Many things have changed about the way we work. The digital revolution has ushered in a new era of connectivity and productivity. But it has also placed a new emphasis on learning and personal development. With so much information out there, staying ahead of the competition requires you and your employees to constantly evolve and get better.
And employees are keenly aware of this. Professional development opportunities are an important factor when someone is considering a new position, and a lack of them is one of the main reasons people will choose to leave your company in favor of a competitor, making talent management an integral part of your retention strategies.
However, company culture is also something that people value when deciding between companies. As a result, it only makes sense to combine the two and to create a company culture focused on learning. This will not only make your company a more attractive place to work, but it will also give employees what they need to grow and prosper, helping to reduce turnover and improve retention.
But doing this is much easier said than done. Consider the following things you need to do to build a learning culture for your team.
Encourage a feedback culture
Building a learning culture starts with encouraging people to think critically about what it is they do. And a good place to start with this is to work to develop a feedback culture within your company.
A feedback culture is one where communication flows in all directions. Employees don’t wait until managers ask them to change something. Instead, they speak up when they see something that could be improved, and they take initiative in finding and implementing solutions.
Building a feedback culture
Start by making evaluation a key part of everything you do. Whenever you run a campaign or implement a new system, break both during and after the roll-out to ask your team where things could be better, as this will let them know you value their opinions and want them to think more deeply about the way things are done.
Also, turn your staff meetings into more collaborative sessions. Instead of just reporting on progress in a top-down manner, ask different members of your team to present what they’ve done and to offer some ways to do it better. This gets everyone thinking critically, which encourages them to seek out new ways of doing things that will make both them and the company better.
Another good thing to consider is to implement an idea management system. Think of this as the suggestion box of the digital age. You can assign different team members to different areas of the business, and then through these online platforms, different people can weigh in on how things could be improved. This helps to break down the vertical nature of communication present in most organizations and gets people thinking more actively about how the company can improve.
Give people the tools they need
It’s obviously important to get people to think about ways in which the company can get better, but they won’t be able to do much if they don’t have the tools they need. Specifically, you need to get them access to resources that will allow them to expand their knowledge base, as this is how they will start looking at things differently.
For example, consider investing in e-learning platforms. These training systems allow people to explore new fields at their own pace, and they also allow them to consider real examples from other companies that are doing well at innovating and improving. You may also want to consider setting aside a budget for people to attend conferences and seminars related to your industry, as these can be great places for people to get new ideas.
A good place to start when doing this is to ask people what they might want. During collaboration or brainstorming sessions, and also during employee surveys, make sure to find out what tools people need to grow and get better. If you don’t, then all this talk about innovation will likely fall to the wayside, and as people get more comfortable with the status quo, your culture will go stale and cease to be a competitive edge.
Include professional development in your benefits packages
In many ways, the benefits you offer to people say a lot about your company culture. For example, if you offer people the chance to work from home with flexible hours, and you give lots of PTO options, this will signal to both current and prospective employees that you value work-life balance and employee well-being.
Well, the same goes for a learning culture. To demonstrate your commitment to helping employees grow, and to encourage them to take the opportunities you’re providing them, you need to offer them ways to do it. Working with an HR or benefits management firm will help you come up with competitive packages that employees want and that you can afford. Doing this on your own could lead to excessive overhead, causing your attempts to change company culture to hinder growth.
For example, you could offer tuition assistance or reimbursement to your employees so that they can pursue a degree or specialization that will help them make the company better. Not many companies do this, but those that do experience less turnover than those that don’t.
And when people have this opportunity, they tend to take it. This makes learning and professional development an essential component of your company, which helps create a culture of learning. Think about it. If you join a company and nearly everyone there has or is working towards an MBA thanks to a company tuition assistance program, wouldn’t you want to do the same? Pressure from the group can be very influential, and in this case, it can be very effective in helping you build a learning culture.
Start building a culture of learning today
Cultural change is a long process, but it can start today. Take into account these points and begin implementing them where you can. Little by little, you’ll start to see employees buy into this learning culture, helping it become a defining characteristic of your company and also a significant competitive edge.