HR professionals understand companies rely on their employees. No matter how dedicated business owners may be, they can’t succeed without talented people working for them.
That’s why it helps to develop a company culture in which learning is encouraged. When employees have more opportunities to develop their skills, they become more valuable.
They are also more likely to be engaged with their work. Although there are many reasons why employees may be disengaged, a main one is a sense that they don’t have opportunities for professional growth in the organization. Thus, providing workers with chances to build their skills is a simple but effective way to boost engagement. This also results in productivity boosts.
These are all reasons you should set a goal of establishing a learning culture at your organization. The following tips will help you do so.
Allow People to Take Risks
As an HR professional, you’re going to have to coordinate with management to develop a culture of learning. You need to make sure all managers understand how their own behaviors contribute to reaching this goal.
For example, people are more likely to learn when they are given opportunities to take risks. If you only feel comfortable sticking to tasks you know you can complete easily, you won’t grow.
Obviously, employees shouldn’t be encouraged to take the kinds of risks that could have significant negative consequences. An employee may technically be “getting out of their comfort zone” by trying to perform a task they weren’t trained for, but in many cases, doing so is ill-advised or even dangerous.
Those aren’t the types of risks management should encourage. However, management should avoid punishing people for suggesting new ideas that don’t work or attempting to help on a project (with a manager’s permission) in a way they aren’t accustomed to. Learning is a process, and failure is part of that process. Employees will be more likely to learn if they know they can fail without punishment.
Prioritize Constructive Feedback
This is another tactic that will require some degree of collaboration between HR and management. That said, it’s very important if you want to establish a culture where people are constantly learning.
Again, mistakes are a natural part of the learning process. Let managers know that, when addressing errors or delays, they shouldn’t simply tell an employee they did something wrong. Managers should also at least attempt to explain to employees how they could have done something right.
When people clearly understand the nature of their mistakes, they can avoid them in the future. They can also learn the proper way to complete unfamiliar tasks.
Provide Opportunities for Learning
Employees can’t take advantage of a learning culture if they aren’t actually given opportunities to learn. Stating your company values constant learning is less important than formally and genuinely embodying that value.
You can achieve this by working with executives and department managers to identify training programs that may be valuable to your employees. Don’t limit yourself to traditional work training sessions that involve gathering people in an auditorium for a lecture. It’s also a good idea to research more flexible training options, such as online courses and virtual programs.
Your goal is to create a robust list of training programs to employees throughout the year. Obviously, you need to be able to afford them, but that’s an issue management and executives can help you address when putting together a list.
It’s also important to notify employees when these programs are available. Making a point of letting your teams know when they have the option to learn new skills is part of a healthy learning culture.
Again, management’s attitude plays a major role establishing a learning culture. Let managers know to praise employees when they take opportunities to build new skills.
For example, participating in a training program may require an employee to use time that would typically be spent on regular work tasks. There will be some instances when it’s more important for an employee to focus on their immediate tasks than it is to attend a training program.
However, in general, employees should not be discouraged from seeking learning opportunities. Instead, their efforts should be acknowledged in positive ways. If the acknowledgment is public, even better. Other employees will feel motivated to learn when they see they’ll be rewarded for doing so.
A learning culture is important in any industry and at any company. Times are always changing. Staying competitive requires being the kind of organization in which each and every team member is inspired to approach problems in fresh, innovative ways. Companies that actually achieve this goal are those where constant learning is a major priority.