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How to Incorporate a Systemic, Digital Learning Culture in Your Organization

Employee development has gotten the spotlight in recent corporate culture conversations due to the growing importance of technical skills, and their short turnover time. Creating a learning culture in your organization has become more important in today’s increasingly virtual work environment. However, it will take a systematic approach to enable this kind of business transformation.

Vital Components of the Learning Experience

Learning is most effective when it’s a continuous process. So, the first component of creating a learning culture should be to deploy performance support assets and activities to follow initial formal training events. In order for performance support to be effective, it must be both experiential and consistent.

For on-the-job performance support, experiential learning is the key to connecting learning to performance. Learning activities should be designed to create as much realism as possible so that it more easily applies to the learner’s day-to-day responsibilities. Beyond that, as new hires move from employee onboarding toward competency, repeatedly applying their knowledge and practicing their newly acquired skills will improve knowledge retention over time. Research has found that recency is a strong predictor of recall. So, consider adding refreshers to employee development plans, even if your learners have already reached competency.

Online and Blended Learning

The importance of having digital training resources for performance support efforts cannot be overstated. With eLearning assets, training content delivery is much more scalable than traditional instructor-led training. It’s also more easily accessible with the help of a learning portal or learning management system.

However, eLearning works best when its paired with other training modalities like mentoring or peer cohorts. Pushing training content in different forms within a cohesive curriculum allows employees of different learning styles to absorb information more effectively. These learning experiences should support one another by progressively building upon skills and knowledge.

A Systematic Approach to Creating a Learning Culture

Organizations tend to take on the personality of their leaders. Because of this, an organization’s learning culture needs to start at the top and trickle down from there. That means leaders must act as models, as well as enable their employees to be successful. But, this may not come about without a bit of leadership training.

Senior Leaders

The best strategies for promoting a culture of learning using senior leadership fall into three major categories:

  • Sponsorship means setting aside protected time and budget for employees to focus on learning and developing.
  • Messaging includes all channels through which the value placed upon learning culture is communicated, and the language used to describe those values. Leaders must emphasize the importance of a learning culture for their employees to buy-in.
  • Modeling values within your learning culture will inevitably require leaders to engage in continuing education as well – though the subject matter may vary.

Some quick wins to implement these strategies might include quarterly learning performance meetings, department-wide training activities, or creating incentive programs tied to learning, performance, and evaluations.


Middle managers are crucial because they make the vision for the company actionable. For instance, managers often play the role of mentors through one-on-ones and coaching. At the very least, they have more face-time with their employees, and they can enable learning in a few key ways.

Encouragement and recommendation are the soft skills that will make or break the learning culture of your organization. With a formal training strategy around the guidance managers offer, you can create a scalable framework to personalize learning. Establishing a standard for capturing data within mentoring activities can also go a long way toward increasing content consumption. It adds accountability to informal learning activities that are more difficult to track.


Social learning through engagement with peers tends to happen within small teams, but it becomes more difficult as organizations grow. Beyond that, the information shared between peers may become less cohesive without structure. So, adding structure to social learning by creating peer cohorts will help to keep knowledge consistent. More experienced employees can also act as peer mentors to new hires or employees with poor performance.


Implementing these learning strategies throughout all levels in your organization will empower employees to build a stronger learning culture. With the structure to be more strategic in informal training activities and the accountability that both leaders and peers offer, it will be easier to preserve that culture as well. So, enable employee development as your industry and organization transform. The skilled workforce you create will support organizational success.