Creating a culture of continuous learning should be viewed as a business best-practice. Regardless of industry, size, or what you do, every company can benefit from a continuous learning culture. It’s not easy to build a culture that permeates an entire organization. And yes, there’s a lot of buzz in corporate circles if the effort is worth it. We’re here to say it is.
But what does it mean to create a continuous learning culture? What are the benefits? And how do you build it? Will my innovative online training tools create a learning culture for me?
No worries–we’ve got you covered. At RTG Solutions Group, we are firm believers in continuous learning. That’s why we’re answering all of your questions about continuous learning culture.
In this article, we’re going to cover the following questions:
- What is continuous learning?
- What is a continuous learning culture?
- Is there evidence that continuous learning culture works?
- Why is it important to create a culture of continuous learning?
- How does continuous learning benefit businesses and employees?
- How do you create a culture of continuous learning?
To get a glimpse of the power of continuous learning, keep reading!
What is continuous learning and continuous learning culture?
Continuous learning is, basically, what it sounds like. It’s a state of on-going learning and self-improvement. In the context of business, continuous learning is when staff of all levels constantly build on skills and talents. For this to happen, employers must enact systems, technology, and–most importantly–a culture conducive to learning.
A continuous learning culture actively encourages development and critical thinking. What does this look like in real terms? Resources for self-improvement are plentiful and readily available. Remote training might be available for flexible, easy access to learning. There are clear incentives to learning and many opportunities for advancement. In fact, in the strongest learning cultures, training itself is touted as a benefit!
In addition, business processes are well-documented and visible. Upper-level management receives leadership development regularly. Employees understand how their role ties into greater company goals and dynamics. The most talented employees climb the ranks and stay with the company for years. And – this is a big one – when staff express genuine concerns or suggest changes, their feedback is received positively.
Is there evidence that continuous learning culture works?
Continuous learning culture is not an empty, feel-good corporate philosophy. It is a legitimate, high-impact tool that yields results. And there are numbers to back it up!
Here are some stats about continuous learning culture and why it works:
- 40% of poorly-trained employees will leave a company within a year of being hired. (source)
- Companies with strong learning cultures are 30% more likely to be industry leaders (source)
- Employees with constant training are 83% more likely to enjoy their job and feel engaged (source)
- Over 55% of employees believe that professional growth is more important than compensation (source)
- 87% of millennials view development as an important job feature. (source)
Why is it important to develop a continuous learning culture?
The importance of a culture of continuous learning cannot be overstated. In order to understand its value, it’s helpful to think of a counter-example. Let’s break down what happens when a company does not develop a culture of continuous learning.
A business without a continuous learning culture does not provide high-quality ongoing training. Because staff lack development resources, they’re stagnant and unengaged. When team members state concerns about the business, their suggestions are shot down or met with hostility. As a result, poor processes don’t get fixed.
Often, high-achievers will leave the business once they realize their growth prospects are limited. And where do they go next? Probably to work for competitors! The employees who do stick around long-term tend to be complacent and lack drive.
Because of this, businesses without cultures of continuous learning take losses on several fronts. Because employees cannot easily gain knowledge and expand skills, their value-adding potential is slashed. In addition, the most talented and capable staff flee the company to work for competitors. This puts the business at a disadvantage.
In other words, the best employees leave, and the ones who stay either lack motivation or don’t have tools to boost efficiency. When individual growth is slowed, the company suffers as well.
How does continuous learning culture benefit businesses and employees?
On the other hand, when a company successfully creates a culture of continuous learning, the benefits are many. When learning is part of daily routine, it doesn’t just benefit employees–it yields returns for the organization.
Businesses are like bodies. When the parts are working at their best, the whole works at its best. And when the individual parts improve their performance, so does the whole. This means that resources spent on your learning culture are a direct investment in your business.
Benefits of a constant learning culture for employees:
- Increased engagement
- Broadened skill sets
- Unlock new career opportunities
- Achieve higher pay levels
- Increased motivation in day-to-day work
- Higher job satisfaction
When your employees reap the benefits of a learning culture, your business will be rewarded in turn.
Noticeable changes when you develop a learning culture:
- Increased employee engagement
- Attract and retain top talent
- Better business problem-solving
- Increased innovation and creativity from staff
- Company loyalty
- Better business processes
- Gain competitive edge
- Decrease turnover
- More internal promotions
- Keep up with industry changes
The lessons here are simple. Nurturing a culture of continuous learning creates a number of positive changes at the person-level. These improvements then reverberate throughout the entire business! It’s no wonder then, that industry leaders like Google and Facebook make learning a priority.
How do you create a culture of continuous learning?
By now, you’re probably sold on constant learning culture. But how do you create it? There are endless ways to go about it.
There is no one path towards continuous learning. It varies depending on company size, goals, industry, and other features that make your organization unique. However, there are some general principles that tend to hold true.
Here are some tips for creating a culture of continuous learning:
Give high-quality, easy-access, ongoing training:
This is a crucial step. But by no means is it the only one. There’s a big difference between constant training and a continuous learning culture. However, you can’t foster a learning culture without meaningful, consistent, easy-access training. Mobile learning and Learning Management Systems (LMS) are a great tool for this. Remote training systems make it easy to update and distribute training.
Interested in using an LMS for employee training? Check out one of our other articles and infographics on LMS training!
- 7 Steps for a Successful LMS Training Roll-out
- 5 Ways to Test a New Learning Management System – Infographic
- 5 Benefits of an LMS for Employee Training – Infographic
- How to Pick the Best LMS system: 7 Expert Tips
Identify Subject Matter Experts (SMEs):
A subject matter expert is – well, just that. Someone who knows a lot about something. Identifying SMEs is a great way to build a learning culture. To do this, select employees who excel at certain functions or have a broad knowledge base in an area. Let other employees know who the SMEs are, and encourage them to go to SMEs for guidance. This makes learning social. It also allows high-performers to share their tips. This gives SMEs the chance to elevate others’ performance.
Give constructive criticism:
This might seem obvious, but it’s hard to execute constructive criticism. People often swing towards one of two extremes. They’re either too soft on negative feedback because they want to avoid discomfort, or they’re too critical and don’t provide tools to improve.
Negative feedback plays an important role in a growth-focused culture. After all, you cannot fix mistakes if you don’t know you’re making them. However, mistakes and failures must be approached with a learning/teaching mindset. Errors are a natural and necessary part of the learning process. Therefore, you can’t create a learning environment if you shame employees who make mistakes.
At RTG Solutions Group, continuous learning culture is at the core of our management system. And for good reason! Once implemented, it makes your business a self-repairing super-organism that can keep up with the rapidly changing economy.
A culture of continuous learning will make your employees happier and more engaged. In turn, it will improve overall performance and strengthen your business processes. We could go on all day about continuous learning. But we’ll stick to these 6 key questions for now!