The future of work affects what, how and where work is done. It will transform how organisations operate, how peoples’ skills are utilised, and the way organisations engage with their customers.
Data, tech-enabled systems, and the generationally mixed workforce are three major forces that will impact work and present organisations with new ways to leverage learning.
It is clear that as work changes, new and potentially more fulfilling roles will be created. However, some people will not have the skills to perform these roles or may find their current role has been replaced by automation technologies. To counter this, building a positive learning culture is critical. Businesses that effectively nurture the desire of the workforce to learn are at least 30% more likely to be market leaders in their industries over an extended period of time.
Bersin by Deloitte defines a learning culture as the way that people think and act about learning. A learning culture supports businesses to:
- Innovate and stay relevant in the market – no one wants to be the next Kodak or Blockbuster.
- Attract and keep top talent. In the words of Deloitte LLP chair, John Hagel: “Retention becomes a non-issue; if people are developing more rapidly than they could anywhere else, why would they leave?”
- Develop the skills needed for the future, and future strategy.
So what can organisations do to develop a learning culture? Josh Bersin has identified some of the hallmarks of businesses with great learning cultures.
- They hire curious people.
- They are led by leaders, young and old, who do learn new tricks.
- They provide feedback that is honest, open, and comes with a commitment to support skill development.
- They treat learning as continuous, creating environments where people are visibly supported to learn.
- They reward, and value, continuous learning and use this as a symbol to encourage the desired cultural behaviours.
These indicators sound easy to emulate, but only 10% of organisations are managing to create effective learning cultures. We see two opportunities for organisations at the beginning of the learning culture journey. These are the building blocks for developing a unique learning culture that supports a specific strategy.
- Develop a new learning mindset. All employees, including senior leaders, should embrace that they will need to keep learning to stay relevant in their careers. Organisations should elevate the importance of learning as a means to develop the skills needed to achieve future success.
- Take advantage of modern technology. Deliver learning content to employees as and when they need it. Using the same type of modern technology that employees use in their personal lives (i.e. video learning, learning through mobile apps, and gamified learning) we see limited risks to successful adoption.
One of the first questions we hear from clients is ‘who is responsible for activating a positive learning culture?’ The short answer is everyone. However, leaders are critical to meaningful culture change. They can guide others by modeling learning behaviours, and can raise the importance of learning by encouraging and empowering individuals to actively address their learning needs.
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