What is a learning culture?
Discuss about the Learning Culture and Psychological Empowerment.
Learning culture is a term used in business world that describes an organisation’s values, practices, conventions, processes, operations etc. that motivate its employees to learn new things in order to develop their knowledge, competencies and level of performance (Newton, et al., 2015). A business organisation that believes in promoting a learning culture gives a lot of priority to training and development programs that can help its employees in learning new things and become more efficient in performing their job duties and responsibilities. A learning culture in an organisation can have a great impact on its overall market position and performance levels (Škerlavaj, et al., 2007).
In simple words, culture is defined as the set of beliefs, morals, ethics, values, etc. that an organisation sticks to in its day-to-day business operations, processes and dealings with all its stakeholders. A learning culture signifies the importance that an organisation attaches to the learning process and the resources which it allocates towards learning new skills and competencies. Learning culture can prove to be an effective key in bridging the gaps between actual performance levels and expected performance levels in a business organisation. On the other hand, lack of a learning culture can make it easier for the employees to develop a comfort zone of their own and they ultimately end up resisting workplace changes that are implemented to cope up with the market trends. Further, the lack of a learning culture also makes it difficult for business organisations to evolve and innovate.
The modern day business world is changing at a very fast pace and it is becoming increasingly difficult for business organisations to cope up with the changing internal and external environment factors, which increases their dependency on their human resources. Human resources are now being considered as one of the most important resources to a business and a lot of importance is being given to the skills and knowledge of the employees (Egan, et al., 2004). Employees with better knowledge and competencies can help a business in achieving market competencies, which is further creating a need of developing learning culture in business organisations. Therefore, most of the top business organisations in the world are laying a huge stress on promoting a learning culture in their offices as it keeps the employees motivated and engaged in their jobs, which further helps in the achievement of organisational goals and objectives.
Promoting a learning culture in business organizations
Learning culture can have a great number of opportunities for business organisations in the modern day world. First and foremost, an organisation culture where learning is given importance will always keep the employees motivated and engaged in their jobs. A learning culture gives them an opportunity to enhance their skills and competencies, which can have a positive impact on their career development path. Thus, the employees engage more in training and development programs, which ultimately helps an organisation in achieving its performance objectives (Boonstra, 2008). Secondly, establishing a learning culture can help business organisations in retaining as well as in attracting a talented pool of employees. Employees attach a lot of value to organisations that can help them in achieving their career goals and tend to work more with such organisations. Thus, it can become easier for a business organisation to become an employer of choice in the market by offering better learning opportunities to its employees while it can also help in bringing down the employee turnover rates to a great extent (Fook, 2016). Thirdly, a learning culture can help an organisation in sharing its performance objectives and establishing a collective vision with its workforce. Through learning programs, it can become easier for business organisations to communicate their performance expectations with the employees.
Promoting a learning culture in a business organisation sounds easy but the cost of establishing a learning culture can be huge from an organisational point of view. First of all, the cost associated with training and development programs can be huge and can have a great impact on the finances of a company (Smerek, 2017). A learning culture demands regular training and development programs for employees, which can prove to be expensive for a business. Secondly, regularly indulging in learning programs can also be time consuming and business organisations can feel shortage of human resources while they are undergoing training or development (Islam, et al., 2016). Thirdly, a lot of organisations are able to implement a learning culture where the employees are motivated to learn new skills and competencies in order to become innovative and creative whereas they are unable to empower the employees to implement their ideas. Lastly, establishing a learning culture can prove to be a great difficulty if an organisation’s stakeholders have a tendency to resist workplace changes.
As discussed above, the business world is tough and only the toughest of all can survive in the market for long. Not long ago, Nokia was a global leader in the field of mobile phones. The company enjoyed a loyal customer base and an invincible reputation in the global market. Nokia smartphones were durable and had all the features that were required by the customers but ultimately, the company lost all its market share to Apple because of its inability to learn, grow and innovate. On the other hand, Apple, the global leader as of today, is a company that was able to dominate Nokia because of its ability to learn, grow and innovate and even after so many years, Apple still gives a lot of priority to learning, which helps it in retaining its market position.
Benefits of a learning culture
Apple is one of those companies that is totally dependent on the ability of its employees to innovate and create new products. As a result, the company lays a great deal of stress on learning as it helps it employees in becoming more competitive and efficient. The ability of the company to implement a learning culture and continuously evolving on the basis of its learning has been one of the key factors in its success. Apple has based its selection process on the skills, knowledge and creative abilities of the employees (Meyer, 2017). The company’s culture is made highly innovative by motivating the employees to undergo training and development programs and to contribute innovative ideas to the firm’s development process. Apple makes a lot of investment in the training and development of its employees (Sayem, n.d.). The company has launched Supplier Employee Education and Development (SEED) program and also has tie ups with Chinese universities from where its employees can earn associate degrees. The company also believes in training employees at every level of the hierarchy, which further strengthens its learning culture (Schilling & Kluge, 2009). The company also audits all its training and development programs, in order to measure the change in performance levels and the skills learned.
Though Apple has a strong learning culture that has been implemented in the roots of its organisation culture, there is still a scope of a little improvement. Some strategies that can help Apple in improving its learning culture are discussed below:
First of all, the company should adopt a policy of information two ways. Under this policy, important information should be shared with employees only when the time is right so that it remains stuck in their mind. Further, to enhance learning and empowerment, appropriate resources should be made available to the employees rather than constant supervision so that they can get an opportunity to innovate and be creative.
Secondly, the company can foster an environment where sharing is caring and learning. The employees should feel free to share their ideas and no one should ever be made to feel dumb for being inquisitive (Winkler & Fyffe, 2016). The company can implement information sharing and discussion sessions where the employees can freely share their ideas with each other and can also form teams to take up new projects.
Last, but not the least, one of the most important steps towards strengthening of a learning culture is to motivate the employees to learn from failures. Failures should not be a reason for demotivation, rather, they should be considered as a source of learning that no training or development program can teach (Gutierrez, 2016). The employees should be motivated to try new things, be creative and innovative and to learn from the mistakes that they commit in this process. The leaders of the organisation should motivate the employees to pick themselves back up instead of thrashing them in case of a failure.
Fostering a learning culture in the culture of an organisation is not an easy task but the benefits associated with an effective learning culture makes all the efforts worth it. Business organisations should continuously learn from their failures because learning is the key to evolution and evolution in the business world can lead to success. Therefore, it is important to deeply root learning in the core culture of an organisation so that the organisation on the whole can learn new things, become more competitive and can achieve its organisational goals and objectives.
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