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5 Things You Need Consider to Build a Really Useful Learning Culture

Roberta Gogos
Oct 07 2021

By Roberta Gogos

Learning-culture leader organizations are those who feel that their organisation’s learning culture is successful.

So, what do learning culture leaders do differently to make their learning cultures so successful? According to some new research we’ve recently conducted with HR.com, successful learning culture organisations are two times more likely to give employees a high degree of freedom, twice as likely to have learning systems that facilitate the sharing of learning, and a whopping five times more likely to say their organisational culture “definitely” supports their organization’s learning strategy. 

If that didn’t get your attention, you’re either not a learning culture focused leader, or you’re on the wrong blog! We’ve got nine more really important points we want to drive home from the research, which, by the way, is called “How Employees Learn in the Workplace.” 

The research ran in early 2021, and along with HR.com, we gathered 328 responses, primarily from HR professionals in virtually every industry vertical, across the world. The participants represented a broad cross-section of employers, ranging from small businesses with fewer than 50 employees to enterprises with 20,000+ employees. 

So what else did we find in our research? A lot, actually. Read on if you’d like to be inspired with hands-on changes you can make to create a successful learning culture that engages employees and accelerates business performance. 

1. Learning fail: Our research found that only 38% of those HR & LD professionals surveyed say that their organisations are making learning engaging, and separately, 37% say that their organisation’s learning culture ‘definitely’ supports their learning strategy.

Do we even need to say it? Engagement is everything! If you can’t create a learning culture that fully supports your learning strategy, you’ll never amass an army of engaged learners. If you’re looking for a good example of how impactful engagement is, look no further than our Avon case study. By re-thinking its learning strategy and encouraging beauty entrepreneurs to contribute content that is bite-sized and compelling, Avon was able to increase engagement and boost aggregate sales by 320% over a six month period.

2. Get real: think about how people actually learn: There’s a lot that goes into designing learning, but too often it doesn’t reflect the way people actually learn in the real world. Ask Fuse founder Steve Dineen what he finds when he asks people what they do when they hit a roadblock in a task at work, and he’ll tell you the most common answer is “I ask the person beside me for the answer.

This was very much reflected in the survey responses we got: 67% felt that the most effective form of learning is “interacting with other knowledgeable employees. In a separate question, 88% of participants said that on the job training was the most effective form of learning. 

In a world where most enterprises still dedicate 90% of their budget to formal training and 10% to informal, performance-based ‘in the flow of work’ knowledge, you’ve really got to wonder what L&D departments are thinking. It’s time to think about the value of learning in the flow of work, and what it can do for the bottom line in business. If you want to know more about the power of learning in the flow of work, our ebook Knowledge in the Flow of Work: 5 Ways to Power Learning is a great place to start.  

3. Is your L&D platform broken? With only 56% of those surveyed saying their organization’s learning system helps employees discover learning content, something is amiss. 

Let’s get this straight. You invest what is most likely a six figure sum in a learning platform, and much of the time, it’s not helping your employees discover learning content? For that price, your learning platform should be serving it up on a silver platter and spoon feeding to your employees. 

If we’re honest, we’re not massively surprised that just over half of respondents indicated their L&D systems can’t find or don’t help employees discover great content. Knowledge workers spend, on average, 20% of their week searching for knowledge - our Product Director Rhys Giles wrote all about it in this blog called Reduce Search Time and Ramp Performance with Fuse.  

Read it if you’ve got learning tools and technologies that fail to align with the factors most important for learning success. The basic premise is this - if you want your learners to be able to discover learning content, it has to be curated and easily accessible. If you want your learners to want to discover learning content, the content itself has to be reliably compelling. Note that we’re also not limiting this to content within your learning platform: your search functionality should search third party libraries as well. 

Beyond this, AI can introduce a whole new world of possibilities. Our Knowledge Intelligence Engine doesn’t just make it easy to search and find great content - it recommends it as well. 

4. The gift of freedom: Remember what we said in the beginning? Successful learning culture organisations are two times more likely to give employees a high degree of freedom. 

Yet many employees don’t have freedom over their learning experience. Our survey found that only a small minority of organizations give employees a high or maximum amount of freedom to choose why (41%), what (39%), when (39%), how (35%) and who (29%) they learn from. 

Let me ask you this: how do you expect to create a culture of continuous learning if you don’t give people a bit of freedom and say in the matter? Fair enough - when it comes to reskilling, perhaps there are foundational skills that people need. But surely when it comes to needing knowledge in the flow of work, or upskilling to maintain expertise, your employees know best. 

Giving people access to very specific knowledge to consume in the flow of work is the best way to ensure the maximum amount of knowledge is retained and applied. It’s really that simple. 

5. Are you leveraging your human capital? One of the most alarming stats of all? Fewer than half of our respondents said their systems facilitate the sharing of learning with one another. 

As mentioned before, learning from one another is the way most people learn. Beyond this, you’ve no doubt got so much tacit knowledge contained in the minds of your subject matter experts that it would be a shame not to share it around. The power of tacit knowledge is unbeatable. 

Fuse makes it easy for your subject matter experts to create content and share it with their colleagues. Our customer Scandic does it really well: bartenders are sharing mixology videos and chefs are sharing bite-sized clips of culinary genius. Regardless of whether they’re in Stockholm or Helsinki, the various communities of Scandic are connected and share their knowledge across the enterprise. If you want to watch a quick and compelling video on how Scandic Changed its Culture by Empowering 18,000 Employees to Create Learning Content, click here to view it now.

We mentioned Avon before, but what we didn’t say was that the company’s content is now 75% user generated. Engagement has doubled, and, as that jawdropper 320% stat indicates, the power of tacit knowledge is really driving sales. 

We’ve got plenty more examples where that came from, but if you’re looking to make vast improvements quickly, get in touch and we can discuss with you how to shift to a culture that provides learning in the context of work, and how to encourage learning participation. In the meantime, rab a copy of our new report with Brandon Hall Group, and see why personalised learning in the flow of work is key.

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