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Why Developing a Workplace Learning Culture Helps Your Business Get Ahead In a Post-Pandemic World

Learn why your organisation can’t afford to overlook the importance of promoting continuous learning in your workforce to future-proof business growth.

In an era where job offers outnumber the supply of highly skilled talent available to fill them, creating and implementing a robust learning culture in the workplace is a must for companies wanting to retain their top employees and support business growth – even in uncertain times.

What Is a Learning Culture in the Workplace?

A workplace learning culture is a collection of organisational practices, processes and values that encourage employees to develop knowledge and competence. In other words, an organisation that has implemented a strong learning culture is one that is actively promoting continuous learning and development, giving employees opportunities to grow within the company, acquire and perfect new skills and put them to work in meaningful and purposeful ways.

Why Is a Learning Culture Important for an Organisation?

A research study by Gallup revealed that 87% of millennials rank professional growth and development opportunities as a top priority. Gallup’s and other findings show that employees in pro-learning workplaces are more likely to feel motivated, engaged and personally invested in the success of their companies.

Companies that promote a strong workplace learning culture are those that provide employees with opportunities to grow beyond the expected nature and scope of their position – whether that be professionally or personally. Said employees understand the importance of their place in the organisation, as well as how further learning can take them even further. On the other hand, employees who feel they have no space to grow may become demotivated and disengaged, seeking better opportunities elsewhere.

By producing higher retention rates, a workplace learning culture therefore dramatically reduces costs on sourcing new talent and rehiring. At a rate of up to $40,000 total cost of replacing a full-time employee, estimated by Oxford Economics, staff turnover can quickly blow out budgets or eat into margins, additionally to losing organizational knowledge and disrupting team dynamics, projects and relationships.

Companies that fail to continuously develop the skills and abilities of their employees are at risk of being outpaced and outperformed by their competition. The half-life of skills is rapidly declining in the digital age, so it’s crucial to keep your employees up to date with the latest technological advancements in your industry to ensure you don’t fall behind. Retraining and reskilling are two of the most important ways a culture of learning can safeguard the future of a business.

McKinsley & Co. mention that “high-performing companies promote a mindset of continuous learning that encourages and supports people to adapt and reinvent themselves to meet shifting needs''. The pandemic has brought an entirely new set of challenges requiring organisations to be flexible and adapt to the new reality, and that requires a growth mindset both from leaders and from the rest of the workforce.

By treating professional learning as a strategic asset rather than an expense or a distraction from work, companies will be able to build agile workforces capable of learning new skills whenever the need arises. When unfavourable market conditions call for innovation, companies with a strong learning culture are likely to be the ones who are able to navigate rough waters and adapt to new challenges, rather than companies who did not prioritize ongoing professional development and lost talent along the way.

How to Develop a Learning Culture at Work

The most critical factor in becoming a learning organisation is to ensure people managers have the desire and the knowhow to inspire their employees. Organisations who want to succeed in the 21st century need 21st-century-managers. Adopting a coaching mindset is the best way to achieve this. A ‘coaching manager’ has two main priorities:

  1. developing their team, and

  2. getting the best performance out of them.

Providing opportunities for professional learning (and creating an environment in which employees feel safe to ask questions) encourages both, development and engagement. And continuous, relevant and helpful feedback is what employees need to reach their full potential.

When managers adopt a coaching mindset on a long-term basis, the benefits for employees and the company as a whole are more substantial and long-lasting. Continuous coaching focuses not only on near-term skill needs (i.e. learning how to use new software), but on workers’ ability to meet and even stay ahead of industry standards. A culture of learning encourages employees to foresee and prepare themselves for change, fostering long-term organizational resilience in even the most unpredictable business environments.

To unlock their team’s true potential, people managers should be asked to promote continuous learning through:

  1. Skill gap analyses to understand the team’s strengths and development needs.

  2. Individual skills-based learning plans with quarterly goals to develop skills in lacking areas.

  3. Actively helping employees to improve with skills.

  4. Celebrating employees who improve their skills.

Following this iterative process will ensure that every team member is focused on developing the right skills and adapting to the ever-changing needs of the business world. Over time, the process becomes second nature. Learning is seen as a culture rather than a task – one that motivates your employees and future-proofs your workforce.

Many companies make the mistake of limiting directed skill development to middle and upper management, but doing so may be a missed opportunity to enrich and strengthen the workforce from the ground up. With advances in technology and solutions that spread the coaching effort across managers, peers and external experts, coaching for the entire workforce has become accessible and affordable for any company.


In summary, a company-initiated and team-led learning culture is a great way to equip your workforce with the tools they need to ‘learn how to learn’. This makes them able to meet new challenges and also keeps them satisfied and engaged in their jobs. As a result, implementing a well-rounded learning culture in the workplace may be what separates companies that will thrive in the post-pandemic world to those who will be left in the dust.

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