Why Learning is the Key to a Healthy Culture - Getting Hybrid Work Right

The Getting Hybrid Work Right call series has become a well-attended and wide-ranging discussion for HR leaders on all aspects of hybrid work. On this week's call, i4cp' s CEO Kevin Oakes facilitated a conversation on Learning Culture, and was joined by Brenda Sugrue, Chief Learning Officer at EY, and a member of i4cp's Chief Learning and Talent Officer board.  Here are some highlights from the call:

  • i4cp research over several years has repeatedly found that having a strong learning culture correlates to better performance (meaning revenue, profits, market share, and customer satisfaction). One study found that survey participants indicating that their culture was a learning culture was 4X more common at high-performance organizations than low-performers.
  • During the call, we ask the following participant poll: "Has your organization's culture changed since the onset of the pandemic?"
    • 5% Yes, it has become much better
    • 43%  Yes, it has improved somewhat
    • 14% No
    • 37% Yes, but it has deteriorated somewhat
    • 0% Yes, but it has become much worse
  • Oakes shared what i4cp research has found there are five key traits of a learning culture:
    • Active knowledge sharing permeates the organization
    • Leaders (at all levels) are teaching 
    • Reinforced in hiring & performance
    • Managers rewarded for mobility and development
    • Learning’s effectiveness is constantly measured
  • Sugrue shared on the work that EY has done to create first an extensive badging program for learning, but that has grown to a master's degree program, fully business school accredited, that is free for all employees at EY. They have thus far graduated 120 tech MBAs with more in the pipeline using the program.
  • What about the tension between a learning culture and the increase in burnout? Sugrue quoted Ariana Huffington in noting there is a "time famine" for most employees, meaning they don't have time to dedicate to learning (and many other important values). To combat this, many organization are creating dedicated time for learning, employee well-being, etc., while not creating more stress for the workforce.
  • Oakes and Sugrue noted the importance of informal learning. At EY, they stress the characteristic of curiosity as a way to emphasize the importance of informal learning in addition to the formal learning opportunities the organization provides.
  • A strong learning culture is connected to talent mobility, which itself is a key aspect of talent retention and the overall employee value proposition at high-performance organizations. Unfortunately, there remains a lot of room for improvement in talent mobility, with the top barrier at most organizations being managers not encouraging employee development and movement.
  • i4cp research found that only about one in five organizations had an internal talent marketplace, but that many more are pursuing such a platform because it increases transparency of opportunities, drives development, and reduces the inclination of managers to hoard the talent on their teams.
  • In recent i4cp research, 39% of survey participants indicated it was easier for employees to find a job externally than it is internally; and similarly, 27% said it was easier to hire people externally than internally.
  • In custom research that i4cp conducted in 2021, a panel of 25 organizations contributed the practices that they have found most important in building a learning culture. The top results were:
    • Curating content on key topics of interest (e.g., health/wellness, DEI, etc.)
    • Accessibility, providing content at moment of need, empowering employees to own their development
    • "Development Days" (e.g., 2-3 per quarter) for development and team building
    • Leadership development for all managers/leaders, not just HiPo/etc.
    • Aligning on vision via learning council or otherwise getting varied learning leaders together
    • Network of internal learning ambassadors

Links to resources shared on the call:

Read here