Creating a learning culture in your organization is good for the bottom line, according to new research by Bersin & Associates, a research and advisory services firm in enterprise learning, talent management, and talent acquisition. Strong learning cultures—the collective practices that encourage and enable open sharing of information and all forms of employee development— are not dependent on budget and staff resources.
The research shows most companies do not capitalize on this potential advantage—and they should. These practices build trust, encourage reflection, demonstrate learning’s value, enable knowledge sharing, empower employees, and formalize learning as a process.
Based on responses from 426 organizations, the study identified the specific practices that have the greatest business impact, based on business outcomes such as customer input, customer responsiveness, customer satisfaction, innovation, employee productivity, workforce expertise, time-to-market, market share, cost structure, and learning agility.
A. Most of these practices relate to operational practices and processes and are outside the traditional domain of corporate HR and training departments, instead, middle managers and senior leaders are the key;
B. Leaders and managers play a pivotal role in influencing a company’s learning culture; and
C. Most practices focus on informal approaches to learning, further reinforcing the need to expand the concept of learning beyond formal training.
In studying responses, analysts found that organizations with strong learning cultures are:
46% more likely to be strong innovators in their markets;
34% more likely to get to market before their competitors;
18% more likely to currently be a market-share leader in one or more of their markets;
33% more likely to report higher customer satisfaction than other organizations;
39% more likely to report success implementing customer suggestions;
58% more likely to be successful at developing the skills needed for meeting future customer demand.
The five practices which have greatest business impact are:
1. Leaders being open to hearing the truth, including bad news. By far, this practice has greatest business impact.
2. Encouraging employees to ask questions at all levels of the organization. 91% of high- performing organizations indicated strength in this practice.
3. Clearly defining decision- making processes throughout the company. This practice showed a strong positive connection with all 10 business outcomes studied.
4. Assigning tasks or projects to employees beyond their current knowledge or skill level to enhance their development.
5. Giving employees influence over which job tasks are assigned to them. Of the top practices, companies struggle with this one the most. Only 23% identify this practice as a strength.
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