“The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization’s learning culture.”
In light of the rapid digitalization and automation of all systems and processes, the industrial landscape is fast changing. Technology is creating a rapid transformation in the industrial landscape, and it is imperative that all organizations adapt to these changing needs and strategize suitably. The demand for human expertise is also rapidly changing and many new skills are now gradually gaining importance. Since most of the transactional activities are now automated and digitized and do not require human intervention, human minds are now involved in making strategic decisions for the organization for which learning needs are changing.
In line with this, growing importance is now placed on intellectual curiosity and strong learning orientation, including the intention and capability to quickly grow and adapt one’s skill sets and competencies to contribute to one’s career development as well as organizational value. More stress and relevance are placed on your capability and willingness to learn and grow, rather than what is already in your knowledge,and knowing the answer to questions is less important than having the burning desire to ponder ask the right questions in the first place.
“An organization with continuous learning culture has a set of systems, processes and values which constantly encourages employees to develop competence with knowledge. It believes that continuous learning will help the employee to evolve better personally and professionally”
A learning culture has numerous benefits –
- Increased operational efficiencies and productivity
- More employee engagement and satisfaction with place of work
- More ownership and commitment to business projects
- Willingness to adapt to and advocate change and transition in the organization
- Career and leadership development
- Attrition and turnover impact
- Culture of knowledge creation and sharing h) new technology and trends become easier to obtain as the organization constantly wants to embrace innovation.
All these benefits will ultimately help the organization empower and fully leverage internal talent and reach the pinnacle in their industrial sector.
However, if research is to be believed, only 10% of organizations have managed to create learning organizations, with 20% of employees demonstrating effective behaviors at work. As a Harvard study says, companies who encourage learning behavior in their employees are 30% more likely to be industry market leaders for an extended period of time. Organizations with transformative learning culture who encourage learning opportunities and experiences thrive in the world.
It is important to look at the major drivers that organizations need to take care of to create a learning culture –
1- Reward and Recognize Learning Orientation
Internal talents who have a constant hunger and urge to learn and grow, and have successfully learned new skills and tools need to be given appropriate recognition and rewarded suitably. It is very difficult to motivate employees to collectively come together to create a learning culture until and unless they know that efforts will be rewarded in a manner that is beneficial to them. A problem faced by many organizations is that they are encouraged to focus on their formal work systems rather than spending time on learning. At Vedanta, we ensure that our young talents are allowed to participate in Executive Committees and meetings with senior business leaders, so that they can absorb key learnings at an early age. Rewarding learning does not only imply promoting or recognizing employees, but also creating a culture where disruptive thinking and an inquisitive nature is encouraged, because that is the only way we can expect to bring changes and technological developments to our existing way of doing things.
2- Ensure That Learning is Linked to Business Needs and There is A Good Transfer Climate
It is important to take continuous feedback from employees and managers in how the learning programs they have participated in have improved their performance in line with business needs. This will further encourage this culture and propagate it across teams. For this, a structured training needs analysis is imperative to be conducted with all functional heads to deduce the kind of training programs that will lead to higher performance and bring about greater efficiencies in our systems and processes. This will also increase the acceptability for including learning as an important business investment. We need to ensure that line managers and functional heads encourage innovation and new ideas. They should be welcoming to the idea of their employees applying the concepts and learnings from training programs in their deliverables (proper transfer climate). This will also be easier to implement if the learning programs are already linked to business needs and performance and the usefulness is widely accepted. Feedback should also be provided in a constructive way so that the teams can add greater value.
3- Diversity in Hiring Practices and Benchmarking with Best Practices
We at Vedanta have a very strong diversity policy and we focus on hiring the best quality minds from across geographies, educational backgrounds and genders. This leads to diverse and innovative ideas coming in the way we do things. We also regularly conduct benchmarking visits to best-practice companies an ensure that the key learnings are incorporated and knowledge sharing is done for maximum effectiveness.
4- Elevate Internal Talent / Leadership From Within
A learning culture means that our internal talent pool is developed and nurtured enough to take on higher responsibilities. Cross-functional internal job postings also ensure greater on-the-job learning and striving to grow and achieve more. This will also lead to greater career development for our existing employees and a reduction in external hiring costs. At Vedanta, we have a very structured program for elevating internal talent from within into high-impact projects and key leadership roles.
5- Develop A Formalized Learning And Development Process
To start with it is important to include a formalized process – by making some learning programs mandatory and as a part of the appraisal process. It will also be cost-effective to have subject-matter experts provide internal training to their colleagues. In a rapidly evolving digital world, developing a learning culture is now not a luxury, but a necessity. It is the only way to stay aheadand gain greater advantage.