Frieda de Bruyn

5 Actionable Ways to create a culture of learning in your organisation

You see a bunch of memes being shared everywhere on a specific topic.

You feel a bit lost as you have no idea what event caused this proliferation of memes.

How do you get to the source of it?

Do you turn on the News Channel, go on social media, search it on the internet or phone that friend that’s always on top of it and who doesn’t judge you for not being on top of it?  

There’s an inherent desire and curiosity in us to be in the know. Whether it’s being able to improve the work you do or simply learning a new random skill.

It excites and intrigues us. 


"Being a lifelong learner is taking joy in exploration regardless of whether the discovery has immediate relevance."


“The hallmark of curiosity is a thirst for knowledge that has no obvious utility. Being a lifelong learner is taking joy in exploration regardless of whether the discovery has immediate relevance. The goal is to understand for the sake of understanding.” 

- Adam Grant, Organisational Psychologist and American author 


So how do we utilise this natural desire to explore and learn at work?

We did some exploration ourselves to come up with 5 actionable ways to create a culture of learning.

  1. Create a convenient and accessible learning environment
  2. Ensure your learning adds value 
  3. Give your learners autonomy 
  4. Make learning social 
  5. Get your learners involved 


1. Create a convenient and accessible learning environment 

One of the pain points frequently mentioned by prospective learners in our co-design sessions, is not knowing where to find the learning available in their organisation. Back in the day it was easily contained in a physical library of resources in the office.

These days it’s a bit trickier, with different resources stored somewhere in an unknown ‘cloud’. Unless you have good mates in the L&D/IT department or mad online sleuth skills, finding the ‘good stuff’ can feel near impossible and a waste of time.  

The sad thing is that there are amazing learning resources available, but the learners not knowing they exist, how to find or use them, leading to very low engagement rates. 

An online platform should be accessible, current, well-organised and easy to navigate to cultivate a culture of learning at your organisation.

If Ben from customer care could do a quick search to find that helpful Quick-reference guide he’s seen on Fran’s desk, that’s gold! This convenience saves him time (and you money). 

Consider whether the resources are accessible to the target audience.

There’s no use in creating a suite of online modules, if most of the workforce don’t have access to a work device or whether they have connectivity issues in their area.

A paper-based solution might be a better option.

Carefully consider aspects such as the level of WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) compliance needed within your learning solutions. You want to make sure that learning is accessible to your full target audience. 



2. ensure your learning adds value 

Your learning offering should add value to your learners, not just to the organisation.  

  • Will it help the learners be more confident in their jobs and themselves?  
  • Will it help overcome any pain points or barriers that exist in their role?  
  • Will it ensure their safety and the safety of others?  
  • Will it enable them to build better relationships within their team or the organisation?  
  • Will it help them to feel more involved within the organisation or their community?  

At Inspire Group we believe that learning should be life changing. Learning that is done to simply tick a compliance box is very uninspiring and won’t spark natural curiosity and intrinsic motivation to learn.


READ: The Top 6 Tips for Embedding Learning in Your Organisation 




3. Give your learners autonomy 

Being forced to read certain books or study specific content in school/University might have removed joy of exploration and the motivation to learn. 

It’s better to give your learners autonomy on their learning journey, while providing guidance along the way.  

Asking someone to write about any topic they choose to can feel overwhelming and debilitating when there are infinite options available.

Knowing the resources that are helpful for your role, being able to search keywords or having a learning pathway available, all aid in creating that guidance and certainty. 

Giving the learner the opportunity to learn at a time that works for them or when they need it, promotes a culture of on-demand learning.

They can dip in and out of the learning as they need to and learn in bite-sized chunks, rather than one lengthy module.  


"Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another."


Dan Pink mentions in his book ‘The surprising truth about what motivates us’, that “Human beings have an innate inner drive to be autonomous, self-determined, and connected to one another. And when that drive is liberated, people achieve more and live richer lives.” 

This links perfectly to our next actionable tip. 




4. Make learning social 

It’s a tale as old as time; we learn from others.

Nowadays we can reach others without having to travel, so non-traditional learning resources like masterclasses and podcasts are becoming more popular.

You don’t have to hire celebrities to create these resources, there are champions and superstars within your own organisation!

Maybe you have sales superhero with a can-do attitude, who can share useful learnings, tips and tricks. Perhaps there’s a team who overcame a barrier, whose experience might be meaningful to others. Maybe you just want to motivate and encourage the newbie who’s still on the fence about the career prospects they can look forward to. 

Peer learning has served as a useful tool in many different situations, whether it’s job shadowing or having that ‘phone a friend’ buddy you can rely on.

Another application of social learning is peer recommendations.

Knowing what resources others in similar roles found useful helps to eliminate having to sift through it yourself. It can also be in the form of a star rating/comments with online learning resources. Basically, the equivalent of buying an item online and checking out the reviews to see others’ thoughts.  

And one final thing, give learners time to collaborate. This usually leads to richer outcomes and is an opportunity for growth and mentorship. 


culture_5 (1)

5. Get your learners involved 

The only way to know how your learners like to learn and what they need to learn is to get them involved.

This involvement should be from concept stage all the way through to the review-phase. It doesn’t necessarily need to be the same team throughout but should be the end-users of the learning.  

We prefer to have learners available in our co-design sessions to explore how they’d like to learn, what they want to learn and what should absolutely not be part of their learning.

This will sometimes involve some blue-sky thinking that might be completely different to what you had in mind or might not be in your budget. Your learning provider or L&D team will work with you to reach a compromise that can satisfy both parties.  

We want learners to own their learning and contribute to it.

Take a leap of faith and have a sit-down with a few learners to hear their thoughts or send out a survey to get the input of a large audience. Create a pilot group who can test the learning solution.

Most importantly, get feedback from the learners after they’ve completed the learning to find out how it landed and what needs to be tweaked in the future.

Feedback is not only beneficial to you, but also to the learner in their learning journey. Find out how they would like to receive feedback about their development.

Do they want online comments/results, a 1:1 with their mentor/manager, or a virtual badge?

What will be meaningful to them? 


“The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organisation’s learning culture.” 

All organisations have some level of maturity when it comes to workplace learning cultures: your people are learning regardless of how established your learning culture is.  


READ: Why is Organisational Learning Maturity Important?


Foster the natural curiosity for learning by providing your staff with convenient and accessible learning that adds value, involving them in learning design and providing guidance when they need.

Most of all, encourage your people to share their learnings with others, to collectively strengthen the knowledge of your team. Utilise this opportunity and innate desire to be in the know by nurturing a workplace that provides ample time and opportunity for growth and development, and celebrates learning. 

“The single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organisation’s learning culture.”  

- Josh Bersin (author, president, and founder of Bersin & Associates) 

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