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Learning culture: the benefits of continuous learning at work

11th Jun 2019
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How can you create and nurture a learning culture in your organisation and secure buy-in from your team?

Businesses are now recognising the need for workplace learning and are creating more opportunities for continuous development, leading to better performing employees and higher performing teams.

Unfortunately, with the ever-increasing pressures on business to meet deadlines and organisational objectives, it can become more difficult for business leaders to release their staff for professional development activities.

There is a need for business leaders to recognise that workplace learning is a necessity, the results of which benefits the team, employees of all levels and the business as a whole.

Where to begin

Take for instance call centres. Quite often, team leaders will listen to calls to ensure employees are delivering the expected service. Within the retail industry, dummy displays are set up within the employees’ staff rooms so they can see how displays are created and maintained to deliver the products to customers.

These are simple methods of workplace learning that can train an employee for their role, improving them in their function and creating an atmosphere of supervision and team spirit.

Business leaders need to create a learning environment and culture allowing employees to develop and flourish, and make crucial mistakes.

Within the modern office environment, the use of physical space can be very beneficial for learning.  

Breakout spaces and round tables are important to enable discussions and brainstorming of ideas.

The round table approach enables employees to contribute equally and to learn from others.

Technology works

Technology can also be used effectively within the business. This is an ideal way to develop IT skills as well as developing knowledge of business practices.

For example, the use of Adobe Connect platforms enables webinars and pre-recorded sessions to take place within the working day. This provides the benefit of using one’s own workspace to continually learn.

It is also important to ensure the traditional method of face-to-face learning is not lost, however, as this is the primary way in which team building can take place.

A consistent approach

To ensure that any workplace learning environment is successful, there are a number of factors to be considered.

Organisations need to be flexible, innovative and empathetic to the needs of its employees.

Business leaders need to create a learning environment and culture allowing employees to develop and flourish, and make crucial mistakes.

Opportunities for learning must be made available and time must be factored in, even if this is only minimal.

A consistent approach will engage employees and motivate them to develop themselves.

Leaders also need to promote self-learning and educate employees on the benefits of this personally and for the betterment of the team and organisation.

Praise is essential and this can be made easier when learning takes place on the job and using workspaces.

Why is it worth it?

An essential question on this subject is, ‘why?’

Why put so much effort into turning the workplace into a place of learning?

The answer is simple: ‘it’s always been that way!’

In this context, the only difference between the workplace of 30 years ago and today is that even more effort is put into harnessing the workplace to have a dual function: to carry out the work of the organisation, as well as for workplace learning.

Employees who are trained and mentored in the workplace evolve into the kind of employees managers want them to be. 

The learning function of a workplace, the culture that inspires it, is a matter of common business sense.

By training junior staff as they work, the experience puts their learning in a real-life context, thus making the lesson more applicable and the learning curve more immediate.

Mentoring: a two-way street

Many organisations have formal mentoring systems in place, whereby newer staff are coupled with more experienced employees in order to learn from them and give them a person they can go to and seek advice and guidance.

This does not relate only to junior staff, particularly following the past 20 years of technological advancements in all areas of business.

Senior staff and those from the older generation have also required training to make the most of the potential that technology offers to enhance the business.

This two-way street means that the workplace is as much of a learning environment as it has ever been.

New technology and the lessons of experience culminate to develop employees into a skilled, enthused, and broadly experienced team member that managers and businesses can use to overcome new and old challenges and help their workplace thrive.

How does this help the employee, and your business?

The benefit of workplace learning to the employee cannot be overstated.

Being ‘shown the ropes’ instills the confidence that particular employee may be looking for in their role, as well as providing the experienced superior the positive feeling of creating a bond.

Employees who are trained and mentored in the workplace evolve into the kind of employees managers want them to be. They take what they have learned and apply the same lessons throughout their careers, eventually passing them on to their new junior colleagues.

In short, instilling a culture of workplace learning is nothing new, but it is essential to making your business a success and ensuring your team’s members are content and excited to work with you and for the business that connects you.

Interested in this topic? Read How to steer your business towards a learning culture.

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