There is no singular definition of what a learning culture is, however, there is a common theme amongst the many different definitions. A learning culture allows members of the organisation to understand the company’s values, whilst encouraging them to improve their knowledge and skills. It tends to be introduced within organisations to improve employee performance and support personal and professional growth.
The Dimensions of the Learning Organisation Questionnaire (DLOQ), which can be used to assess learning organisations, outlines seven ‘dimensions’ of a learning culture.
The seven dimensions of learning culture
The DLOQ sections the seven dimensions into two different levels. The first four dimensions are set at a ‘people’ level, while the remaining three relate to a ‘structural’ level for an organisation. Watkins and Marsick define the seven dimensions as follows:
- Create continuous, on-the-job opportunities, for all members.
- Promote inquiry and dialogue: creating a culture in which feedback and experimentation are encouraged.
- Encourage and reward collaboration and team learning.
- Empower people towards a collective goal, using feedback from members to bridge the gap between the status and the new vision.
- Connect the organisation to its environment by helping people see the impact of their work on the entire business and linking the work of the organisation to its community.
- Create systems to capture and share learning, ensuring these are integrated with work and are accessible.
- Enable leaders to think strategically about how to use learning to create change and move the organisation in new directions.
How can a learning culture benefit your workplace?
Learning and Development is not exactly a big mystery. Within the insurance industry, many firms either have their own L&D department embedded into their organisation's structure or use third-party companies or sites (such as RWA Compliance and the Development Zone), to plan learning for their staff throughout the CPD year.
So, if learning is already part of a broker’s role, is there any need for a ‘Learning Culture’?
Most likely, the only learning carried out throughout the CPD year is that which regulation states, must be completed to ensure compliance. As a result, PERSONAL professional development may be forgotten, and company values and teamwork might be put on the back burner.
Introducing a learning culture is not to defer from the ‘compulsory’ learning you need to complete. It helps enhance the knowledge and skills you have, and encourages further improvements. Furthermore, implementing a learning culture within the company can advance employee engagement, which in turn, will enhance performance, creating an increase in customer satisfaction – and who doesn’t want that?
A learning culture can also promote innovation from members within teams or the organisation, to improve services and products and can offer further development for potential future leaders. In a world that is facing constant changes, the benefits of a learning culture cannot be overstated.
So, how can a learning culture be implemented?
Like with constructing a new policy or process within a workplace, the first thing you should do before sharing the learning culture is analyse your current learning procedure to find gaps and weaknesses that can be improved on. This will give you a chance to see what avenues are not being met outside the mandatory learning, and plan how you can include company values in team learning and across the organisation as a whole.
The discovery stage will give you an opportunity to speak to your employees to see what learning they would like to experience in their workday - this can be done through surveys/polls or individual discussions and team meetings.
Furthermore, in the investigation stage, it is vital that you ensure that training will be accessible for all levels and that you have a plan to make learning a top priority from the very start of it being rolled out. This can be ensured by allocating time to members of staff to complete certain learning and working with teams to understand the best pattern that fits into their daily/weekly routine.
You can also use this stage to research different learning methods which can increase accessibility and engagement. Don’t be afraid to move away from a ‘formal’ training/learning environment; you can make learning fun, turning it into a relatable game or internal ‘competition’ between similar teams with a reward system. By looking at the ‘fun’ side of learning, you will most likely see an increase in employee engagement throughout.
Firms must make sure they are promoting the goals of the learning culture, highlighting why it is part of the company values and how it can support an individual or team. It is important that all leaders within the company are aware that the culture includes them. Many people will follow by example, so if a team leader/manager is promoting new initiatives, you can expect the rollout to be a lot smoother.
Once your learning culture has been established, it doesn’t mean you can just leave it alone. The world is fast-paced and constantly changing, so you will need to ensure your learning is up to date, all the while, encouraging feedback from your employees, and using data to measure successes and see what can be improved.