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Creating a Culture of Learning in the Workplace [Article]

Rachel Garcia Acevedo
Published: February 27, 2023

What’s a culture of learning?

A culture of learning is a healthy environment that places importance on and encourages new information and skills as a means of self-improvement. It helps employees continuously seek, share, and apply new knowledge and skills they need to perform at their best, better satisfy the customers, and help the organization.

It is where employees continuously seek, share, and apply new knowledge and skills they need to perform at their best, better satisfy the customers, and help the organization grow. Treehouse does this by encouraging their team to start a Techdegree, hosting a variety of educational meetings, encouraging employees to get certificates, trying new things, and having access to CRM training.

Benefits of a culture of learning

  • It helps employees at adopting new skills and identifies and solve problems more effectively
  • It helps employees stay up to date with the latest trends in their field
  • It encourages employees to learn outside of their fields
  • A learning culture promotes productivity and retention as well as a growth mindset
  • It promotes a sense of unity within the organization
  • Long-term organizational ROI is huge

How to create an effective customer learning culture

Analyze your current learning culture

Do you have a current culture of learning established at the moment? If you do take a step back and ask yourself what’s working and what isn’t. Make a list of the pros and cons of the current learning culture. What have your employees learned with this current learning culture and do they feel it’s useful to them?

Analyze multiple areas within your organization at different stages. Does onboarding go smoothly or can you make it better? Your employees should feel welcomed and encouraged to learn from the start.

At Treehouse we take onboarding slowly and make sure our employees have time to adapt. From the start, we encourage them to learn not just things within their role but anything that could benefit their skill set.

Get to know your Organization

Ask for feedback! Don’t just assume what your employees want and need, talk to them. Get to know the challenges and struggles faced by the roles within your organization. Keep doing what works and write out an action plan for what doesn’t. Once you’ve established what your organization wants, figure out how to best provide it in the most consistent and efficient way. One of the ways Treehouse gets feedback is by surveys throughout the year. These are anonymous and make the employees feel safe and heard. Creating an inviting environment by letting your employees speak their minds and enough encouragement to try their ideas also works wonders.

Plan out what you want your employees to learn

Now you need to make an action plan. After figuring out what your organization wants and needs, create a plan to give it to them. This could include the resources you’ll be needing like equipment, software, courses, and more. Ask yourself what the best options are and do some research.

Figure out the budget you’ll have to spend on this that way there’s no promising something you can’t deliver.

Map out what you expect your team to learn and by when. Giving them guidance but not micromanaging their learning process. Whether you use deadlines or not is up to you, keeping in mind the learning should feel encouraged but not forced.

Take into account the ways and methods that your team works best with when it comes to learning. This will take some experimenting via trial and error.

Lead by example

As cliche as it may sound, great leaders don’t tell people what to do. They show them how to do it. Find something you want to sharpen your skills on or even start learning a completely new skill. Your schedule may be full but so are theirs. Making time shows that you’re putting your learning as a priority and practicing what you preach. It has been observed time and time again that organizations do better and have stronger teams with someone in charge using this leadership style.

Taking into account that you will also be learning will help you pick the right tool for the job. Though Treehouse has mostly coding-related content we also have business, security, and quality assurance courses which may appeal more to those in management.

Make it easy for them with accessible training

This part should be included in your action planning step. Your team should feel confident about diving into new learning materials. Make sure they have proper training on the tools the organization plans on using or that the learning platform is user-friendly. Learning in itself can be daunting, don’t make it harder for them to get started by having it be even more intimidating. After all, getting started is usually the hardest part.

Start learning with the right foot forward

Your culture of learning should be clear from the start. From the moment candidates walk through the interview doors they should feel like they’re in an organization that encourages growth. This should carry on throughout the onboarding process. If you can make the onboarding process an essential part of your learning culture. You may want to add a part within onboarding that encourages learning outside of work or outside of your role. Employees should have no doubt that they aren’t just here to work, but to learn.

Make sure your employees set aside time to learn on their calendars

Arguably one of the most, if not the most important, make sure your employees have time set aside on their calendars. All of the above is great, but if your employees don’t even remember to dedicate time every day to learning then what’s the point? We live in a world where if it’s not in your calendar, it doesn’t exist.

Even if it’s just 15 minutes you should make sure all your employees add time somewhere during their day to stop and learn. Doing this not only reminds them but helps them get into the habit of learning every day. Consistency is one of the hardest things to promote besides remembering in the first place.

Set aside time to get feedback and experiment

Communication is key here. Talk to them about what they want and need but don’t just leave it at that. Ask them how it’s going! Ask them about the things they’ve been learning and how it’s been helping their work performance.

Your managers should be doing 1 on 1s with your employees and reporting back to you on how they’re feeling and what they’re learning. This not only gives you the feedback to know what’s working and what isn’t but it also gives your employees the extra push of accountability we all need sometimes.

Treehouse makes this feedback interchange easier by providing you with monitoring and reporting features. As you can see below, you have a real-time learning activity overview. You can also set up automatic reports that get sent to your email on a weekly or monthly basis.

Make it social

Get creative and have your employees socialize while learning. No one likes sitting alone in a dark room and reading stuff. Come up with a few ideas and mix it up to keep them interested.

If you’re a fully remote organization, try doing a zoom happy hour where everyone talks about what new things they’ve learned. Another thing you can do is a “Lunch and Learn” once a week where you all go over what you’ve learned over lunch. At Treehouse we do this on Thursdays. Not only is it a great way to promote team bonding and increase team-building skills but it’s a less formal way of keeping everyone accountable. Remember learning shouldn’t feel like a chore, adding a social component helps with keeping everyone motivated.

Make it fun

Some employees will need extra motivation. So the best way is to make it fun. Learning is always fun but not everyone sees it this way. Think outside the box and turn it into a game or have cool incentives.

You could make it a competition and see who can learn the most within a week. A great example of this is Treehouse’s leaderboard feature that lets you set an organizational goal. The leaderboard keeps track of all the points, badges, challenges, videos, and quizzes earned by everyone on your team. You can see a picture of it below. See who can get the most points!

You could also keep track of learning activity which you can do with Treehouse’s automated activity reports, and incentivize the most consistent learner with some silly company merch, a small bonus, or a free lunch.

Most importantly go to your team and ask them what they think would make it fun. One of the things we do at Treehouse is use a spinning wheel, like the one in “Wheel of fortune” with silly prizes and rewards added by employees when they hit a goal.

Keep it going and be consistent

One of the biggest problems with creating a culture of learning is keeping it consistent. Organizations start with some courses or materials and then forget to update them Before you know it, it’s been 6 months without any actual learning and it’s even hard to get back into the swing of things.

With Treehouse it’s easy because we have thousands of hours of content. So at this point, it’s just making sure your employees have reminders and know what they want to learn. We’re always adding new stuff so running out of learning material shouldn’t be a problem either.

To Summarize

Creating a culture of learning within an organization is no easy task, but having a work environment where people feel encouraged to learn has more pros than cons. Remember you reap what you sow. Show your employees you care about their growth by investing in them with Treehouse. Your team will come out of it learning how to code or touching up on already existing skills. With an extensive library that has thousands of hours’ worth of content, not only will your employees learn, they’ll be able to build habits that last long-term. Sign up for a free trial today!

To sum it all up, I’d like to leave you with this quote by Henry Ford “The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.”

Happy learning!