Insights | July 4, 2022

Cultivating a learning culture: how L&D teams can remodel the framework, not the foundation

7 minute read

Ensuring employees have the expertise to advance your business is vital to staying competitive so having an engaging learning programme will help maintain skills, improve motivation, and foster a culture that prioritises a commitment to professional development

Keeping ahead of your competitors is vital if you’re to remain at the forefront of your industry – you must ensure you take advantage of every opportunity available to your employees. Ongoing learning is one way to do this, as it keeps your workforce informed on the latest developments and their skills are continuously refined.

However, as a learning and development team, you need to check your learning culture is benefitting your colleagues as well as your organisation. Here’s how you can go about cultivating that culture, why it will boost your business, and how to assess if you have an engaging learning offering.

Benefits of a learning culture

Cultivating a learning culture

Assessing an eLearning culture uptake

Benefits of a learning culture

Your learning culture will include organisational values, practices and processes  that encourage employees to continue learning and add more skills. This leads to improved motivation and morale, because people are more engaged when they feel their employer is invested in their advancement – when they feel truly valued.

You’ll also find colleagues who want to learn and acquire new skills will work harder, perform more strongly, and adapt better to changes. This growth mindset applies to individuals as well as organisations: these brands will have more employees who feel appreciated and demonstrate more innovation.

Businesses with a strong learning culture will be better prepared for change because colleagues are encouraged to ask questions, observe, iterate, and keep learning. As more people in a brand do this, the group can adapt to updates and anticipate any issues. They can also keep pace with industry innovations, particularly with new technology.

This can lead to a great return on investment (ROI) in the long term, as these points are important when creating a company that’s profitable and successful. Although a learning culture takes time and energy to create and maintain, the payoff your organisation will enjoy from cultivating one will be substantial.


Cultivating a learning culture

One 2020 study of learning cultures states that, of the top-performing 10% in its data sample – called high-impact learning cultures (HILCs) here – these environments had a great effect on behaviour. In these instances, those people are better at adapting and identifying capability risks. The HILCs all had these four attributes in common:


  • Growth (greater innovation and employee motivation)
  • Profitability (better performance and customer satisfaction)
  • Transformation (better at problem-solving and responding to business changes)
  • Productivity (within roles and with better talent management)

So what can you do to encourage a great learning culture? Start by asking yourself – and your organisation – a few key questions:


1. How do people want to learn?

Most people prefer to learn new skills online when offered a choice, according to research commissioned by Digits in 2022, which also found that watching videos and completing courses online are now the most popular learning methods in the UK. Face-to-face options – such as in-person classes and one-to-one tutoring – were favoured by fewer than one in four (23% and 19% respectively). Listening to content online or in an app was fifth (15%).

People over 55 who expressed a preference were more likely to try online courses (24%) than consume online videos (21%). Video content is the learning method of choice for those under 55.


2. What type of learning is on offer?

A 2022 whitepaper by Digits also found there are gaps in the training UK employers offer their staff. More than a quarter of British workers (27%) may not have received enough training for their current roles, while a similar number called their most recent training a box-ticking exercise (25%).

Based on a poll of 1,001 employees, Digits’ research discovered that people in senior management positions are most likely to have training linked to their professional development, such as technical skills (offered to 49%), digital skills (38%), communication (36%), upskilling (30%), and reskilling (18%).

Middle managers are most likely to be offered training related to their position within an organisation. This includes management (offered to 48%), diversity and inclusion (34%), mentoring (32%) and compliance (30%).

Non-managerial staff – the largest group of survey respondents – are most likely to need to complete mandatory training, and where they may have little choice about the content (50%, compared to 36% of senior managers and 37% of middle managers).

When it comes to virtual learning, in 2021 UK residents are most commonly searching online for courses related to IT, computers, and web development – suggesting a strong desire among workers to upskill themselves in the latest technology, such as programming language and video-editing software. Business, management and finance is the second most-commonly searched for category of online courses in the UK.


3. Why create an eLearning culture?

Employees and companies find there are myriad advantages to using eLearning in the workplace. It can suit a range of learning styles and preferences , is cost- and time-efficient, and can be modified easily.

Your eLearning offering can be agile because learners can access courses they want to complete at any time, new materials can be delivered quickly and more often, and can use a variety of formats. This training can also be targeted, so every learning journey can be customised to a person’s specific requirements, including key focus areas identified in a training needs analysis (TNA). Knowing training can be accessed at any time, from anywhere, means a learner is also more likely to complete it.

It can also be scalable, giving you the opportunity to have one solution for multiple needs. It can be used for onboarding new colleagues, for example, as well as delivering management training – having a positive effect on your business. Your employees can also be empowered as they develop skills, helping them to feel more valued.

Using a learning management system to deliver and manage your learning means you have access to reporting and analytics functions, which will give you insights into the most popular content, engagement rates, where learners are spending time (or not), plus other datasets to help you decide future learning and development plans.

Using an LMS will help to ensure consistency, too, as you’ll distribute content from a single source – creating clarity for employees as there won’t be mismatched information. It means eLearning offers a repeatable, reliable framework to deliver training.


4. How can L&D teams adapt training to make it engaging?

There are several ways learning and development teams can adapt and amend their organisation’s workplace training programme so employees can better engage with – and be more interested in – the content. These can include:


  • Gamified learning: engagement can increase with some healthy competition between colleagues, aiding the development of your learning culture. Functions such as reward points, customisable badges and leaderboards will encourage users to share their learning progress and finish key activities. This will create interest in learning and reward learners when completing courses
  • Social learning: employees can connect by using your learning platform to share knowledge. Groups can be created for all colleagues to join, or private groups for cohorts such as new starters, managers, or apprentices, for example. Not only is this a digital space to discuss good practice, offer support and share ideas, but also contribute to knowledge base articles in your content library
  • Blended learning: instead of offering only classroom-based learning, your LMS can enable you to bring together a range of different content types – such as eLearning courses, videos, workbooks and on-the-job learning activities – to build optimum learning journeys for your people. A typical programme will include instructor-led classroom or virtual sessions at certain times, plus independent study for the learner to complete in their own time. It means they can ask questions at events and study at their own pace

Using a range of techniques helps to create a learning environment where neurodiverse employees have the same opportunities as their colleagues. For instance, some employees may want to have written instructions  (rather than verbal ones) so they can assimilate this information in their own time, or they may require clear, unambiguous instructions. You can also offer regular, positive feedback – this can boost confidence, which may be low because of previous negative experiences.


Assessing an eLearning culture uptake

As you develop your eLearning culture, you’ll need to continuously measure  the success of the methods you’re using. You can find out the effect of the training on your employees by measuring items such as completion rates and engagement – which you can do by using the reporting and analytics tools in Digits’ LMS, for example – helping decision-makers to assess the next steps.

Monitoring these items can mean you can make changes to your courses so they better suit your employees’ needs. You can experiment with different methods, such as using online training alongside face-to-face training and one-on-one coaching, for instance.

Implementing a learning culture means you’re better prepared for the future, and employees will perform better. Ask colleagues how they want to learn, assess what you already offer, and how eLearning can benefit everyone. Your LMS can help assess how this learning culture is engaging teams – so book a demonstration of Digits’ LMS or download our brochure to find out how our learning management system can transform your organisation.


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Rosie Nicholas

Rosie Nicholas

Learning and Development LMS Workplace training