3 Challenges of Building a Learning Culture (and How to Overcome Them)

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By 2025, millennials will make up 75% of the workforce, and 87% of millennials say development is important in a job. With automation on the rise, individuals are aware of the importance of staying relevant in their chosen line of work.

Employee development is a critical workplace component for both individual and organizational success. But successfully building a learning culture is not an easy task. There are several challenges to overcome along the way. Here are just three:

1. Getting Executive Leadership Onboard

Executives are the most public figures of any organization. As such, they have the power to shape culture and advocate for continuous learning and growth throughout the employee group. However, learning and development programs are often seen as a “nice to have” rather than a “need to have.” Sometimes even the leaders who see the value in learning and development just don’t know where to start.

To get your organization’s executives onboard, ensure that they are aware of the consequences of failing to support employee learning. The average shelf life of a skill is 2.5-5 years, so your organization should be consistently up-leveling employees’ skills to remain competitive in the marketplace. Additionally, learning programs keep employees engaged and diminish the risk of losing top talent. Replacing talent can be expensive and time consuming, so employee learning is good for the bottom line. When times are tough, discuss the gaps in learning culture that may have led to a business failure or downswing, so that executives recognize the opportunities that learning provides.

2. Involving Managers in Employee Learning

Manager involvement is one of the biggest drivers of employee engagement in learning. This group is responsible for coaching and mentoring. As such, they can help create an environment for continuous learning and guide employees to career-enhancing learning resources. According to a LinkedIn survey of approximately 4,000 professionals globally, 34% of managers surveyed say online learning that allows their teams to learn at their own pace would motivate them to encourage employee engagement. In addition, managers want a solid system to help them recommend learning opportunities.

To get managers involved, share learning success stories from their peers, especially where employee learning saved time and helped close a skills gap on the team. Providing concrete examples of how peers have successfully adopted a learning culture to drive business outcomes makes it easier for managers to implement and iterate the same ideas within their teams. Ensure that managers at all levels are aware of the learning solutions available and how their teams can take advantage of them. Make it easier for them to capitalize on existing routines, such as regular one-on-one discussions or annual performance cycles, to encourage individual learning.

3. Increasing Employee Adoption

ieee engineering courses online training elearning free certificates engineersEmployee adoption of learning programs is the #1 challenge for talent development, according to LinkedIn. Employees value career development more than ever before, and 94% say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career. Employee engagement would increase if it were based on the learning experiences they want, when and where they want them. LinkedIn survey results show that 58% of respondents prefer to learn at their own pace.

To meet the needs of these modern learners, consider an on-demand digital learning platform that can help employees gain access to the right learning content when they need it – and be sure to drive awareness of it. LinkedIn’s survey shows that 52% of modern learners engage in learning at the point of need, 47% in evening and weekend hours, 42% at their office desk, 30% when alerted to updates, and 27% while commuting to and from work. They like to learn in the moment, through whatever tools are most convenient to them. You’re much more likely to get employees engaged in regular learning if you provide on-demand opportunities.

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How to Overcome Top Challenges to Advance Your Learning Culture. LinkedIn.

2018 Workplace Learning Report: The Rise and Responsibility of Talent Development in the New Labor Market. LinkedIn.

2 Responses to 3 Challenges of Building a Learning Culture (and How to Overcome Them)

  1. Olivia S. January 21, 2020 at 5:32 pm #

    This post was super insightful! My favorite point you made was about the talent development struggle based on the LinkedIn study you referenced; you’re so right—getting employee buy-in and adoption for learning is so challenging. On the surface, training and development is something I think most employees would say that they want, but in practice, it’s really hard to make time for and prioritize. The best solution I’ve found that combats this is putting all of the most important training information into a learning content management system that allows employees to learn and practice where and when it works best for them. Learning becomes less of an event and more of an ongoing, consistent habit. Just food for thought to echo what you’re already saying here! 🙂 Thanks for this post!

  2. Jim April 8, 2020 at 9:47 am #

    Thanks for the article; I especially like your characterization of learning and training as a corporate “culture.” With 94 percent of employees tying their longevity with current employers directly to how well it invested in their development, it seems building a learning culture would be high on every corporate wish list. We’re finding it’s a lot easier than many companies think with the advent of employee training software. Modern LMSs or online training software is uniquely tailored to the attitudes of today’s employees. They’re flexible and on-demand, interactive to provide immediate feedback and evaluation, and allow employees to learn at their own pace and style without boxing them into a format that is neither productive nor efficient. Great read!

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