Why And How To Center A Workplace Culture Around Learning And Development


Salvador Ordorica is the CEO of The Spanish Group LLC, a first-class international translation service that translates over 90 languages.

A strong workplace learning culture is one where all members of an organization are motivated to understand the company’s values, procedures and practices, and are encouraged and helped to improve and enhance their personal skill sets.

While many owners and managers see the apparent value in better-trained employees, fewer grasp why offering options for development in a large variety of seemingly unrelated skill sets will help their business.

I want to briefly explain how creating a workplace culture that emphasizes learning and skill development can be a tremendous boon to your day-to-day productivity and your organization’s ability to attract and retain skilled workers.

Why Is Creating A Culture Around Learning Important?

In properly established learning cultures, employees are able to build their skill set and increase their knowledge base on a continuous or semi-regular basis. When this training is oriented toward increasing employee performance and enhancing their personal and professional growth, both the employee and the broader organization stand to prosper.

Time and again, studies worldwide have shown that better-trained employees are much more productive and that the employer may even receive higher returns on these programs than the employees. In an oft-cited IBM report, 84% of employees in the best-performing companies received regular training, while only 16% of the employees in the worst-performing companies were properly and regularly trained.

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It should not come as a surprise that better-trained employees can positively impact significant aspects of your business, but many do not realize that these benefits extend well past day-to-day productivity and can significantly affect your long-term retention rates and ability to attract top talent.

A Better Retention Rate

In today’s competitive environment, attracting and retaining the top talent in your industry is becoming more important and more challenging than ever. With an effective and engaging culture of learning, you will have a powerful tool with which to push back against these trends.

According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of the employees they asked said they would remain at a company if it invested in helping them learn. This is important when you understand that the January 2022 report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that the average number of years workers aged 25 to 34 had been at their jobs was only 2.8 years (compared to 9.8 years for employees aged 55 to 64).

A 2021 Gallup survey found that 61% of workers said that employer-provided upskilling was key to their evaluation of their current job, and for workers ages 18 to 24, upskilling opportunities were the third most essential perk when considering new job opportunities, behind only disability benefits and health insurance. In an older two-year study, when a hospitality company (a sector with very high turnover rates) implemented “rigorous management training programs that focused on frontline leaders,” they found that their turnover rate shrank from about 90% to under 60%.

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It is worth noting the increased savings that come from a lower turnover rate. The need to regularly find, interview and train staff can be a substantial drain on the company coffers.

A last benefit of a learning culture and its relationship to retention is the ability it gives you to build redundancy into your workforce. With a number of common skill sets being regularly reinforced, the impact of a single employee leaving can be heavily nullified.

A Better Atmosphere For Collaboration

According to 2020 data from Glint, employees rated “opportunities to learn and grow” as the top driver of a great work culture. Employees who feel that their company has invested in them are more motivated to make a long-term investment in that business themselves, to find success in the workplace and collaborate with others. The core of this atmosphere, and a big part of learning culture in general, is making employees engaged and active thinkers on the job.

Engaged employees are more likely to be active participants in handling problems and overcoming challenges, and to go the extra mile for the good of the team.

How Do You Develop A Culture Around Learning?

Not only can a strong workplace culture reinforce your company’s practices and values, but it can also help to ensure that your workforce is performing at their absolute best. That said, just how do you go about creating such a culture?

At its most basic, a culture is a strongly held and widely shared set of beliefs, and in a company, these beliefs must be acted out at all levels of the organization.

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The easiest way to build a culture around any goal is to find and recruit people who share that same vision, and to create orientation materials, training programs and performance management plans that clearly outline and reinforce your company’s cultural values. You must also ensure that you are encouraging adherence to these cultural values with appropriate rewards and recognitions.

In a culture of learning, this means rewarding and motivating employees to learn more and build up their skill sets, even when these skills and topics may not be directly related to your industry or company goals. Education opportunities must be a balancing act between relevant technical skills, soft interpersonal skills and skills that employees simply enjoy learning. Too much emphasis on industry training and your education program can become uninteresting and counterproductive to your goals. But investing too much in enjoyable skills, like painting, can start to run against your ROI.

I’ve found that many companies are now offering language courses and training materials in multiple languages to encourage employees to work on their language abilities, a process that both the employee and employer can benefit from.

Remember, these workplace programs are more than just a method to make your employees more productive; they are tangible evidence of your investment in your workforce and are a powerful tool to help keep morale and retention rates up.


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