How organisations can build a culture of learning

Office employee
Date Published


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4 mins read


Costi Karayannis

Organisations need to learn more than ever as they deal with existential crises, changes in customer demand and the march towards Industry 4.0.

Our customers regularly ask how they can transform to become a true learning organisation, recognising that embedding a systemic learning culture can genuinely help them to navigate this path.

Organisations need a mindset change in the way they think about learning

A culture of learning encourages employees to own and drive their own learning agenda in line with organisational goals. To achieve this, we need a mindset change in how we think about learning. Whilst we will always need to develop individual competency, we often forget about the importance of the learning ecosystem which can effectively nudge learners in the right direction.

Organisations must therefore strive to embed a culture of learning within their workforce — creating an environment in which people are hungry to learn new skills, are curious about the world around them, and are excited about how learning can enable their future, as yet unknown careers. In such a culture, learning is seen as part of a journey, something in which all employees participate as part of their daily activities, and something that is championed and celebrated at all levels. Learning is self-driven and highly personalised — so people can learn in the most suitable and engaging way for them — but it also delivers real, measurable commercial value.

Every organisation is different, but there are specific levers learning teams can pull in order to make the transformation from where they are now to where they want to be. A future which ensures the organisation has the right skills and capabilities aligned to its broader business aspirations.

One way this can be done is by creating learning activities via Josh Bersin’s now famous ‘in the flow of work’, where learning is integrated seamlessly with the regular work schedule, available on demand and in bite sized chunks. Equally, organisations need to hire more explicitly for people with a great capacity and ability to learn. Having said this, with an intensifying 'war for talent', it's no longer enough for businesses to rely on a 'buy' model. Instead, as skills demands continue to change, they must turn their attention to the mechanism by which they can quickly upskill and reskill existing colleagues.

Besides acknowledging the complexity of an uncertain future skills landscape (many of the roles of the future don't exist today), there is an added responsibility to recognise that skills alone are not enough, and that those organisations that wish to be truly successful also need to take ownership of the cultures and the behaviours that their environments encourage. Having a clearly mapped out learner journey for the transition from one role to another forms part of the roadmap of change. 

Digital learning enabled by the appropriate technology is here to stay, but we need to crack how to harness experiential learning

Smart organisations are enabling their employees to learn everywhere – not just in the classroom – and they’re using technology to do it. That means creating a culture of learning where every individual is not only motivated to develop but has the resources they need to do so in the moment.

A learning eco-system will feature a well-structured stack of LMS’s, LXP’s, content management systems, and clear processes, all working to create simple access to quality learning content.  Creating this relies on the organisation mapping out how learning will be accessed and consumed, utilising the most appropriate technologies which contribute towards ease of access and data capture.

At its best, a learning organisation must develop a learning eco-system where learning is wrapped up through technology and quality service provision. Inside this wrapper must sit high quality content that is relevant and personalised. Employees increasingly expect accessible, always-on learning experiences that can deliver personalised and self-directed development. This must be delivered in the flow of work using the right modality. Our view is that a good service provider will be invisible to your learners and allows your learning to become a seamless part of the work schedule.

We have all experienced a massive uptick in e-learning during the pandemic. This is likely to be a structural change that is here to stay. But it still needs to work alongside face to face learning and other interventions which offer experiential and practical benefit. How organisations blend their learning is now becoming more important than ever. Focus needs to be on both individual learning strategies and how we blend digital and experiential learning programmes to bring individuals together to form high performing teams – sometimes referred to as collective learning strategies.

There certainly isn’t one rule that fits all nor is there a pre-determined roadmap – but by incorporating strategically aligned learning eco-systems and tools, employees will be inclined to learn more frequently, thereby enhancing the organisation’s learning culture.

For those organisations that get it right and can embed a positive and inclusive culture of learning within their workforce over the next few years, the potential is huge. Not only will they develop the cutting-edge skills they need to compete and win in the future, but they will also create an agile organisation which can adapt to whatever the world throws them.

Written by


Costi Karayannis

Managing Director of Capita Learning

Costi has a wealth of experience across the world of learning & education. His background includes leading successful learning transformations across the shipping, energy, engineering, transport, and military sectors.