Today’s workforce is more diverse than ever before. Economists predict this diversity will continue to grow. Although building a learning culture takes time, it has a significant impact on employee growth and retention. Leaders should recognize and acknowledge the need for multifaceted training due to generational different learning styles, unique roles, and types of work environments. In today’s workforce, if valued employees are not given continual development opportunities, they’ll leave to work elsewhere. Follow these tips to start building an effective learning culture to retain and recruit top talent.
Tip #1: Ensure the company has learning equity.
Learning equity ensures every employee is privy to learning opportunities, regardless of who they are and what their role is. Their age, learning style, role, or work environment does not matter. Everyone should be continually learning. It's a challenge that can be overcome with an effective learning culture. It means having the right type of training and tools in place for each unique individual.
Tip #2: Consider your entire employee population.
All employees are different and come from diverse backgrounds and career experiences. A one-size-fits-all learning program is not the answer. A learning culture should be as unique as each individual employee. Not everyone learns in the same way; consider these nuances as your organization builds out curriculums and selects learning tools:
Generational: For the first time, five generations are working side by side in many companies. Here are a few cohort learning differences:
- Gen Z: loves to learn in a completely virtual environment
- Generation X: hungry for knowledge and prefers on-the-job learning
- Millennials: want ready access to technologies and favor learning while doing
Learning styles: The VARK Model of Learning advocates that humans tend to approach and process new material in one or more of these learning models:
- Visual: using graphics, charts, and images
- Auditory: speaking and listening while attending lectures and meetings
- Reading/writing: taking notes, reading the information, and analyzing in written formats
- Kinesthetic: manipulating and building models, drawing pictures, or physically replicating movement or actions
Roles: A learning culture calls for continual learning at all levels of the organization. Employees need up-skill training. But the different curriculums will vary dramatically based upon their role. Here are just a few topics:
- C-Suite: authenticity leadership, risk management, succession planning, and mentoring
- Middle management: leadership, DEI, conflict management, and employee retention
- Frontline workers: customer service, problem-solving, safety, and wellness
Work environment: Since the pandemic, the workplace has changed for many. Alter the various types of training to suit each employee’s situation:
- In-person: face-to-face meetings, group lectures, and conferences
- Remote: townhalls, working sessions, webinars, online upskill training, and reading materials
- Hybrid: the best of both the in-person and hybrid worlds, as all training opportunities are available
It’s important to keep these unique differences in the workforce in mind when developing an effective learning culture. For example, a one-size-fits-all approach is not the solution for a training program for a Gen Z remote employee and a hybrid baby boomer. A baby boomer is going to want to go into the office for a presentation versus a Gen Z who will successfully learn on their computer at home.
Tip #3: Build learning into the flow of work.
Change management, DEI, innovation mindset development, and continued engagement should be on every organization’s growth goals. All of which a continuous learning culture can foster and support. With large goals and potential time constraints, how is an effective workflow achieved? The answer? Invest in microlearning and self-directed learning for your people.
According to a report from PR Newswire, the microlearning market is growing at an accelerated rate. This indicates that corporate training is going the way of microlearning now and in the future.
The benefits of microlearning and self-directed learning are well worth the investment. An Accenture study showed that for every dollar spent on training, companies received a $4.53 return. That’s a 353% ROI! Several benefits include:
- Accommodating: engages as fits individuals’ learning style
- Flexibility: reaches learners wherever and whenever—24/7 access!
- Pursue own career advancement: faster professional development
- Quick and efficient: quick learning time allowing for work deadlines not to suffer
- Broad reach: accommodates audiences whose needs, schedules, and locations vary
- Ready on-demand: provides relevant information targeted specifically to the learners
An effective learning culture is a crucial step for the long-term health of your company. It allows teams to implement modern technologies and processes with fewer difficulties. As employees continue to learn, they’ll find new ways to tackle initiatives. They’ll look at things from a new perspective. Learning will open their minds to innovative ideas and ways to do things. An innovative culture evolves, and new employee talents are discovered!
Keep in mind, an effective learning culture allows time to get your work completed, time to learn, AND take brain breaks, such as gamification or a stretch break. This allows learners to take a break from the learning process, a way to relax and re-energize, and then return to learning with a fresh mind and perspective. According to Leonardo Cohen, a neuroscientist at the National Institutes of Health, “breaks are the period when our brains compress and consolidate memories of what we just practiced.”
Tip #4: Offer learning topics for today’s workforce.
The course library should cover a vast range of topics to reflect the topics that matter most in today’s world of work. Think about the diversity of any organization—national origin, language, race, color, ethnicity, age, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, socioeconomic status, veteran status, disability, religion, career stage, education level, and family structure. By weaving diversity, equity, and inclusion into the fabric of your learning program, you lay the groundwork for culture change and fostering belonging for your employees.
Soft skills, such as teamwork, problem-solving, communication, adaptability, and time management are training topics critical to the success of all employees. For example, a graphic designer may impress with a creative marketing flier, but if the deadlines are missed and they are not open to feedback, their career suffers. With soft skills training, productivity increases and so does employee confidence. Soft skills training teaches diverse teams to learn how to interact and treat others with respect. Trust develops through these positive interactions forming strong business relationships and information sharing. Employees feel psychologically safe and feel they belong.
How can companies avoid the pitfalls of traditional training? Providing continuous, bite-sized learning at all career stages solves this issue. They can create a more effective learning culture and a high-performing workforce. For more on how Blue Ocean Brain can help build an effective learning culture, click here to schedule a consultation with one of our learning experts.