BlogLearning & Development

The 7 Essential Steps to Cultivate a Culture of Learning at Your Business

Rohma Abbas
Writer & Content Marketer
Learning & Development
January 26, 2024

Cultivating a culture of learning involves fostering curiosity, encouraging continuous growth, and integrating learning into daily workflows.

Cultivate a Culture of Learning

We’ll take a wild guess: You’re here to learn how to create a culture of learning at your company. Let’s pause to appreciate the meta nature of that for a moment—and to commend you for taking the right step! Given major global trends disrupting work as we know it (think AI and remote work), developing a learning culture at your company is critical to remaining competitive. 

Changing your organizational learning culture won't happen overnight. It takes time, buy-in from leadership, and a lot of hard work. But if you follow these steps, you’ll be on the right track to turn your organization into a lean, mean, learning machine. 

Here’s our 7-step guide for cultivating a learning culture that lasts:

Step 1: Identify your goals and objectives

Find your why. There are lots of reasons to create a learning culture. What are your organization's long-term goals and objectives? And by the way, those two aren’t the same thing. Learning goals are long-term and broad; learning objectives are focused, measurable, and time-based. Some most popular learning and development goals include:

  • Increasing employee performance
  • Boosting employee retention
  • Promoting leadership development 
  • Fostering greater innovation in the workplace 
  • Strengthening team collaboration
  • Addressing crucial skills gaps on the team
  • Paving the way for upskilling and reskilling 


Don’t skip this step! It’s important to identify your goals and objects, document them, and share them with your leadership to encourage support and participation. Once you do this, make sure you’ve written them into your learning strategy, too. 

Step 2: Assess your current state of learning

You won’t know how far you’ve come unless you know where your starting line is. So, take a hard look inward. Ask questions like: 

  • What are our employees’ current attitudes towards learning and development? 
  • What learning opportunities exist at our organization? 
  • What barriers to learning do our employees face?
  • How is our learning environment conducive (or not conducive) to focus and engagement?
  • Are current resources being used effectively?
  • Does training end after onboarding or is it continual? 
  • Which teams or individuals are continuous learners? 
  • How much of my organization’s learning is formal versus informal

Use a mix of qualitative and quantitative assessment measures to gather data and understand your starting point. Qualitative inputs include interviews, focus groups, and observations of work processes and tasks. Quantitative data may include surveys, questionnaires, and formal performance reviews or evaluations. 

Here’s an example of this process at work:

Step 1: Start by interviewing key employees and leaders. Take notes on these conversations and document your observations. 

Step 2: Then, run an employee engagement survey to gain even more insights across your organization. These surveys typically cover many topics, but focus on the answers to questions around employee growth. 

For example, you may ask employees to rate these statements on a five-point Likert scale: 

  • I have the skills needed to be my job properly
  • My training needs are being met
  • The training provided is effective
  • If I need further education, I have the necessary resources
  • There is a clear career development plan for me‍

Interviews, combined with survey results, will give you a holistic view of your starting point. 

Step 3: Create an action plan

This is the fun part. You’ve identified goals and objectives and assessed your current state. It’s time to get into problem-solving mode. 

At this point, you will see patterns emerging in your data. For example, the following themes may consistently crop up:

  • “Training isn’t easily accessible”
  • “Learning material isn’t engaging enough”
  • Sales employees need more structured training” 
  • Partners want more effective onboarding” 
  • “Employees want to upskill but don’t know how”

Now you can start to build an action plan. That might include experimenting with a host of new learning strategies to improve engagement. Or it might mean reinforcing the resources and materials that already exist. 

Step 4: Make learning easy

Part of creating a learning culture is to make it easy to learn. It’s like developing any new habit: you want to minimize friction and pave the way for the new behavior to stick. Here are a few ways to make learning easy:

  • Make training materials easily accessible
  • Enable trainers to create resources seamlessly 
  • Automate reminders and follow-ups for important courses
  • Communicate with learners natively across the tools they already use

You don’t have to reinvent the wheel here. Consider consolidating all your valuable learning and development resources into a learning management system. The benefit: You’ll create a single source of truth for all your learning and development materials, in a system learners will love to use. 

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Step 5: Model the culture of learning

Any massive culture change starts at the top. That means your leaders need to champion the culture of learning, too. Make learning a company-wide priority. Align it to your overall business strategy, and have your executives tout it. Some ways to model a culture of learning include: requiring each employee to have a personal development goal, launching an informal educational event series like a Lunch & Learn, recognizing employees for high performance, and offering learning and development incentives.

