How to Create a Culture of Learning and Personal Development in the Workplace

Learning and personal development are essential in the workplace so that employees feel valued and this can lead to greater loyalty and productivity. It can also help them to feel empowered and motivated and the overall impact will have far reaching positive effects throughout the organisation.

Creating a culture of learning and personal development within an organisation, however, doesn’t happen by itself. Firstly, an organisation has to commit itself to this and the Chief Executive and senior managers need to have bought into its importance. A culture of personal development has to be created from ‘the top down’.

A good starting point is having an organisational policy on learning and personal development, so that it’s seen as being at the heart of the organisation. There also needs to be a budget for this with each employee having a personal allocation.

The Chief Executive and senior managers must undertake learning and personal development themselves, so that as role models they lead by example. It’s also a good idea for them to talk informally to employees about their own learning and personal development and how it’s going.

Organisations can use incentives, such as employee volunteering, so that they match an employee’s volunteering hours by giving them the same number of work hours in which to volunteer, up to a specified amount. Awards issued when employees have reached a certain number of volunteering hours can also be an incentive.

There needs to be a consistent approach by an organisation towards learning and personal development in relation to employee management. This starts with learning and personal development being written into the job descriptions of employees, and introduced to them at induction. Employees can be asked to complete a questionnaire to assess their training and personal development needs and from this their Manager can help them to create a customised development plan in which they are encouraged to set learning goals and objectives.

It’s a good idea for supervision to have a section on training and personal development as a standing item so that it’s always discussed and supervisors actively encourage, monitor, discuss, support and advise on this. Appraisals can be linked to development plans. Employees can also be encouraged to keep a journal of their workplace learning, so that this information is kept together and can be added to and referred to as required.

Experienced and enthusiastic employees can be encouraged to promote learning and personal development to newer employees and peer support can be organised. It’s often better to hear of the benefits of a new initiative from peers rather than managers.

Finally, employees learning and personal development needs to be on the agenda of all organisational meetings including employees meetings, team away days and senior managers meetings. This way it is literally always ‘on the agenda’ and addressed as a matter of course at important meetings.

So by bringing this important subject into the core and heart of an organisation by creating a policy, embedding it into management, encouraging peer support and keeping it on the agenda it can become embedded and its overwhelming benefits can permeate the organisation.

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