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How to Build a Learning Culture?

What is HR’s role? Beyond ensuring that employees receive relevant training, how can HR enable employees to succeed in their job?

2020 is a watershed year to undo, redo and re-start given the shakeup in the business environment induced by Covid 19 and its aftereffects.  In my own industry, Education Design and Delivery, I have been busy with developing multiple initiatives to transform our training products from face to face to online, a task which is important for our institution to continue to remain relevant in a future where there may be no going back to face to face training as has been the case for decades.  

Surely, every industry is having its own moments where its own business model is forced to transform, due to upheavals in its operating environment, as we speak

Facilitating learning is perhaps one very important role for HR to focus on. This has many facets to it, but perhaps a critical one is to contribute towards creating a culture of learning. This piece discusses some steps towards creating a culture of learning, for HR leaders to consider. 

I feel that 2020 should have forced a realization, that complacency will kill off a business and investing in resilience and agility will be the most important investment, any organization makes to ensure future success and survival. This carries implications for all in the business of developing and managing human capital. One of the investments’, organizations should be rushing is in developing a culture of learning, for agility and resilience. 

Learning culture involves attitudinal change among all employees towards learning from failure and developing a growth mindset. This requires continually increasing one’s knowledge, skills, and competencies as well as developing the flexibility to thrive in an array of shifting environments Reference

I breakdown some key components of such a learning culture below:

  1. Understand your employees and see them as learners, and not just staff.

  1. Motivate them both through extrinsic as well as intrinsic drivers.

  1. Put in place policies to overcome attitudes like “if it ain’t broken, then why fix it”, or “I am too busy to think about learning”.

  1. Progressive organisations give downtime to employees, to plan and implement their learning plans.

  1. Reward continuous learning. 

  1. Set clear and measurable learning objectives and learning paths for all employees.

  1. Add learning and development as an agenda at the board level. Leaders and managers must lead by example. 

  1. Enable managers and employees to not just do their routine work, but also be coaches and guides to others.

  1. Incentivise sharing of learning and enable a culture of learning from failure.

  1. Investing in effective learning experiences that blend work and personal interests.  rethink traditional training and move towards personalised learning. 

  1. And finally, link learning with performance.

Nilanjana Saxena is the Learning and Development Professional, Institute of Higher Learning, Singapore. She is also a published author and a speaker at world conferences.

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