Changing the “culture” of any organisation is a real challenge. In the face of so many other challenges, it is easy to focus instead on day-to-day tactical issues of recruitment, production and infrastructure, but in order to really handle change, innovation, engagement, collaboration and the benefits this brings, the aim of every organisation should be to create a real learning culture. This is the task of the learning professional.
A learning culture includes a set of organisational values, processes, and practices that encourage employees, and the organisation as a whole, to continually learn and add new skills.
A future of learning
Learning powers culture and culture powers engaged employees who are energised to innovate, delight customers and beat the competition.
For all generations in the workforce today, evolving with the role, or developing for the next one, has become the prerequisite of success. The ability to continually absorb new information and translate it into productive outputs is of paramount importance.
We now operate in a world where learning should be an ongoing process and offers opportunity and freedom. The challenges of the last two years have forced all generations to think differently about what it takes to stay relevant and stay ahead.
Businesses—and their employees—are depending on a strong culture of learning to navigate the new demands of work in a more agile, fast-paced world. Organisations need employees that are eager to hone in-demand skills and be deployed in a variety of roles in order to reap rewards.
To do this, organisations must deliver an environment where employees can continually develop and progress. Offering opportunities for continuous learning and creating a culture of agility is a real competitive advantage. Those organisations that and get this right, have a higher likelihood to stay ahead of their competitors.
A Learning Professional’s Role is to create culture
Learning and development (L&D) have more opportunities to impact culture than any other area within an organisation. Culture is about attitude and behaviours and in order to operate successfully in today’s changing landscape it consists of many new behaviours that need to be learned and developed.
L&D also transcends business functions, hierarchy and job titles. From new recruits to senior leaders, learning and development practitioners can act as cultural ambassadors, while embedding an organisation’s mission, vision and values into the stories and examples that bring learning to life. Learning experiences are also a great way to observe the cultural climate and get feedback from employees, on how they are feeling about an organisation’s purpose and their role in it daily.
Why Culture is Critical to an Organisation’s Success
Culture can be hard to define as it manifests in different ways, but broadly speaking an organisation’s culture is characterised by the set of underlying values, attitudes, beliefs and the resulting behaviours that define how work gets done. Therefore, how individuals think about their workplace; their engagement with a brand and how they perceive it lives up to its values is critical to their outputs meaning a positive culture drives competitive advantage and can lead to sustained corporate success.
In today’s environment, it’s critical to create an organization that is driven by purpose and incorporates purpose into all its activities. Employees seek it, customers anticipate it, and the public increasingly demands and judges it.
At no other time in recent history has business faced a phenomenon like ‘The Great Resignation’. Living and working through the pandemic and dealing with the subsequent economic and social fallout have prompted individuals to prioritise flexibility and self-fulfilment. People want to practice self-determination in all aspects of their lives, and they want to continue to learn and grow through their careers so that they can make a greater impact in their world. It has led organisations to re-examine their business strategies, workforce models, values, and culture — often steered by new demands from employees themselves.
The pandemic has also accelerated the pace of change. Digital, virtual, skills-based approaches to resourcing and wholescale transformations all mean people need to collaborate more, thrive in ambiguity, and develop stronger resilience to change.
The Role of a Learning Professional In Developing Culture
L&D plays a central role in building the skills needed in the new normal and broadening the perspectives of leaders and their teams.
From induction to training, CPD and ongoing engagement, L&D professionals can embrace their role as cultural ambassadors. They can provide examples of company purpose and demonstrations of values to embed within learning content. They can use learning to create spaces for colleagues from all parts of the organisation to get to know one another and build networks to broaden and share internal knowledge.
A Learning Professional must also upskill themselves in EDI policies and grow their own cultural intelligence. Using EDI guiding principles they should review learning design and content to ensure learning experiences are inclusive and relatable.
L&D professionals have the opportunity to help grow a company culture that has a shared sense of purpose, anchored in common corporate values and led by skilled people whose mindset and behaviours promote an inclusive and diverse workplace that fosters collaboration and innovation.
When employees are continually learning, their employers will naturally benefit. What organisation doesn’t want higher productivity, better products, that are quicker to market, improved internal mobility, higher retention rates, and a diverse pool of talent attracted to it. It’s not just about learning itself; it’s also about the outcomes a learning culture can demonstrate.
Learning and Development Apprentices
A learning and development apprentice practitioner will continue to advance their knowledge of professional best practice and align the learning needs of a workforce with the strategic objectives of a business by ensuring learning and development contributes to improved performance at an individual, team and organisational level.
Find out what a Learning and Development apprentice could do for your business.