How a learning culture will drive the workplace of the future

by Lauren Acurantes17 Jan 2017
Corporations with strong learning cultures are more productive, innovative and profitable, according to Jenny Dearborn, SAP’s chief learning officer.

“You need a strong learning culture to attract and retain talent,” she added, citing widely-recognised  studies on how millennials are looking to work at companies that are willing to invest in employee development.

Dearborn said that a company should keep three things in mind when cultivating a strong learning culture in the workplace:

1)    Having executives set the tone and pushing for a learning culture within the company;
2)    Being aware and accepting the changing nature of work; and
3)    Embracing the use of technology.

She said that HR should be the executor of these changes but the tone should be set from executives.

“Without the support of executives, it would be very challenging for you to implement learning and development programmes,” she said.

Part of that change in mindset, she added, begins with an acceptance that change is coming and embracing the challenges that come with “the changing nature of the economy, the changing nature of work”.

“Then you can look at technology … you need some sort of technology that connects people, that facilitates conversation and sharing and dialogue around content,” she said.

“You will need some sort of technology that transfers that content from one person to another,” she said, adding that technology will be a critical business differentiator moving forward.

Dearborn advises HR professionals who are cautious about embracing technology to introduce it in pilots. 

Start with the areas of the business in which change is the most critical; where the work and skills needed by employees are changing the most.

“These are the areas where you are most vulnerable … where you are at the greatest risk,” she said.

“Corporations can choose not to use technology for a certain period of time but they will be very, very surprised when the time comes that their work has been replaced,” she cautioned.

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