Why an Organization should Invest in Fostering a Learning Culture to Gain a Competitive Advantage
Anne M. Mulcahy, former CEO and chairwoman of Xerox Corporation says- “Employees are a company’s greatest asset – they’re your competitive advantage. You want to attract and retain the best; provide them with encouragement, stimulus and make them feel that they are an integral part of the company’s mission.”
Just like a chisel needs polishing, a tool needs cleaning and oiling to work efficiently, a human mind needs constant challenges and learning new things to work efficiently day by day.
Mundane and repetitive tasks make the human mind dull and idle, gradually making the person unmotivated and disinterested in work. Like products start becoming obsolete if not updated, employees also can become obsolete very soon, leading to an obsolete workforce and hence an obsolete organization. The employees need to upgrade their skillsets constantly and upskill themselves.
The surest way for an organization to keep its employees motivated and productive is to improve their skills with training & development. This needs a learning culture to be inculcated in the organization. Learning should be nurtured as an integral part of the organization. It should become a habitual behavior for all employees of the organization.
What is most important is that this learning culture should follow a top-down model, i.e., starting from the leadership team and trickling down the line. A good learning culture encompasses processes that remove barriers, encourages learning, and creates a support system for seamless access to all learning aids.
Creating a sustainable learning culture in an organization needs a breakdown of traditional silos. For helping learnability to become a part of the organizational culture, certain necessary and supportive policies need to be put in place and followed.
Some of these are-
In an organization, most manual tasks are often repetitive, mundane, and tedious. So as much as possible, these manual and repetitive tasks need to be automated. Once people are freed up from performing these tedious tasks, they can start performing higher-level tasks. These tasks are more productive for the company and are more fulfilling to the employee.
Technology has reshaped the way organizations work. Technology can impact the work environment by streamlining tedious & wasteful processes, expediting access to systems, and make communication more efficient. Today technology can do much more than one can think of. Be it voice typing, online conversions of currencies, various measurements, calculations, translations, etc., many tasks can be done with the click of a button. The active usage of technology makes employees more productive and efficient.
Pushing people to higher-order tasks
Once technology makes tasks easier to perform and automation frees employees from tedious tasks, they can acquire newer and advanced skillsets. The aim should be to make sure that the employees upskill and upscale to doing higher-order tasks. Re-skilling the workforce helps them to carve out their path for career advancement.
Applying the learning to work to be efficient and productive
Once the employees have gone through the training process and are upskilled, they must apply their knowledge to their job efficiently. It needs to be understood that effective employees are more often than not one of the most productive in their workplaces.
Creating a culture of lean structure
Having a learning culture in the organization can also help create a lean structure and remove waste from the processes. The tangible benefits of lean culture include retention of good employees, improved bottom lines, revenue growth, etc.
Setting up an innovation culture
An organization that wants to grow needs to foster an innovation culture. Innovation saves the company from redundancy, so in an organization, innovation should be everyone’s responsibility. Innovation is essential for the company’s survival and is a competitive advantage to become a market leader. This is also an excellent boost for employee morale.
Thinking and staying ahead in the market
To achieve continued growth in today’s competitive market, organizations need to think ahead and stay ahead. One way to accomplish this is to be a good employer who has a motivated and skilled workforce. Continuous training & development of the employees will definitely help in achieving this objective. Getting employees trained and certified helps the organization have a skilled workforce and helps the employees gain knowledge and confidence in their work.
For example, when a business analyst in the organization is trained and gets certified (CBAP, CCBA, ECBA, AAC, CBDA, PMI-PBA, etc.), the knowledge and skills learnt help them perform their job better and with a lot more confidence. That is a sure win-win situation for the organization.
Becoming financially healthy & profitable
By following a lean structure, reducing wastage in both workforce & resources, and becoming efficient helps an organization have significant financial savings. These practices increase the company’s profitability and hence allow for investment in better technology and people development.
Becoming an admired organization
An admired organization is financially strong, offers quality products/services, is a market leader, has a loyal set of customers and employees, and is a company with good people management policies.
Attracting & Retaining good talent
Once a company gains the title of ‘an admired organization’, it becomes a magnet towards attracting good talent. Organizations that empower their employees by giving them training, helping them upskill and upscale, giving them access to tools and processes needed for their job, creating an innovative environment, etc., are always a preferred employer. Such companies attract employees who have the willingness and desire to learn and succeed, which eventually results in the organization’s success.
Adopting and nurturing a learning culture is a dynamic process. It becomes successful when it becomes a part of the organizational DNA. Companies embracing values, processes, and practices of the learning culture gain and sustain a competitive edge over their competitors.