Foster a Learning Culture

The ability to learn continuously has been identified as one of the key competencies of the 21st century workplace in today’s knowledge economy.  To help your business and employees succeed, you should strive to create a culture of learning.  See Consider a Learning Culture under Build Your Desired Culture for details on the key ingredients of this culture.

To foster this culture, you should ensure that you are focusing on the following activities:

  • Define objectives for your work unit and determine, with your staff, discovering needs of the unit and of individual employees to achieve those objectives.
  • Discuss opportunities and encourage the development of education plans; review them on an ongoing basis.
  • Provide feedback as part of your day-to-day routine.
  • Provide employees with a variety of on-the-job learning opportunities.
  • Encourage employees to take time to attend training courses or participate in distance learning events.
  • Help employees apply formal training on the job.
  • Promote team and individual study by encouraging the sharing of knowledge and experience.
  • Coach employees in the development of new competencies; and

Take this Learning Culture Audit to find out how you and your organization are doing now.


While some of these are touched in this section, you can consider all of them when you are looking to develop the skills, knowledge and abilities of your workforce (Source:  Finders & Keepers):

  • Training – Formal or informal, in-house seminars, external courses, one-on-one sessions, instructor-facilitated group instruction, web-based individual tutorials, post-secondary offerings—there is no shortage of options.
  • Buddy system – New hire partnered with an experienced worker.
  • Feedback – Formal, informal, consistent, constructive, individual and group, just-in-time, all the time.
  • Job enrichment – Add new challenges and opportunities to the current job, in close consultation with the employee (offered, not imposed!).
  • Lateral moves – Employee moves to a new position at same level of responsibility.
  • Promotion – Employee moves vertically, to a position of greater responsibility.
  • Relocation – Employee moves to a new facility or community.
  • Cross-training Employee works in other positions or in other work areas for a period of time.
  • Rotate jobs or assignments – Some jobs or responsibilities rotate among workers.
  • Coaching – Supervisors, co-workers or external coaches assist employee with performance improvement.
  • Mentoring – Role models help employees to understand organizations values and goals and to explore organizational, career or personal transitions.
  • Committee work – Employee serves on or leads committees.
  • Special projects – Employee takes on new challenges.
  • Teamwork – Employee serves on or leads cross-functional or cross divisional teams.
  • Resource support – Employee receives a range of supports for learning and working, including job aids, written documentation, employee handbooks, operating manuals or software tools for independent study.
  • Learning plans – Employee develops an annual individualized learning plan with the employer, describing their goals and accountabilities.
  • Career ladders – Employer plans and communicates alternate paths to advancement.
  • Tuition reimbursement – Employer provides funds for employees to take approved training to encourage education.
  • Professional connections – Employer pays professional dues or supports attendance at industry conferences, with a requirement to report back on what was learned.
  • Certify – Employee earns ‘credits’ and works towards internal certification in work units or skill sets.
  • Celebrate – Employer recognizes, rewards, and communicates employees’ achievements in newsletters, annual award banquets.
  • Walk the talk – Employer demonstrates and communicates the value of continuing learning at all times, by all means, for all employees.