Why learning culture is so important

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Written by Stephanie Morgan on 30 January 2018

I was reading an article recently which outlined some alarming news about the state of onboarding in the workplace. A survey found that more than a third of office workers have had a 'poor experience' when starting a new role – which had led to one-fifth of those changing their minds about the job and leaving.

There’s no doubt that this should be a wake-up call for L&D when it comes to onboarding, but it also got me thinking about the role we play throughout our people’s career journeys and how learning culture affects this. When L&D isn’t engaging learners from day one, we’re missing our first opportunity to encourage a pull learning culture.

But why does this really matter? We already know that a great learning culture creates a hunger for development, but is that really enough? Let’s take a look at why an effective learning culture really is important in the modern workplace.

Keeps talented, ambitious people on side

When it comes to attracting and retaining talent, culture is one of the main drivers - whilst we in L&D have known how important this is for a long time, it’s no longer as simple as it used to be.

CIPD’s Resourcing and Talent Planning 2017 survey showed that the median rate of staff turnover has increased in the past 12 months and currently sits at 16.5%. It also showed that the most popular step taken to improve staff retention was through increasing learning and development opportunities (57%).

Our most driven team members are the ones who want to deliver outstanding results, and are savvy enough to know how to locate opportunities, set goals and develop themselves towards these.

This will be especially crucial for younger generations, where pay is no longer the biggest motivation when taking on a new role. For these, a sense of alignment with their values and support for their ambitions are the things that create loyalty to an organisation.

Ambitious individuals want to work for a company that provides them with opportunities to learn and grow, and where they feel that the organisation’s mission and ethos aligns with their own. This is where a great learning culture comes in. And showing them that they’ve made the right decision from day one is crucial to delivering the culture they expect. 

Your learning strategy should keep this in mind throughout your peoples’ time with your organisation – catering for their motivations at every moment of need, helping create their learning journeys, and being flexible enough to adapt to their modern lifestyles and the ways they want to learn.

Promotes a mindset of high performance

It’s no secret that a culture of learning creates motivated, high-performing teams. Our most driven team members are the ones who want to deliver outstanding results, and are savvy enough to know how to locate opportunities, set goals and develop themselves towards these.

Our people are becoming more career-conscious, and we in L&D are not yet fully taking advantage of this. Let’s capitalise on this and use these changing attitudes to hook in those who aspire to excel and further themselves.

By encouraging people to focus on their development and take charge, but also by showing interest and investment in them and their careers, we can support this mindset. And if our self-directed learners are inspired to excel, L&D and the wider business will benefit hugely from their passion, engagement and drive to succeed.

Aligns learning with business objectives

All L&D departments are working hard to align their strategies with business objectives, and with only 7% of L&D professionals evaluating the impact of learning initiatives on the wider business, there is still a lot of work to be done.

That’s where learning culture comes in. If we have a positive culture, one where our people are pulling learning with the desire to be high performing team members who are evolving and developing, we will see an increase in learning uptake and application. And this growth might be exponential for some organisations.

Once we have achieved this culture, we will be better positioned to align learning with the business objectives. Our people will be more responsive to learning opportunities, they will see the benefits of their development and will be driven to achieve success in their roles and wider teams.


All organisations have different cultures, but we all want to see learners who are switched on to learning and developing themselves throughout their careers.

The benefits of this to the wider business can be huge, and when L&D is consistent with learners, from the very beginning of their journeys and again at every stage, getting them bought into and excited by learning opportunities becomes easier.

But we need to take advantage of every opportunity that comes with a new starter – so think about what a learning culture can truly do for your organisation, and how you can create loyal employees from day one. 


About the author

Stephanie Morgan is director of learning solutions at Bray Leino Learning

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