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Developing Sustainable Learning Cultures in the Workplace

EZRA
Aug 17 2021 | Research

Ezra's latest research discusses how to go about developing a sustainable learning culture within a workplace in order to effectively promote continuous employee development.


Learning culture is a part of overall workplace culture, specifically with regards to the way that learning is implemented in the workplace. Gone are the days of learning characterized by one-off, formal in-person events. The modern workplace needs much more if it wishes to promote continuous development of its employees in an effective way.

Learning Culture Themes

  • Learning should be embedded into and throughout work, at all levels of the organization, not simply as formal training events

  • Leaders and managers need to support and encourage learning, seeking out new opportunities for their staff and themselves

  • Learning should not only be promoted, but rewarded

  • The act of learning is ongoing and changeable depending on the organization’s needs, not a finite event or action

Examples of learning culture initiatives include Etsy School, Pixar University and Google’s “Googler-to-Googler” initiative.

  • 95% of participants in Google’s bite-size internal learning initiative would recommend it to others

  • managers taking part in Google’s learning initiatives saw 22-40% improvements in relevant behaviours

How do companies approach learning behaviour?

  • only 31% would describe their company as having a highly learning driven culture

  • 56% of employees value learning

  • but only 16% of them “live and breathe” it

  • only 36% of top management are involved in learning culture activity

  • Discrepancy between CXOs (chief experience officers) and CLOs (chief learning officers):

  • 70% of CLOs believe learning is not adequately funded vs just 30% of CXOs

Learning culture is more powerful than singular learning “events” – what’s the point in running a single training session, workshop, or seminar, when things move on so quickly?

Benefits of learning culture for employees include

  • career opportunities

  • empowerment

  • job satisfaction

While the benefits for the company include

  • no more wasted training

  • attract and retain top talent

  • innovation and adaptability

  • productivity

Companies that tie internal promotion to learning and development are 22% more likely to have higher retention rates and satisfied employees. A key challenge for many is support from the senior leadership.

  • 78% of L&D professionals struggle challenging leaders who have expectations of learning that are too “traditional”

  • 76% felt that learning was not prioritized by management

  • 64% believed that learning was only seen as a cost-center, rather than an investment

Embedding a continuous learning culture is possibly one of the most important initiatives for a business. An organization with a strong and positive learning culture:

  • is 32% more likely to be first to market

  • has 37% greater employee productivity

  • has 34% better response to customer needs

  • has 26% greater ability to deliver products

  • is 58% more likely to have skills to meet future demands

  • is 17% more likely to be a market-share leader

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