How To Create A Culture of Learning and Growth In Your Organization

July 24, 2019

Few people enter a job hoping to stay in that position forever. Whether it’s because they consider their current role as purely as a means to an end (a better job around the corner) or because they are realistic about their long-term career path, it’s natural for most employees to assume that one day they’ll leave their current role for the sake of growth. 

However, that doesn’t mean there can’t be any growth for employees while still at a company.

In fact, having a company culture that encourages growth and learning for employees is something company leaders ought to take seriously as it’s been proven to improve employee retention and satisfaction. Our kununu data from hundreds of thousands of reviews further proves this – top rated companies have much better “career development” scores than companies with lower overall ratings:

  • Among highest rated companies on kununu (4 stars or higher), the average rating for “career development” is 4.05 stars
  • Among lowest rated companies on kununu (2 stars or less), the average rating for “career development” is 1.00 stars

Unfortunately for employees though, some workplaces just don’t offer many opportunities for career development and overall growth. 

Here’s how to transform your organization into one that is supportive of personal and career growth so that everyone benefits:

Focus on “How,” Not “What”

Fostering a learning culture doesn’t have to require a multi-million dollar budget. It can be as simple as retooling the training opportunities you already offer. Look over your documents or protocols for new employee training. Do you simply provide a laundry list of responsibilities, teaching them what to do? Or do you give them the opportunity to learn how something works? Focusing on the “how” over the “what” gives employees a greater sense of autonomy and control over their own learning.

Encourage Honesty

Organizations that discourage dissent often engage in groupthink, in which everyone toes the party line without question. Not only does this limit your organization’s creativity and economic growth potential, but it also stunts your employees’ growth. Instead, give team members opportunities to give honest feedback, disagree (professionally!) with one another, and question decision-making processes. Workshops on giving and receiving constructive criticism can be a great way to facilitate this process.

Create a Mentorship Program

Everyone benefits from a mentorship program. Mentees learn valuable skills, can strategize about their career future with a trusted person, and will benefit from the experience of a knowledgeable mentor. Mentors also grow in their ability to provide honest feedback and support a colleague’s growth. Help to match mentees with someone two to three “ranks” above their current career level. This gives them the opportunity to cultivate a long-lasting relationship with someone who understands the industry and can serve as a guide.

Provide Tangible Incentives

Sometimes, support needs to come in the form of tangible incentives. Provide opportunities for your employees to attend conferences, take continuing education courses, or get tuition remission for college credits. This investment in your workplace will pay immense dividends by yielding employees who are not only better equipped to do their jobs, but also feel a sense of gratitude toward your company. If you think there is a speaker or workshop that many of your employees would benefit from, set up an event at the office to engage all of your staff in growth and learning.

Support Failure

Failure gets a bad rap in many corporate settings, but it shouldn’t (or at least not always). Encourage your team members to think about failure differently. Often, we fail because we tried something new that just didn’t work out. That’s not a bad reflection on us, it’s a learning opportunity. Teach employees to examine their failures, reflect on what worked versus what didn’t, and try again. Flipping the narrative about failure can be a great way for members of your organization to learn the value of taking calculated risks.

Focus on “Soft Skills,” Too

Not all learning opportunities need to be about “hard skills” such as database management, coding, using new technology, or increasing sales yields. Sometimes the “soft skills” come in even more handy. Consider whether you are supporting employees’ human development as people who demonstrate honesty, empathy, warmth, self control, good communication skills, leadership, and appropriate ability to navigate and resolve conflict. Focusing on these aspects of emotional intelligence can make your organization run more smoothly and cultivate a vibrant environment of learning and mastery.

Invest in New Tech

It’s tough to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to new technologies, but it can be worth the investment. Make sure your employees are trained to handle the latest and greatest tech trends in your industry, as this will improve productivity and keep them engaged in learning something new.

When in Doubt, Ask!

The best way to find out what opportunities motivate your employees to grow is to ask them. Talk to your team members about how they feel about the organization, whether they feel like it promotes growth, whether they personally have encountered barriers to upward mobility, and what programs would incentivize them to keep learning.


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Linda Le Phan
Senior Content Marketing Manager at kununu.

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