Learning culture: A modern approach

Competitive advantage was, until recently, measured in terms of economies of scale, market share, brand recognition, and so on.

Written by Emerald Works
Published 11 October 2016
Learning culture: A modern approach
But, in today's "post-industrial" age, having a modern learning culture which invests in employees has become crucial in gaining a competitive edge.

Learners are taking control

Traditionally, staff development has been the sole responsibility of the L&D department. However, times are a-changing, with learners increasingly taking control of their own development. Expectations are changing, too. Learners are more eager to learn. At the same time, our lives have become increasingly time poor,  resulting in heightened demand for faster and more flexible ways of learning. To stay successful, L&D departments need to change their approach and re-focus on the independent requirements of each learner. As Ann Schulte, Global Leader of Learning and Leadership Development at Procter & Gamble, says, "You're not giving up control. You're sharing control with the learner."

Moving beyond traditional L&D

According to research from insight and technology company CEB, 79 percent of learners use non-L&D sources. Recent figures from Bersin by Deloitte support this trend. They show that the most successful learning organizations now deliver:
  • 20 percent less training via ILT, vILT and e-learning.
  • 13 percent more learning via collaboration and coaching.
  • 30 percent more learning via on-the-job experiences.
  • 90 percent more learning via on-demand resources.

These results suggest that L&D professionals who have traditionally focused on meeting the needs of the organization over its employees - need to shift their mindset. These days, people aren't limited to the resources provided by their L&D department. So connecting individuals' learning needs to their organizations' priorities now requires more than just building or buying content. It requires a culture that makes the entire learning experience easier, more useful, and more rewarding.

Building a modern "Learning Culture"

Bersin by Deloitte suggests that key components of such a culture include building trust, encouraging reflection, enabling knowledge-sharing, and empowering employees. Research from the ATD published earlier this year reveals that only 31 percent of organizations have a "culture of learning." And yet, according to CEB, a corporate learning culture can lead to better business results for the organization as a whole, with people in this type of working environment performing 12 percent better than in those that do not have access to the same resources. Our own research has shown that people are spending significantly more time using resources that are self-directed rather than prescribed. A recent study by learning platform provider Degreed also reflected the move away from prescribed L&D models. Findings from the study found that, when they are looking for guidance on appropriate learning materials:
  • 69 percent of people ask their boss or a mentor.
  • 55 percent ask their workplace peers.
  • 47 percent search the internet.
  • But only 21 percent ask their L&D or HR department.

The development of an effective learning culture is hugely driven by the mindset behind it. So, if you want to build a culture of continuous learning, take advantage of the choice available. Use formal and informal learning, job training and career development, L&D and self-service. Traditional approaches aren't obsolete - they're just not enough any more.

About the author

Emerald Works

Emerald Works

At Emerald Works, we’re committed to helping individuals and organizations around the world realize their full potential by using evidence-led learning solutions that work.

We work together to build learning cultures that empower people to bring about real change for real impact.

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