Tactics to Create a Culture of Learning & Development

Creating a culture of learning and development (L&D) has become a priority for many organizations recently. With numerous driving factors, learning development is an unavoidable element in today’s workplace. Employees want to learn, be challenged, increase productivity, be innovative and have a real impact on company performance.

This article will look at L&D from three different viewpoints:

    1. The different types of L&D cultures
    2. The benefits of a culture of L&D
    3. Tactics to use within your learning strategy to maximize engagement

Different types of L&D cultures

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All organizations have a learning culture, however, in many cases, it is undefined.

The different types of culture can be divided into 4 broad categories:

  1. A culture of compliance.
  2. A culture of necessity.
  3. A culture of learning.
  4. A culture of continuous learning.

A culture of compliance

Organizations with this culture typically pay little attention to learning or its development. This type of culture is in place usually by force, often in the form of laws and regulations required to conduct business.

A culture of necessity

Organizations often require employees to complete specific, company-related training. This is typically training around a specific product or tool the company is rolling out or using in its operations.

A culture of learning

This level of learning is provided through targeted programs and initiatives. It goes beyond compliance and necessary learning and is focused on building relevant skills. This is often seen as an event-driven type of learning with employees being taken out of their jobs to attend a talk or conference.

For example, financial services employees taking a day off work to attend a FinTech conference.

A culture of continuous learning

This is the most advanced level of learning, with employees actively learning to build their skills and progress as professionals. This type of learning is valued by the company and encouraged by upper management.

A simple example is employees being encouraged to research different aspects of their job while at work. Be this using online resources such as Google and YouTube or through reading and other educational avenues.

Benefits of Learning

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While the benefits of learning may seem self-intuitive, organizations often neglect their knowledge development strategy. In a professional environment, actions which do not have a direct impact on business KPIs can be shunned by upper management, depending on the type of culture.

The positive impact a system of learning can have justifies its implementation into any organization.

Some benefits include:

  1. Out-perform competitors
  2. Improved employee retention and engagement
  3. Increased productivity

Out-perform competitors

A company’s strategy is often competition-centred. What are key competitors doing and how can their successful activities be replicated in your organization? And how can you ensure you don’t get left behind?

Allowing competitors to gain a competitive advantage can damage the market position of your company. Competitors could begin to out-perform, race further ahead and poach people from within your organization.

Improved employee retention and engagement

Traditionally, salary and security were motivating factors behind employee retention. Today, employees want the opportunity to learn and develop professionally. They are passionate about their work and want to excel.

Neglecting a learning strategy can frustrate employees and leave them feeling unwanted or under-valued.

This could lead to employees wanting to leave the organization in search of a position with a greater likelihood of professional development. For example, Middlesex University reported that from a 4,300 person survey, 74% of respondents felt they were not fulfilling their full potential due to a lack of development opportunities while research has also found 40% of employees who have not received adequate onboarding training will leave their job within the first year.

Increased Productivity

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The link between productivity in the workplace and organizational performance is undeniable.

Some key stats related to learning and productivity. Employees are:

  • 37% more productive than their peers at organizations that don’t value workplace learning.
  • 58% more likely to have the skills in their talent pipeline to meet changing marketplace needs.
  • 32% more likely to be the first to market an innovative solution.
  • They are 34% more likely to respond faster to and satisfactorily address customer needs.

Tactics for creating a culture of L&D

There are a number of tactics which can help you instill a culture of learning. The below list identifies the successful tactics some companies use.


Giving employees stretch roles forces individuals to train consistently to keep up with the demands of their position. This means a person has responsibilities marginally beyond their capabilities. This forces them to up-skill through learning and in turn creates an engaged workforce with a culture of mentoring.

Required and optional training

One method to encourage internal learning is by offering required training along with optional classes employees can take to up-skill. The mindset within some large companies is employees are ‘all learning’ and advancing their knowledge should be an enjoyable process, so optional training should have high engagement rates if delivered in the correct way.

In-house inspiration

Regular in-house events where industry leaders speak to the company workforce on a specific topic can be both educational and inspiring. Focused on professional development, many companies bring in inspirational leaders to educate and motivate their workforce. This inspiration spawns a culture of development among employees which spurs professional progression.

Go beyond the minimum

Employing a combination of eLearning and face-to-face classroom sessions can help employees become their ‘best self’. Allied to this training, consider running a complementing vision and goals program to give employees direction in their career, going beyond the minimum requirement of simply providing eLearning to keep stakeholders happy.

Train and upskill, regardless of experience

In some companies, applicants with all levels of experience are accepted, not just those with experience specific to the role at hand. Offering internal training which allows new hires to train in on new skills and take up unfamiliar roles is an interesting tactic some companies implement.

Personalized programs

Administering each employee with a personalized professional development program is another tactic some organizations use to engage employees with internal learning programs.

Individuals map out what they want to achieve and receive the appropriate training to reach their goal. These goals tie in with company strategy, ensuring learning is aligned to organizational performance.

Provide a budget

Some organizations are so eager to see employees excel in their position, they administer a personal learning budget. Employees are given a professional development budget which they can use throughout the calendar year on the learning avenues they prefer, ensuring an engaging delivery method.

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