How to Build a Culture of Learning


Developing a culture of learning is one of the most valuable things you can do for your organisation. Businesses with a learning culture benefit from having a more highly-skilled and knowledgeable workforce who are more productive and have a higher level of engagement with their work.

A report from IBM revealed that 84% of employees in the best-performing companies are receiving the training they need compared with just 16% in the worst-performing companies. A LinkedIn report also reveals that 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their training.

These factors alone should prompt every employer to reflect on whether their business promotes a culture of learning, and, if not, how they can create one. Unfortunately, organisational (particularly cultural changes) do not occur immediately and can take considerable time and effort.

In this blog, we offer a series of steps that will show you how to develop a learning culture in your business.

1. Begin with Business Leaders

As with any organisational change, the most effective way to implement it is from the top down. By and large, business leaders are the ones who define the company’s culture so the culture of learning must start with them.

This could begin by having business leaders and those in the C-Suite be early adopters of learning programs or software. For smaller organisations, having the Manager or Team Leader run the training courses themselves is an excellent way to create engagement and buy-in from employees.

However, you do not create a learning culture simply by doing a task and telling others to do the same. Beyond mandating it, it is crucial that business leaders also support the act of learning with time and resources.

A report from LinkedIn showed that the number one reason employees feel held back from learning at work is a lack of time. Supporting employees with dedicated time to learn will help them feel their development efforts are genuinely supported. It will also prevent training sessions from becoming just another task tacked onto their workday.

2. Engage Employees in the Process

Almost without fail, the people who can identify gaps in knowledge are the employees themselves. Failing to consult with your employees about any learning and development initiatives is both a classic and costly management mistake.

If employees feel that training initiatives are unnecessary or unproductive, it will make it difficult to get them to buy into and create a culture of learning. This is not to say that leaders cannot set strategic goals and direction, but it is important to do so in conjunction with their teams.

Tools such as online surveys are a good way of assessing what employees feel they need in terms of education and upskilling. However, be mindful that surveys and other reporting methods can lack depth and limit insight. The most effective method of consultation is old-school – face-to-face and one-on-one. This will not only allow employees to properly communicate their thoughts and needs, but it will make them feel that their input is truly valued.

3. Examine Your Current Learning Strategy

Many businesses find that they are incapable of building a culture of learning despite their best efforts. This might be because their current strategy is inefficient, misdirected or improperly structured. To build and reap the benefits of a learning culture, you must take a critical look at what you are already doing.

Start by reviewing all aspects of your L&D strategy. Assess what your employees are learning, how they are learning and what support and resources you are providing them with. By doing so, you can begin to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy and take steps to address them.

Establish a clear and cohesive plan of what you want your employees to learn and how they will do so. If you plan on using an LMS (learning management system) then make sure it is user-friendly and readily accessible. Training and development require resources, so the more you can provide relevant, high-quality tools, the better.

4. Make Learning a Constant Process, Not an Event

Making something a part of your business culture involves building it into everything you do. Just as learning must be supported fully by leadership, it also has to be embraced as a fundamental aspect of your business moving forward. Relegating opportunities for L&D to annual retreats or quarterly workshops turns them into novelties, not a core component of your culture.

Try setting aside time every week for employees to engage in learning and encourage them to make it a regular part of their day – much like checking emails in the morning. This could be formal and structured and take the form of weekly tutorials or workshops for technical skills. An informal approach could be to have Team Leaders provide regular recaps on current knowledge and learning targets to keep employees engaged with the process.

Treating the act of learning as a regular, everyday aspect of your business will enable it to become ingrained in your culture and benefit your organisation.


Building a culture of learning at work is one of the most difficult changes for an organisation to make. However, it is also one of the greatest predictors of success and should be a central focus for any business.

To enjoy its benefits, begin with business leaders and ensure they are creating an environment that supports development opportunities. Engage with employees to understand their needs and where they’d like to develop their skills. Finally, always examine and reflect on your current strategy and aim to make learning an everyday process in the workplace, not a sporadic event.

Following these steps will help your organisation to build a culture of learning that will deliver benefits to all stakeholders – from employees to business leaders. For more tips and advice on how to transform your business, visit our blog or get in touch with a member of our team.

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