10 Ways to Develop a Culture for Learning in the Workplace
Have you ever worked somewhere that didn’t invest in their staff and their development? Rubbish isn’t it? Where you and your colleagues felt overstretched, undervalued and your skills weren’t being developed. Where your potential remained untapped and you knew that you could do so much more, not simply for yourself, but to the benefit of the organisation you worked in. It didn’t exactly inspire and motivate, did it?
Here are 10 ways you can help develop a culture for learning within your organisation, increase employee engagement and spark a catalyst for change that drives increased motivation and productivity.
1. Set objectives for your staff
Align these to company values, personal development plans and KPI’s to help staff feel like they are working towards a goal and developing themselves in doing so. You need to show them the bigger picture and the part they have to play in that. All too often staff can feel aimless with no clear objectives or any idea of what ‘good’ looks like.
2. Provide regular appraisals and feedback (both formally and informally)
Ensure there are both formal appraisals and informal mechanisms for staff to receive feedback from managers and peers. Don’t leave it until the annual appraisal to have your only conversation with team members. Most importantly, ensure they focus on the positives. Millennials are a group that respond well to consistent reinforcement and are more likely to stay with companies longer when they see potential growth opportunities (Huffington Post).
3. Enable on-going conversations and one-to-ones
Create a culture where your staff feel that managers are accessible and that they can initiate a coffee break catch-up to discuss their personal and career development. Purple Cubed offers some insights into scrapping the annual appraisal in favour of ongoing dialogue around performance and exchanging feedback that is employee-driven.
4. Provide access to (relevant and engaging) learning and development opportunities
Practice what you preach and ensure that staff have access to learning content that’s more than just their annual Fire Safety Training (and make this more engaging if you want to stop seeing extinguishers propping open fire doors in your workplace). These could help identify clear pathways for progression or promotion, provide leadership and management development programs or enable staff to develop additional skills that could bring added value to their role. And please, make sure it really is relevant and engaging.
5. Design learning based on metrics
Do you know what is proven to engage your workforce? Do you have metrics on what time of day they log on to access digital learning, what content they watch or refer back to? Lori Niles-Hofman refers to this as Digital Body Language and outlines how this data can be used to design better learning experiences.
6. Market your learning and development opportunities
If you build it, they will come. Then again, maybe they won’t. But if you don’t let them know it exists, they never will. Ensure you have an internal communication and marketing strategy in place to market what’s available to engage your staff, and then market with as much enthusiasm as you would to a consumer, business or member. Your staff are your most valuable asset and they deserve to benefit from an internal strategy that’s just as comprehensive as an external one. Use Learning at Work Week (a national campaign) to drive a branded learning campaign in your workplace to promote a learning culture, stimulate curiosity and engage employees in learning. Use it to rebrand your learning and development, reinforce your organisation’s commitment to staff development and celebrate the learning that takes place all year round.
7. Enable the sharing of best practice
There are already brilliant people that are doing great things in your organisation so don’t ignore them. Shine a spotlight on them and let them be champions for what ‘good’ looks like in your organisation. Do this by using social learning and collaboration mechanisms that allow the sharing of user-generated content such as videos, images and blogs. Imagine a lessons-learned blog where team members can post updates to their colleagues instantly without waiting for the next team meeting, or a video on how to deal with a particular customer service scenario or perhaps a chef sharing a video of how to cook a particular recipe to perfection.
8. Listen to your staff
Do you really know how your staff feel about your organisational culture? Organise a staff survey to dig out what people really think, make it anonymous to encourage honesty, publicise the results and implement a plan to take action on the resulting headlines. Whatever you do, don’t do a staff survey and then do nothing with the findings. By 2020 Millennials and Gen Z will make up nearly 60% of the workforce, and new opportunities, workplace recognition, good communication and work-life balance are more important to them than money, with one of the top reasons for quitting a job a ‘lack of opportunity to advance’ (Parkcom).
9. Reward and recognise achievement
Get creative with the way you reward achievement, using game mechanics within digital learning or your learning platform to incentivise learners, annual competitions, away days to get teams together to share and learn, and prizes and award ceremonies to recognise outstanding individual and team contributions. Make a noise about achievements, it’s amazing what even a simple ‘thank you’ can achieve, and equally amazing how rarely it’s used in some organisations (and then they wonder why they have a staff retention problem).
10. Make a culture for learning part of your organisation’s DNA by incorporating it into your organisation’s core values
Make sure a sense of passion for learning, growth and development is one of your organisation’s core values and encourage all staff to live and breathe them. Make them visible everywhere, on your office walls, your intranet and your website. Incorporate them into objectives and KPIs. Attract new talent who identify with your values and who will thrive in this culture. A drive for nurturing learning and development will develop a culture for learning worth shouting about.
Learn Fox can help you introduce solutions to support digital and blended learning in the workplace, letting you and your teams get on with what you do best. As part of Learning at Work Week we’re offering a free consultation to review your current learning climate, and provide you with a report that identifies the top projects you should be planning and the key actions to help you get started.