The ability to learn and develop new skills over time is the essential skill of the modern workplace. It’s also beneficial for companies to encourage employees to build this capability in themselves. Trying to hire your way out of a skills gap is expensive. The cost of hiring a new employee ranges between $4,000-$7,000 and filling an open position can take months. 

But encouraging your employees to learn is not the same as developing a culture that actively values learning. You also have to offer employees the time in their work schedules to learn a new skill. To make learning core to the way your organization works, leaders should leverage the following five strategies, based on Udemy VP of Learning, Shelley Osborne’s book and course, The Upskilling Imperative

Preview culture of learning workplace

1. Develop agile learners

The first step to making learning core to the way you work is by developing learning agility in your team. Learning agility simply means having the capacity to figure things out when confronted with an unfamiliar situation. 

A great way to promote learning agility is by regularly reviewing three questions with your employees:

Self-assessments can be difficult for many employees. Guiding employees through these questions allow them to reflect on their own development and have open conversations. 

2. Use feedback to fuel career coaching opportunities

For many of us, the word “feedback” conjures negative connotations. But to achieve a learning culture, you must also establish a feedback culture. Feedback serves as the foundation for employees to understand and identify their learning needs. 

It can be tricky to implement feedback loops. You don’t want people to fear or dismiss feedback. Rather, employees in a feedback culture would ask for and apply feedback constantly. 

The most impactful types of feedback are:

By learning how to properly give and receive feedback with a growth mindset, we become more aware of development opportunities. Leaders must help teams reframe the idea that they’ll hurt a colleague’s feelings if sharing feedback. Managers can lead by example in giving well thought out, constructive feedback to their teams and asking for feedback in return.

3. Use creative techniques to motivate learners

To cut through any resistance to workplace learning, borrow from your marketing team. Employees are busy and need motivation to embrace continuous learning. Give them a reason to pay attention to learning by getting creative. 

Follow this simple framework to get your creative juices flowing:

4. Put learning in the flow of work

You can’t maintain a healthy learning culture if learning is not offered in the flow of work. Here are some suggestions for how you can put learning into the flow of work.

Learners need time and space to learn, access to the right learning environment and resources, and leadership that supports their learning needs.

5. Leaders signal the value of learning

Leadership is the most powerful and impactful lever for spreading a culture of learning. As a leader, you can incorporate learning into everything you do. Here are a few ways leaders can signal the importance of learning:

Cultivate a culture of lifelong learners

When building your culture of learning, keep in mind that learning should be like air — all around you. Sometimes you call attention to it, but most of the time the organization should be sending signals without even realizing it. 

A workplace learning culture propels innovation, bridges skills gaps, and develops more satisfied employees. Before you begin implementing these strategies, evaluate your company’s current learning culture with the Learning Culture Evaluation Workbook