How to create a learning culture in your team

Five steps to make L&D really work

Written by Alastair Roy
Published 14 September 2020
How to create a learning culture in your team

As we head into the last quarter of the year, many of us are scrambling to complete our personal development plans.

But L&D shouldn’t be a chore or tick box exercise. Done right, learning drives employee engagement and business. 
Organizations with switched on learners are 12% more likely to increase productivity, 24% more likely to develop a better-qualified workforce, and 28% more likely to respond faster to changing market conditions.
Our latest research report also reveals a direct link between learning and your likelihood to innovate, dominate, or be left behind. To succeed, you need to lose the last-ditch L&D efforts and create a culture of ongoing learning. Here are some tips to get you started.


1. Put learning into context

How often do you hear people complain they don’t have time for personal development? But our research reveals the issue isn’t lack of time, but the perception that L&D activities are irrelevant.

This could be down to the fact that just 52% of leaders say their team understands the strategic goals of the business. A lack of clarity around your organization’s vision makes it harder for people to see the value of learning activities.

As Helen Grysztar, Head of Learning and Development at Opel Vauxhall Finance, says, “They all need to see, feel, understand, the value [learning] brings to them and therefore the business.” To get this buy-in, you can:

  • Create a team charter or roadmap that defines the purpose of your team and how it contributes to the vision and mission of your organization.
  • Use your regular one-on-ones with team members to show how their work fits into the bigger picture. Together, you can identify skills to develop to hit team and company goals.
  • Help individuals set personal objectives that meet these goals. They should also be challenging so people can stretch their responsibilities.

2. Involve your learners

Now people know the mission of your team, listen to what and how they’d like to learn to hit these goals.

If your employee prefers online learning, for example, work with them to create what that will look like. Do they want an e-learning course? A virtual class? Access to on-demand learning resources? Or a blend of all these?

Our research found that 71% of leaders of “high-impact learning cultures” involve learners at the design stage of solutions. Do that and you’ll create more relevant resources, show you’re invested in people, and encourage them to take control of their own development.


3. Make learning part of the day-to-day

Many of us think of learning as something you do away from the job – in a classroom or looking through resources on your downtime.
But Charles Jennings from the 70:20:10 Institute argues that learning has its “greatest impact… in the daily flow of work.” This is backed up by the Research Center for Education and Labor Market which found that 96% of time spent learning occurs in the daily flow of work.
In a typical day, learning can look like:
  • Teams collaborating and sharing knowledge, information and skills face-to-face or online.
  • Projects that bring people from across your organization to work together and learn from each other.
  • A safe environment to share ideas, take risks and learn from mistakes.
  • Mentors and buddies passing on the skills and behaviors your company values most.
  • Giving people easy access to digital resources at the point of need.

4. Nudge your learners

Making learning part of the routine will help your team take their own L&D initiatives. But they’ll still look to you. 42% of learners say they’re most likely to be influenced by a leader to learn. To help support people, you can:
  • Curate learning resources based on the skill gaps and interests you uncover from your regular one-on-ones.
  • Celebrate achievements and recognize good performance at every opportunity. Do that and you’ll motivate people to find ways to continually develop themselves.
  • Delegate to give team members opportunities to grow. You'll also increase their confidence, motivation, and productivity levels. And empower them to take initiative.

With nudges like these, you can encourage learners to take control of their own learning journeys.


5. Track and refine your L&D efforts

To understand if your L&D activities are working, and change tack to meet changing business priorities, you should track progress.
At a team level, feedback from you and between team members reveals blind spots and lets people learn from each other. You can also seek 360 feedback from your team and wider organization to see how well you’re supporting team members’ development.

In our research, 68% of high-impact learning cultures use performance data to measure the impact of L&D programs. To join them, you can use a benchmarking tool like the Learning Health Check to compare and improve on performance metrics.



When you create a compelling company vision, involve people in what and how they’ll learn, and show how their new skills help hit goals, you’ll empower your team members to own their development journey.
Do that, and as Grysztar says, you’ll “create commitment to ongoing learning, not compliance!”
Source: Back to the Future: Why tomorrow's workforce needs a learning culture. Available to download here.


About the author

Alastair Roy

Alastair Roy

Content Editor/Writer
Alastair brings 15 years' experience writing, editing and prodding at content. During that time, he’s picked up copywriting, content marketing and video editing skills. Along with two shirts and about a stone in weight. At Emerald Works, he enjoys creating resources that help people better themselves.

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