to achieve additional certifications (although this is still an important part of it). Here are some of our top suggestions for building a culture of learning into your everyday.

1. Accessibility

Opportunities for growth need to be as accessible to team members as possible. This does not only mean allocating individual budget for development activities and encouraging employees to use it, but also empowering your team to feel comfortable trying new things and making mistakes.

It’s not easy to prioritise learning opportunities when facing deadlines and pressing day-to-day tasks, on average, employees spend only around 24 minutes each week on learning and development activities. However, building regular learning into your team’s work week is only going to strengthen your business’s ability to achieve longer-term business goals, and create a more innovative and adapting workforce.

2. Employee volunteering

There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution to building a culture of learning, so why not get creative with it? Why not maximise on the impact of your team’s time and support your community and your team’s learning through skills-based volunteering. Employee volunteering is a great way to develop new skills or build on existing ones while supporting important causes.

Short, regular volunteering actions such as social media support, telephone befriending, or non-exec trustee roles are a great way for employees to apply their skills in new and unusual ways or even receive additional training in an area of interest for them.

When undertaking employee volunteering for this purpose, it’s important for senior management to lead by example and get stuck in themselves. They should also give the team the freedom to choose the opportunity they are going to support as not everyone will be motivated by the same cause or have the same learning goals.

If you want some inspiration on the kinds of roles a skilled-volunteer could get involved with, read more here!

3. Hire for values not for experience

Speaking in an episode of ‘Mind Your P’s’, Ooni co-founder Darina Garland advised: ‘the only hiring mistakes, I believe we make are when we haven’t used our values as a key part of that’.

Skills can be taught, but if someone does not believe in the culture and values of your company, then they are not the right fit. If you are looking to build a culture of continuous learning, then make a point of hiring curious-minded people and giving them opportunities to learn.

Want to get involved?

If you want to learn more about how employee volunteering can form an important part of your company’s learning culture, and how we can help you get started quickly and easily, then please get in touch with us to find out more!

Or join our community here.

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