How to create a workplace of lifelong learners

If you run a business, you know that your ability to be agile and innovative isn’t about a fancy office fit-out or the latest software. It’s about cultivating teams of engaged, self-directed, lifelong learners.

Cursory training programs represent just one aspect of fostering workplace learnability. Successful businesses need to create and nurture a culture that incentivises people to take responsibility for their learning and performance. Teams of lifelong learners are key to growing a business that responds to industry shifts and technological change.

“People are at the centre of the organisation and are ultimately the owners of their learning experience,” Sarah Appleby, Learning Experience Manager at Squiz, explains. “It’s so powerful to help your people understand their strengths so they can continuously grow these and identify areas of interest to set themselves up for future opportunities.”

Creating a learning ecosystem

In the past, people expected formal training opportunities and may have endured day-long training sessions. But the landscape of workplace learning looks dramatically different today. “Instead of implementing a traditional or formal approach to learning and development, it’s important to think about the learning ecosystem you want to create,” Sarah says. “You need to take into account the ways people are shaped by their experience, formal education, exposure to new things, and the working environment, and ensure that your tools, systems, and infrastructure support this.”

Enabling people

Part of nurturing workplace learnability is empowering people to take initiative for their own development and fostering relationships and behaviours that encourage them to evolve and grow.

“If your people can’t guide themselves from point A to point B, chances are that they’ll get stuck,” Sarah says. “Their ability to have a good relationship with their leaders and peers, give and receive feedback, and seek new information and new ways of doing things is critical.”

Charting the course for learnability

Of course, the rise of digital has meant that workplace learning has become fast and accessible. But the proliferation of online courses and content can also be overwhelming.

Paving the road to learnability means being strategic and thinking about technology as an enabler rather than a solution. “It’s about how you enable learning through technology,” Sarah says. “There’s so much learning material out there for free, and technology platforms must support this.”

Processes such as onboarding new starters have a serious impact on people’s success in the workplace, as well as their ability to become lifelong learners. “At Squiz, we’re designing a digital-first onboarding and induction experience,” says Sarah. “During new starters’ first six months on the job, we prepare them not only for their roles, but also with lifelong learning skills and clarity on what they do and how they contribute to Squiz’s vision. This really sets the foundation for success for new starters and for Squiz.”

Ultimately, fostering a culture of learnability is about understanding the drivers of lifelong learning, using technology as an enabler rather than as a distraction, and ensuring that your systems and processes set people up to take initiative and thrive.

Prioritising learnability is a powerful step towards preparing your business for future transitions. “If you’re a lifelong learner, you’re much more adept at dealing with change,” says Sarah.

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