As part of our series on employee learning we wanted to take a look at culture. You might have heard about the importance of learning, development and training but how can you make your current business really feel that learning is a priority, especially if in the past it hasn’t been?

1) Create flexible learning plans

Employee engagement is a definite side benefit of leaning and development, but there has to be a real business objective behind any investment. That’s why you need solid learning plans. There’s a real benefit here too. Companies with high-impact learning cultures experience three times greater profit growth than their competitors over a four-year period according to research from Bersin by Deloitte, and close tracking ensures there are minimal gaps in your business skills.

Your plans should take into account what the learning or development activities will achieve for the business as well the learner. As you know, it can’t be a carte blanche ticket to learn about fly fishing, or needlework, or to ‘have a go’ at designing an email campaign if that won’t benefit the business, but can you be flexible? Sparking inspiration might come from something that can’t be measured right away. Set a conversation with parameters – ‘what learning could benefit your job role and the business day to day?’ – but be prepared to invest in bright people with bright ideas.

2) Get managers to ask the right things

You can’t be in on every one to one meeting or development plan so it is a great idea to ensure managers are happy asking key question is every single meeting. This standardises the process and makes everyone comfortable- familiarity with talking about development. Remember to stress that whereas a learning plan looks forward to what is to be achieved, a learning record looks backwards to the past. These are different conversations.

3) Carve out time

We all want more time, but there are a set amount of hours in the day. Some managers might be keen to earmark time for research and training, others will run their employees into the ground if left unattended! Let managers know that senior management or the board encourages time for their staff the spend on learning. Set in a plan for higher management to ask regularly how managers are developing their people and giving employees time and space to invest in learning and development.

4) Spread knowledge with a learning landscape

For someone who has secured learning time, the downside of the opportunity is the pressure they can feel to put the knowledge to good use. The best solution is to ensure immediate information download sessions so that everything is shared – either in a workshop or similar, or to take at least 2 people from the business on the same course. This relieves pressure, opens up more opportunities and doubles the chances of the course being of value in the long run.