Creating learning cultures: assessing the evidence

Explore the evidence on learning cultures, the case for embedding a learning environment within organisations, and the steps L&D professionals can take to tackle any barriers encountered along the way

Why we need to create a culture for learning

The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the way businesses operate. Organisations have had to change where they work, how they work, and even reconsider the services they offer. The ability to learn, adapt and continuously improve in the face of this challenge is vital.

Yet learning isn’t the norm in every organisation. Fewer than half of UK employees believe their job offers good opportunities to develop their skills, while case study research suggests learning provision is seldom fit for purpose when it comes to implementing new technologies in the workplace. Moreover, just over a third of L&D practitioners feel they’ve successfully developed a positive culture for learning, despite the vast majority wishing to do so from the outset.

To remain relevant in a challenging labour market, organisations need to think strategically about how they invest in and develop their human capital. One way to do this is to create a supportive learning environment where learning is not only embedded, but encouraged across every level of the organisation – often described as a learning culture.

Our latest research unpacks what learning culture means in practice, and what you can to do to embed a learning environment in your organisation.

Explore the research findings

What can L&D professionals do?

To truly embed learning within the business, L&D professionals first need to evaluate the current learning environment in place - only then can they start taking action at an organisational, team and individual level:

Organisational learning

Businesses need structures and systems in place to support learning, as well as a shared vision for learning and transformation. Our research suggests that L&D teams in possession of professional courage - a core behaviour in the CIPD’s new Profession Map - are more likely to bring stakeholders together to support learning.

To see our list of recommendations to help you support organisational learning, see page 13 in the full report.


Team learning

Managers who prioritise and support team learning, both informal and formal, stand to benefit in the long run. Our research into the untapped potential of UK skills highlights that managers have a key role in enabling workers to develop their skills at work, but they need support to do this effectively. Our diversity management research highlights that the most effective way to get managers on board with strategic people objectives is to give them agency in how they meet those objectives.  

To see our list of recommendations to help you support team learning, see page 14 in the full report.


Individual learning

Learning needs to take place in a supportive environment in which employees are empowered to put their learning into practice. Although other organisational practices will inevitably influence how - and when - people can apply their learning, the trick is for organisations to connect individual learning with organisational learning.

To see our list of recommendations to help you support individual learning, see page 14 in the full report.


The case for learning cultures

Our evidence review finds a link between organisational support for learning and growth, transformation and knowledge sharing, among others. These organisations will now, more than ever, be able to respond agilely to the challenges they face – whether that be upskilling or reskilling their teams, equipping individuals to work from home, or making the shift to digital learning.

Download our report, Creating learning cultures: assessing the evidence, to understand why it’s so critical for workplaces to invest in the learning and development of their workforce in order to stay future-fit in a complex, competitive world of work.

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