Creating a thriving learning culture: four obstacles to overcome

Dominic Fitch explains what gets in the way of L&D – and how to prevail over it

Embracing a learning culture in the workplace is a great way to help your business and people thrive. When companies get this right, it is estimated they are 92 per cent more likely to be innovative and 37 per cent more productive.

That said, there is no hiding that implementing organisational change by bringing in a learning culture can come with its challenges. For instance, you may find that some employees resist change at first, which can slow down the process and damage the team development.

As a manager or business owner, what are the barriers you might face when trying to create a thriving learning culture? Here are some of the frequent obstacles to employees’ personal and professional growth.   

Lack of support from leaders and managers

For team members to appreciate the importance of continuous learning and professional development, it is crucial for managers and seniors to support them throughout the journey. The reality is that, if there’s a lack of guidance from leaders, employees might fail to understand the benefits of merging work-related learning opportunities with their day-to-day tasks.

Continuous learning is a fundamental aspect of work life, as it allows people to enhance their skills and improve on a personal and professional level. But without adequate mentorship, team members may be missing out on this opportunity, which in turn can hinder the efficiency and productivity of your business.

So, leaders and managers should always act as role models, promoting the advantages of continuous learning and taking time to allocate resources for training programmes. What’s more, you may want to consider being involved in learning and training sessions, too. By showing active and genuine interest in the development of your team, you can empower your employees to invest in their growth and foster a successful learning culture.

Limited time

Fifty three per cent of workers in the UK feel overworked because of packed schedules and hefty workloads. With so many tasks to carry out during their shift, many employees often have little time to focus on learning activities and professional development. And, especially with strict deadlines and targets to meet every day, they might feel obliged to prioritise scheduled work over training opportunities.

Of course, it may not always be possible to postpone urgent tasks, but it’s the manager’s responsibility to find ways to ensure their team enjoys much-needed learning opportunities. One solution could be to reserve specific slots each week for training purposes only. This means that, say, on a Wednesday morning, employees will know that they are booked for learning activities. This way, they can confidently concentrate on enhancing their competencies without having to worry about neglecting other impending tasks.

Poor or insufficient resources

Another significant barrier to creating an effective learning culture is not having access to valuable resources. Without the relevant tools, books, documents, seminars or webinars, what are your people actually going to learn?

The truth is that unless your employees are equipped with adequate training materials, they will find it challenging to keep up with innovations and industry trends. As well as limiting their potential and skills, this can have a negative impact on the company’s overall performance.

To nip the problem in the bud, invest in tailored learning resources, including training platforms, digital libraries and online courses. Yes, it’s no quick fix and you may have to set some money aside to build your portfolio of resources. But it will be worth it in the long run. In fact, it will provide you with an increasingly skilled team that can drive your organisation forward.

Resistance to new processes and change

Let’s be honest – not everybody has a soft spot for change. Sixty-two per cent of UK employees admit they don’t like leaving their comfort zone. Once people are familiar with existing processes and are happy with their current knowledge, they can be reluctant to adopt different tools or methods. This could be because they worry about failing or being unable to keep up. Whatever the reason, if your team is resistant to change, it can threaten the smooth introduction of new training activities.

So, what can you do to prevent this? The best medicine is clear communication. As a leader, it’s important that you guide your people through new initiatives, underlining how these changes will benefit them in the short and long term. Also, encourage your team to share any concerns and address them individually. This will allow you to highlight the advantages of your new learning culture and, in turn, help reduce people’s worries and scepticism.     

Dominic Fitch is head of creative change at Impact