Transforming learning culture in the post-digital workforce

May 17, 2019 Jenny Ayre

Culture has an increasingly important role to play in learning. As organisations seek to adapt to the ever-changing business landscape they need their people to respond quickly too. This requires some fundamental shifts for L&D teams – they need to do a lot more than simply offer learning programmes. First and foremost, it means creating the right environment. One in which colleagues are constantly learning and sharing information. Let's examine three of the key shifts that will need to be made for a learning culture to flourish.

Shift #1 Moving from organisational to individual responsibility for  learning

Technology is playing an increasing role in how we work, transforming roles and evolving skills. The transition to a hybrid workforce means employees will upskill and reskill throughout their career. We call this learnability - the ability to adapt and respond to changing business needs by proactively developing oneself to remain productive.

Learning is no longer only the preserve of the L&D function. It is now the responsibility of all employees.

Our report The digital opportunity: Striking the digital balance for better learning experiences reinforces the importance of a culture of learnability. The research revealed that 91% of business leaders know the importance of learnability being implemented across all organisational levels. It is essential for the transition to a hybrid workforce.

Shift #2 Moving from push to pull learning

The majority of L&D leaders said that they are already using digital tools and technologies extensively and are keen to embrace newer technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality. They realise these tools have the potential to dramatically increase learnability for employees. This is transforming learning from a push to pull model. Employees can access what they need when they need it, in order to do their job better.

With this new shift comes a fresh set of challenges. The biggest hurdle facing L&D teams today is the learner experience and making learning engaging, easily accessible and at the point of need. This is followed by working out how to encourage learners to take ownership of their own development once learning can be accessed anywhere and anytime the learner wants it. To successfully transform and digitise the infrastructure of L&D, there are internal cultural barriers that need to be addressed and overcome.

Shift #3 Adopting a digital first, agile mindset

One of the biggest barriers to digital adoption in L&D is a lack of digital skills. Despite the fact that organisations are pushing digital, 35% of L&D teams say their own digital skills aren't up to scratch. For a culture of learning to change, L&D must set the precedent by upskilling and reskilling their team.

L&D has a crucial role to play in creating the right environment for learning to flourish. To do so it must have the right mindset. One that is agile and embraces change in how we work, as driven by technology. To encourage a culture of learnability, L&D teams need to develop and learn the skills to flourish in hybrid workplaces. Never has the term ‘be the change you want to see,’ been more apt.

But developing a learning culture is not an L&D initiative - it is the responsibility of the entire organisation.  Everyone plays a part in developing a working environment that celebrates learning and encourages knowledge sharing. Creating a culture of support and individual skill development when and wherever they need it.

Driving the future of the business

The key for L&D teams is to understand that developing optimal conditions for learning requires a shift in thinking.  In a recent podcast, Nigel Paine, author of Workplace Learning: How to Build a Culture of Continuous Employee Development, defined an organisational learning culture as “learning happening everywhere and getting that environment right so people can respond and engage and feel committed to the organisation and developing their own skill base, ensuring they stay relevant and their organisation stays relevant too.”  To ensure learning continues to stay relevant a culture of learnability needs to be encouraged. The foundations will lie within L&D and senior management, who will be able to influence and alter mindsets as they drive the future of the organisation.

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