Developing An Informal Learning Culture

One of the key vertical within HR is Learning & Development. L&D gives a lot of focus on preparing training calendars, learning modules and skill building. However, the true reality is that very often the business or the lines guys do not take training seriously. For them, it’s a fun day, more like a picnic, a day away from work. For others, it’s a boring chore, that needs to get done to meet the managers KRA. Which brings me to the question, why is training and development not given its due share of importance?

Very often we HR experts, in our need to be seen as strategic and contributing get in touch with the best of training institutes, chalk out the finest training programs available and offer them to our employees. We then prepare a training diary and ask our business to nominate employees. Sounds familiar? Well, this is the biggest mistake we do as L&D professionals.

Training is not a one size fits all. It needs to be discussed with the business, customized and only when the need it found should we be taking it ahead. Let us imagine a situation, where a firm is going through a tough time in controlling defects, managing its customers, improving its processes etc. If as an HR professional we sit with our Business Leaders and explain to them how the solution can be found through training, you have sold the training program house-full. It simply means business needs to find value in training programs, which in a lot of cases is not being seen right now. This can be done by educating managers and building a business case that demonstrates the importance of training and development.

Within any organization, it is critical the HR develops and fosters a culture of learning both formal and informal. These days informal learning is gaining ground and is one of the richest and most effective sources of learning especially as Gen Y enters the workforce. The attitudes, values, practices followed within the company need to continuously support learning. Not all learning needs to be in a classroom setting. 70% of learning happens on the job. However for this to happen, a collaboration between Business and HR is vital.

– Walk the Talk – leadership team needs to understand the relevance of training and encourage this culture within their teams.

– HR needs to brand and promote training in an exciting way. Use posters, interesting mailers, animated videos to showcase training as inspiring and yet engaging.

– Encourage open communication and feedback. Respect people for the feedback, suggestions and ideas they given you and make it a point to work on / study these ideas.

– Managers should be encouraged to take juniors for meetings maybe above their levels of delivery, not necessarily to contribute in such meeting but to absorb and understand the discussion.

– Social learning is gaining a lot of importance these days. HR needs to encourage employees to share success stories and best practices on the intranet so that it’s available to employees across the globe. Upload videos of great work done. Start special forums online, where employees with similar roles, skills, can come together virtually and discuss thoughts, share ideas. Gamification is gaining much popularity lately as it couples learning with fun. Animated videos, Webinars, MOOCs – Massive Open Online Courses, e-learning can also be used to foster the development of employees. Employees enjoy learning in a format that is fun and inspirational at the same time.

– Sell training by linking it to professional advancement at every stage. Training is not an end in itself. Rather it is a journey towards an end. At the time of the annual performance appraisal, importance must be given to what the employee has learnt new, the skills and competencies he has developed.

– Introduce certifications for training programs. Recognize and award employees who complete training modules.

Devil lies in the details. Have training modules which are fun, easy to use, fresh in content, mobile and have a cross generational appeal.

Remember learning is life long and continuous. There will also be better and more innovative ways to do things. Your best employees are the ones who never stop learning.


brinelle (1)

The author is an alumna of Goa Institute of Management and currently working with Citi Bank as an HR Generalist. She has also worked with The Times Group.