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Learning at Work – the real catalyst for business change

Successful businesses are scaling up learning to drive themselves forward, says Phil Sproston, Country Manager UK & Ireland for the Top Employers Institute.

At the Top Employers Institute, we are delighted to celebrate Learning at Work Week, which runs from the 13th to 19th May. Its purpose is to promote a culture of learning in every workplace and this has never been more necessary than it is now. Business transformation in an era of disruption is dominating current approaches to learning. Delivered effectively, the latter can bring about necessary change and – crucially – provoke a desire to learn more.

To bring about change, learning today is taking place at all levels and in all sort of new ways. Our latest research shows that nearly all (96%) of Top Employers are designing learning programmes from top to bottom and across all functions and skills.  And a greater variety of learning approaches, particularly the growth of social learning, is now becoming a major feature in successful organisations. Nearly seven in ten (69%) formally facilitate social learning, compared with only half (50%) four years ago.

Social learning suits more employees and, as many are not regularly sitting at a desk, delivering it through mobile technologies has also grown dramatically over the same period. Mobile learning is now used by nearly three-quarters (74%) of certified organisations – the figure four years ago was less than half (49%).

The restless desire to keep learning must come from a change in mindset from employees and line managers alike. Employees need to become self-propelled engines of learning – and line managers need to equip them with the tools for their development. Crucially, the latter is becoming more important in the eyes of the leadership team – our research shows that line managers are held directly accountable for their ability to enable learning within their teams. (now 98%, from 88% in 2015). And because knowledge retained is the new currency by which learning is measured - Top Employers see a limitation in measuring a direct/quantitative ROI on L&D activities (only 30% measure it consistently) in favour of measure of knowledge retention over time (61%) - it is in their interests to do a good job.