15 ways for HR leaders to promote a strong learning culture for higher performance
These include using tools that offer skill reviews, skill ratings, and informal assessments, so individuals can get the feedback they need, whenever they need it.
In a recent report by Degreed, more than 2,400 workers from 15 countries were surveyed about their behaviors, values, and assumptions in regard to learning and career growth throughout July and August 2021 to gain better insight into learning culture.
Particularly, the report focused on the differences between employees who rated their company learning cultures as positive (“promoters”) and those who rated their learning cultures as negative (“detractors”).
To start off, the report defined the learning culture as “shared behaviors, values, and assumptions”.
The report then covered the importance of a positive learning culture:
- People perform more skilfully – promoters are 199% more likely to receive a promotion.
- Teams are more agile – promoters are 235% more likely to move to new functions within their company.
- Departments adapt more rapidly – promoters are 76% more likely to say their companies responded well to the pandemic.
- Business grows faster – Promoters are 166% more likely to say their companies grew revenue faster than their competitors.
Understanding the importance, the report highlighted 15 ways for HR and learning leaders to inculcate a positive learning culture post-COVID:
#1 Employee motivation
Encourage workers to focus their development around the specific skills necessary for their current and future roles. Managers should help their teams identify two to three focus skills that overlap between their current roles and their aspirational roles.
Employees in a positive learning culture are more motivated to learn in order to perform better in their current roles and prepare for future roles. On the other hand, employees in a negative learning culture are motivated to learn purely for the purpose of completing their requirements, if not unmotivated at all.
#2 Setting goals
Encourage employees to document short-term and long-term goals.
It’s important that these goals focus on individual tasks and tactical work, emphasizing skill-based development as opposed to role-based development. A positive learning culture offers a structure for career pathing – promoters are 52% more likely to plan for their current roles and about 90% more likely to plan for next steps or long-term goals.
Through the 70|20|10 models, 70% of upskilling comes from experiential learning or learning in the flow of work. Experiential learning opportunities should be digitized, democratized, and accessible to all your workers to ensure inclusivity. Leverage technology that increases exposure, and use selection frameworks that decrease social biases.
Promoters have higher rates of all three types of learning experiences in the 70|20|10 model: experiential, interactive, and instructional. Promoters are also more likely to get diverse perspectives from inside and outside their companies.
#4 Integrate peer learning into your strategy to increase engagement
Interaction with peers and external professional networks is crucial for the diversity of thought and “outside-in” thinking, helping keep your company competitive.
#5 Invest in technology that makes learning meaningful
Don’t just measure content completions.
An alternative would be to use instructional learning systems to demonstrate how workers’ development will help them reach their professional goals. That requires user-focused technology, as opposed to admin-focused.
#6 Manager support
Train managers to create development plans with their teams that focus on more than just formal reviews, promotions, and roles.
Managers can play a part in instilling a positive learning culture by helping their people create development plans, which should be skill-based and actionable. Diversity in the approach to learning is highly encouraged. Promoters are 270% more likely to say they have a manager that supports their development.
Focus on creating a centralized and frictionless technical environment in which people know where to go, so they can continue discovering the content they need.
Promoters on average search the internet to learn weekly, while detractors only conduct web searches every month or so. The survey found that the most frequent activities promotors did when learning was searching the internet, watching videos, and reading online (newspaper, articles, reports).
Offer classes, workshops, or other formal learning opportunities on a regular basis that use a blended learning approach.
By introducing “flipped classrooms,” which allow people to play a more active role in applying their skills and teaching others, you may help improve knowledge retention. Promoters on average attend a class or workshop nearly every month, while detractors attend structured opportunities less than annually. Other learning opportunities attended by promoters also include completing a certificate or certification program and taking online courses on their own.
Implement tools and processes that encourage people to communicate frequently about the skills they are building. Try hosting quarterly team meetings dedicated to learning a new skill or building a reward system that recognizes individuals who are frequently and efficiently offering feedback to their peers.
It’s important to celebrate the accomplishments of whole teams rather than just individuals. On average, promoters receive feedback from their teams or colleagues almost weekly, while detractors receive feedback quarterly or less. Among other methods of collaborative learning, promoters also recommend courses, videos, podcasts, articles, or events to others.
#10 Make it experiential
Manager support and involvement are important for experiential learning.
Team leaders should understand the importance of creating a culture that shares talent between teams. Employees should be encouraged to take on projects outside their respective business units. Widespread on-the-job learning helps promote a positive learning culture.
Promoters on average work on experiential learning tasks or projects outside their roles or teams on a near-monthly basis. Conversely, detractors participate in similar tasks or projects far less often. Some ways include volunteering on projects outside their organization and using job aids or reference materials.
#11 Skills assessments
Introduce 360-degree skill assessments that invite colleagues and peers to participate in giving feedback.
Use tools that offer skill reviews, skill ratings, and informal assessments, so individuals can get the feedback they need, whenever they need it. Inspire and cultivate a culture of psychological safety that values continual, immediate, and informal guidance. Promoters indicated that they received feedback from peers, managers, and external providers.
#12 Skill data
Give employees a reason to update skill profiles more regularly. Ensure employees understand how their skill data can benefit them from a social and developmental standpoint. Utilize leaderboards or influencer programs to give people incentives to update their profiles.
Promoters are almost 200% more likely to update their company job application system to look for internal learning and growth opportunities.
#13 Skills profile
Ensure your talent strategy offers and values internal growth opportunities based on skill data and profiles. Use solutions that can integrate with your entire learning and HR ecosystem so skill data isn’t stored in silos but can aggregate for a holistic picture of individual and organizational capabilities.
Promoters are more likely to update their profiles to signal their strengths and identify their next learning steps and 150% more likely to connect with peers or mentors who have similar skills.
#14 Collaborative tools
Provide access and visibility into experiential learning opportunities, such as an internal network or opportunity marketplace that matches skills to new experiences in which employees can practice and reinforce their development. This visibility helps mitigate proximity and other biases by being more inclusive and discoverable for all employees, not just referrals.
Promoters have control over their own career development, access to easy-to-use career planning tools and experiential learning opportunities to develop consistently on the job.
What employees need from their managers and learning teams are the support and resources to grow. That could possibly include mentorship or working on a temporary project on another team.
The largest differentiator between promoters and detractors is the ability to work with new teams or functions. Promoters are also more likely to work with a mentor or coach or on a temporary assignment with another team.
Overall, constructing a positive learning culture based on guidance, diverse experiences, feedback, and active development opportunities is the key to not only keeping up with the needs of your business but staying ahead with a skill-based, agile development strategy.