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Hannah Gore

The Canonbury Consultancy Group

Learning Experience Director

Read more from Hannah Gore

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How to implement and measure a learning culture that addresses organisational skills gaps

Could embedding a learning culture be a long-term, sustainable approach to tackling changing skills requirements?

We find ourselves in a world where educational resources prior to entering the jobs market are being cut. Yet employers want to hire the best of the best. 

So, we are left with a paradox. 

Due to the growth of artificial intelligence and with machines and bots replacing the work of many, how employers and employees develop themselves over the next few years is crucial. Year on year many whitepapers are produced on the skills gap issues not only in new members of the workforce  but also within the existing workforce too. 

Likewise, organisations face changes internally. They have flatter structures, greater connectivity, increased collaboration, and thinner organisation walls (e.g. gig economy workers). More work is done in teams, roles are increasingly more flexible, and there are fewer concrete career paths. 

As structures and job requirements change to help the organisation compete, L&D is forced to rethink development solutions – customising them to specific challenges and ways of doing things that their organisation must adapt to and embrace.

A strong learning culture can ensure the growth and success of both the organisation and its employees.

Where organisations are rapidly growing and developing around you, it is important to adapt to the industry surroundings. Continuing with methods that were successful previously in an ever-changing world, will not ensure the success of either the company or the learning and development within the company.

As businesses evolve, the L&D profession needs to evolve too.

Five steps to begin your journey to a learning culture

Creating a learning culture is not easy. It takes time, energy and patience. To help you on your journey, here are five key steps to take:

1. Start with yourself

How can you be a trailblazer if you are at the back of the queue? Identify within yourself the types of skills and knowledge that you need to better understand your organisation and its people

2. Get to know the business

Build relationships with business, operational and marketing  teams to identify their objectives and the needs they must meet them. Learning cultures are proactive and not reactive

3. Identify the gaps

Acquire a copy of your organisation’s five-year plan to identify the gaps and forecasts to determine how L&D can be better integrated into the organisation. Learning cultures aren’t created in annual appraisals; they are grown every single day

4. Get closer to the top team

Meet with the senior leaders within your company and demonstrate how, with a learning culture, the skills and knowledge gaps can be closed to address the organisation’s five-year plan. 

5. Measure the impact

Measure the business value of the learning culture, not through the standard bums on seats happy sheets, but through the bottom line of the company. If the company’s five-year plan is to, for example, achieve double-digit growth, increase market share or reduce call centre times, this is what you should be measuring.

Senior leaders become interested in L&D when it speaks their language. Closing the gap in their five-year plan requires measuring learning culture in a language that business leaders understand. 

If a manager is too busy to help develop their team, then they will find themselves too busy correcting outcomes of an underperforming team in need of training.

The benefits of learning culture beyond the bottom line

Learning culture is not just great for an organisation’s immediate bottom line.

A learning culture can also impact organisational culture and increase talent attraction to a company. Workers will seek opportunities to join the business because it invests in the development of its people. 

A learning culture can also increase talent development within a company leading to employee satisfaction. Employee satisfaction can lead to an increase in work output, not only from efficiencies in operations, but also innovations, business development, profitability and lower staff turnover, redirecting the recruitment budget to a retention budget furthering employee development. 

In turn this raises the profile of L&D not only within the organisation, but within the industry, making your organisation the benchmark of a successful learning culture. 

“I’m/We’re just too busy.”

These are the usual responses given to implementing a strong learning culture, largely because the L&D professional has not been in a learning culture organisation before.

If a manager is too busy to help develop their team, then they will find themselves too busy correcting outcomes of an underperforming team in need of training.

We are no longer in the position to have the luxury of time, the events of 2020 clearly demonstrated what the impact of rapid change can have on an organisation, and so the time to sow the seeds for a learning culture is now. 

Interested in this topic? Read 'The five key DNA strands transforming learning today.'

Author Profile Picture
Hannah Gore

Learning Experience Director

Read more from Hannah Gore

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