Here are a few more ideas for initiatives:

  • Mentorship programs
  • Cross-functional projects
  • Learning sabbaticals
  • Role rotations/job shadowing

Step 6: Make learning engaging

If they snooze, you lose. No one wants to sit through hours of mandatory training, especially in the era of remote work, with Zoom fatigue a real issue to contend with. Luckily, there are a number of ways to make learning more engaging. Consider the following options: 

  • Include a variety of content formats in your learning tracks (i.e.: docs, presentations, videos)
  • Personalize learning to employees’ individual learning styles 
  • Add gamification elements to your training 
  • Intersperse quizzes and elements within static training material
  • Enable likes, comments, and shares of learning material 
  • Offer access to popular third-party learning platforms like LinkedIn, Coursera, and Udemy

Step 7: Collect feedback and learn

In keeping with the spirit of your new learning culture, of course you’ll want to learn if your efforts are actually working. This means looking back at the goals and objectives you’ve set for yourself and analyzing how you’re doing against them. There are lots of learning KPIs that you might want to collect and consider as you think about reporting on progress. For example, you may want to measure: 

  • Training attendance rate
  • Learner retention rate 
  • Learner satisfaction 
  • Job performance impact 

Be sure to poll or interview your learners, too. Collect anecdotal feedback from your employees to help you guide and build the next version of your learning culture. And as we like to say at Continu—always be learning!

Frequently asked questions

What is a learning culture?

A learning culture is an environment where individuals and teams are constantly encouraged to and enabled to learn, overcome knowledge gaps, and apply new skills to advance in their roles. 

Learning organizations embody a continuous learning culture rather than sporadic learning. In these organizations, individuals and teams embrace a growth mindset and incorporate learning and development into everything they do.

Why is a culture of learning important?

Staying ahead of the curve demands developing a learning culture in the workplace. Companies today are constantly facing threats of disruption by technology, scrappier competitors, globalization—and at a relentless pace, too. A learning culture is one of the best ways to protect your business and continue to thrive. Over 4 in 5 organizations (84%) agree that building a learning culture can enhance organizational resilience and build a better culture for employees, according to a 2022 report by SHRM

Not convinced? Here are more benefits of building a strong learning culture:

  • Future-proofs your business 
  • Increases employee engagement 
  • Improves adaptability 
  • Attracts top talent 
  • Boosts creativity and innovation 
  • Sharpens your workforce’s problem-solving skills
  • Encourages career development
  • Improves decision-making skills

How does culture affect learning? 

Culture significantly influences learning within an organization. Positive cultures that value and reward learning foster its growth. On the flip side, cultures that penalize knowledge gaps or mistakes can stifle innovation by creating a fear of trying new things.

What are examples of how culture affects learning? 

Let’s consider a few hypothetical scenarios. At Company A, marketer Maeve thrives in a vibrant learning culture. During a team brainstorming session on penetrating a new market segment, Maeve openly shares ideas. Although she lacks specific experiences, she’s confident in her ability to learn and adapt. 

Contrarily, Company B breeds a hostile learning environment. When a similar meeting occurs, and the team is tasked with exploring a new market, employees are hesitant. Mariel, a team member, initially brims with ideas, but witnessing the boss belittle other contributions, she refrains from speaking up. 

In these scenarios, Company A’s embracing learning culture promotes innovation and empowers employees like Maeve to take on new challenges. On the flip side, the fear-driven atmosphere at Company B stifles creativity and learning, keeping employees like Mariel in their predefined roles, and dampening the company's potential.

What are the characteristics of a learning culture? 

The employees of a company with a strong learning culture embody certain values and traits. Those include:

  • Adaptability 
  • Open-mindedness
  • Confidence 
  • Innovation 
  • Calculated risk-taking 
  • Proactive
  • Creativity 
  • Collaboration
  • Receptive to feedback
  • Growth mindset

Cultivate your learning culture with Continu 

Even the best learning and development plans fail without the right tools in place. If you’re looking for a platform to help you make learning more engaging, look no further than Continu! Rated on Best Overall Corporate LMS on G2, Continu is the modern learning management system employees love to use. Continu has helped organizations to save thousands of hours and achieve eye-popping learner engagement rates. Book a demo with Continu today.  

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About the Author
Rohma Abbas, writer and content strategist at Continu
Rohma Abbas
Writer & Content Marketer

Rohma is a content strategist specializing in B2B tech. She ran content marketing teams at successful SaaS startups, including Workable, 6 River Systems, and Acquire. She started her professional career in newspaper journalism, covering all kinds of stories in the Hamptons and on Cape Cod. In her spare time Rohma enjoys reading, watching k-drama TV, and drinking far too much iced coffee.

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