Have you noticed that over the past year, conversations around major incidents of unconscious bias and sexual harassment have almost always included learning as part of the solution?
It's more important than ever to create a culture of learning within our workplaces, because only through a culture of learning can we adopt new mindsets, behaviors and skills that make workplaces inclusive for everyone. And who better than learning practitioners to lead this charge within their organizations?
There have been countless articles reporting the same thing: employees expect learning as part of their daily jobs. And as learning practitioners, we need to embrace this opportunity and truly elevate ourselves into a strategic position within the company.
Embracing this opportunity, however, can be challenging. I get it. I've been in your shoes. I've previously been an L&D practitioner, a learning consultant and have built and delivered courses for global organizations.
Whatever challenges you have with creating a culture of learning, I've likely have them, too. Here's what I've learned along the way:
Get Out of Your Own Way
Sometimes we, as L&D practitioners, can be our own worst enemy. Historically, learning practitioners have rooted our value-add in the complex learning programs we've built for our organizations. Yet those programs are often misguided—we over-architect and over complicate them, which alienates our employees and complicates our ability to gain strategic buy-in. Instead, we need to focus on creating intuitive and simple learning programs.
Learning programs shouldn't focus on the theory of learning, but the practical implementations for employees. Remember, learning builds trust among employees, so build programs with your employees in mind and focus on their needs. As much as we'd like to think that people are motivated to learn because they are told to, or even expect it as part of their jobs, we still need to make content relevant to them. The content within our learning programs should allow every employee to find meaning and tie the ideas presented to pre-existing knowledge, which will drive natural behavioral change.
At the end of the day, to truly create a learning culture, we need to get out of our own way and focus on simple learning. We need to realize that our value-add isn't creating programs; it's enabling people to achieve business goals.
Think practically about what works, and what drives business goals: This is ruthless relevance. Let it be your north star as you build programs to support the organization. In business, we don't have the luxury of learning for the sake of learning. We learn to grow and be agile.
Modern Content for a Modern Workforce
Learning content isn't what it used to be. While I cannot say that the days of cheesy content are fully gone, modern learning approaches are quickly becoming the norm.
From a quick Google search to watching a three-minute YouTube video to attending a webinar, there is learning content everywhere. According to Google, there are 500 million views of learning-related content and one million learning videos shared on YouTube every day. We must act as curators in addition to content creators. We must help our people by sourcing the best content that aligns to our goals. This means ensuring that the content we invest in is high-quality, engaging, insightful and easily consumed. We are serving a sophisticated population of content consumers.
One way to help ensure you're creating modern content is to use a modern process. Implement an agile framework that has been tested and validated. Rather than over-architecting another learning program, create short-form content that can be adjusted after deployment. The goal here is speed. Identify a viable product, deploy it and build in feedback loops as well as review cycles to improve it on the fly.
Give People the Learning They Crave
Keep in mind, high viewership of virtual content isn't a threat to formal L&D—it's a call to action and a model we should understand and utilize to build engaging content and foster a learning culture.
Employees want an opportunity to learn. This is our chance to help them thrive and grow. So, let's focus on creating a learning culture that fosters a growth mindset.
Photo: Creative Commons
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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