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Here’s How to Foster a Culture of Learning at Your Company in 2020

Article 1.27.20

It’s the start of a new year, and with it the opportunity to change the way in which your employees work and how your organization’s culture operates. So, what’s one of the most powerful ways to boost productivity and make people who are employed at your business happy? Inspire a culture of learning.

With new technologies and online platforms, employees can continue learning and developing their skills more easily than ever before. For example, employees can enroll in part-time courses online and earn certificates and degrees. They can also take one-off courses through programs like LinkedIn Learning and develop skills on a range of business topics.

By having employees who are interested in self development and supporting these efforts, you’ll have people who stay longer at your organization and who are more invested in their work. To help, here are some strategies you can employ to foster a culture of learning:

First, it’s important you reward your workers who seek out learning opportunities and continue to take courses to develop their skills. According to Harvard Business Review, your organization should “reward continuous learning.” The articles notes, “It is impossible to trigger deliberate changes in your team’s or organization’s culture unless you actually put in place formal reward systems to entice them — and even then there is no guarantee you will achieve change unless the rewards are effective.”

These formal reward systems could entail bonuses for employees who take part in learning programs and upskilling opportunities.  The company could even help pay for coursework and degree programs in exchange for working at the firm for a number of years.

As part of fostering a culture of learning, it’s also crucial to train your managers to understand what you’re trying to accomplish. For example, HBR notes, “Sadly, even when managers understand the importance of learning — at least in theory — they are often more interested in boosting short-term results and performance, which can be an enemy of learning.” Therefore, you should take the time to train managers to understand your organization’s culture initiatives and learning opportunities so that they don’t just focus on short-term results.

Beyond incentivizing learning programs and training management to understand what you’re trying to achieve long-term, it’s also key that you lead by example. According to HBR, this is a “critical driver” of success for developing a culture of learning. “As illustrated by the leadership value chain model, leaders’ behaviors — particularly what they routinely do — have a strong influence on the behavior and performance of their teams,” as noted in the HBR article. “And the more senior that leaders are, the more impactful their behaviors will be on the rest of the organization. Accordingly, if you want to nurture your team’s curiosity or unlock learning in your organization, you should practice what you preach.”

Fostering a culture of learning is an important step to take in 2020 so that your employees are happier and more productive. To achieve this, there are many organizational things you can do including offering rewards and incentives, training managers to value this learning culture and leading by example. If you follow these steps, you’ll put into place an atmosphere where learning and development are paramount.

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