As we get ready to ring in the New Year, it's that time of year when we also start thinking about what resolutions we want to tackle. For many, professional growth and development top the list. The start of a new year is also a great time for learning leaders to reassess what they can do to help encourage and facilitate a culture of continuous learning within their organizations.
Building an organizational culture of learning benefits both employees and businesses. According to a Bersin & Associates study, companies with strong learning cultures experience greater employee productivity and market share. These companies also have a competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent. So what are some simple yet effective steps learning leaders can take to help create a culture of learning?
Here are Six Ways to Foster a Culture of Learning:
1. Secure Executive Buy-In
In companies with strong learning cultures, executives are dedicated to learning. They lead by example and regularly communicate their ongoing commitment to employees' professional growth and development.
2. Make First Impressions Count
Onboarding shouldn't end at filling out the W2. New hires will form opinions within the first few days and weeks on the job about your organization's learning culture and the value that is placed on learning. Ensure you have a robust onboarding program that introduces new hires to and is strongly reflective of your organization's commitment to learning.
3. Facilitate Informal Learning
It's important to remember that the informal, collaborative learning that happens every day amongst colleagues is just as valuable as your formal learning programs. People learn by asking and answering questions, sharing experiences and referencing resources as they need them. These actions are known as collaborative learning, and there are many small, easy steps learning professionals can take to help encourage this type of learning.
4. Tie Learning to Performance
Is there anything more frustrating for an employee than receiving a performance review with areas for improvement noted, but not having access to the resources they need to close those skill gaps? By linking employee performance to learning, organizations can support employee development while also benefiting from a more competent, skilled workforce. If an employee needs to improve his or her technical knowledge of your company's products, for example, a manager can easily assign and track completion of relevant training courses within a learning management system (LMS).
5. Make Content Easier to Find, Access and Use
Great content is critical, but so is its format and method of delivery. The modern worker demands the flexibility that comes with having learning available anytime, anywhere and from any device. Millennials-who will make up 75 percent of the workforce within just 15 years-are the most technologically connected generation ever and expect rapid access to information. Investing in quality content from a content provider such as OpenSesame or Lynda.com and integrating it with your LMS ensures employees have on-demand access to the information they need to do their jobs. Employees are also much more likely to embrace and adopt a culture of continuous learning when learning content is mobile-friendly and accessible 24/7.
6. Demonstrate the Business Impact of Learning
When senior leaders and managers can see the impact of learning on performance, they are more likely to promote ongoing learning and development within their teams. Learning leaders should continually track and refine metrics for their learning programs, and regularly report out on the bottom-line impact of these programs to executives. While there is no universal set of metrics that will apply to every learning program, key metrics that can help you prove the business impact of your L&D investments may include engagement levels, attrition rates, time to competency for new hires and time to market for new products and services.
While transforming an organization's learning culture doesn't happen overnight, companies that move down that path stand to reap big benefits. As Bersin & Associates notes, "Choosing to build a strong learning culture is a business strategy, not just a training and HR strategy. Its impact on the business is significant and measurable." By taking these steps, you will be well on your way to creating a high-impact learning culture!
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Ten Dad-Friendly Workplaces
When we talk about the quest to "have it all," it's almost always in reference to working women trying to balance a stressful 9-to-5 with the equally difficult demands of family. To be sure, women face distinct challenges in the workplace and high expectations at home. But this Father's Day, let's not forget that dads are increasingly juggling work and home life, too. Single fatherhood is becoming more common in the US—a 2013 Pew report found that a record 8 percent of families with children were headed by a single dad—and 60 percent of households with children are dual-income as of 2014, putting added pressure on both working parents. While policies in the US do not mandate paid family leave of any kind—unlike parent-topia Sweden, which offers 16 months of paid parental leave and three months specifically for paternity leave—many companies are now thinking about how they can help their workers be "Employee of the Year," without sacrificing their "Dad of the Year" trophy. Here are ten excellent companies for working dads, based on a new report from parenting resource website Fatherly. 1. Google Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Number Of Employees: 53,600 Paid Paternity Leave: 7 weeks (12 weeks for primary caregiver) Industry: Tech Dad-friendly Policy Highlight: When you work with Google, your family is part of the family—really. If an employee passes away, the company provides his/her spouse with 50 percent of their salary for 10 years and immediately vested stock options, and children receive $1,000 a month until they turn 19 (or 23 if they're a student). 2. Facebook Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Menlo Park, CA Number Of Employees: 10,082 Paid Paternity Leave: 17 weeks Industry: Tech Policy Highlight: Procreating pays off. Facebook gives new parents a $4,000 "new child benefit," along with subsidized day care. Not to mention the $20,000 worth of supplemental insurance coverage for fertility and family planning treatments. 3. Bank of America Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Charlotte, NC Number Of Employees: 220,000 Paid Parental Leave: 12 weeks Industry: Finance Policy Highlight: Bank of America's twelve weeks of paid paternity leave is on par with countries likeIceland. Not too shabby. And, if you can handle the pay break, the company also allows for an additional 14 weeks of unpaid leave. 4. Patagonia Photo: Shutterstock Headquarters: Ventura, CA Number Of Employees: 2,000 Paid Paternity Leave: 8 weeks Industry: Retail Policy Highlight: Working parents don't have to stray far from their kids as Patagonia provides on-site child care for kids up to nine years old. The famously laid-back company will also provide afternoon transportation from local schools back to the office babysitter. 5. State Street Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Boston, MA Number Of Employees: 29,530 Paid Paternity Leave: 4 weeks Industry: Finance Policy Highlight: Flexible work arrangements are a must for the busy working dad (or mom). State Street's program helps take the stress out of setting up some work-from-home time by requiring their managers to approach their employees about flexible work options. 6. Genentech Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: San Francisco, CA Number Of Employees: 14,000 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Biotech Policy Highlight: Along with dedicated paid paternity time, Genentech also offers a sabbatical program for long-term employees. Every six years, you earn six months of time off—perfect for a long summer trip with the kids. 7. LinkedIn Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Mountain View, CA Number Of Employees: 6,800 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Tech Policy Highlight: LinkedIn likes to encourage employees to think outside their cubicle and, in addition to "special projects" time once a month, you will get a $5,000 stipend for job-related education expenses. Maybe "Childcare 101" would qualify? 8. Arnold & Porter LLP Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Washington D.C. Number Of Employees: 1,284 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks (18 for primary caregiver) Industry: Legal Policy Highlights: If your spouse or partner is gainfully employed and you'd like to trade some of those work hours for family time, Arnold and Porter allows employees working at least 25 hours to qualify for benefits. The firm even has an expert panel on hand to help their lawyers make the switch to part-time. 9. Roche Diagnostics Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: Indianapolis, IN (North American HQ) Number Of Employees: 4,500 Paid Paternity Leave: 6 weeks Industry: Healthcare Policy Highlight: Roche employees have plenty of opportunities to teach Junior essential life lessons like how to swing a bat or grow a juicy tomato. The company spends $35,000 annually on sponsored extracurriculars like community sports leagues, and also offers an on-site employee produce garden. 10. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Photo: Creative Commons Headquarters: New York, NY Number Of Employees: 41,000 (U.S.) Paid Parental Leave: 6 weeks (plus an additional 2 weeks if have or adopt more than one kid) Industry: Professional Services Policy Highlight: Another company that values ad-hoc work schedules, PwC allows employees work-from-home options as well as ""Flex Days." So if you can cram 40 hours of work into less than five days and clear your schedule, you could end up with more frequent three-day weekends and more time with the kids. Photo: Shutterstock