One job of a human resources professional is to monitor office culture and champion programs, ideas, and policies that create a more productive office environment. While goals such as positive work environments, increased staff morale, and better teamwork are important, HR should also look at creating a learning culture in the office.
By fostering training and mentorship programs, setting a good example about learning, and involving employees in education processes, you can create an office culture that encourages success and creates new leaders.
Developing a Learning Culture with Executive Support
To create an office culture that values learning, you’ll need buy-in from company executives and all levels of leadership. Education programs cost time and money, so management needs to recognize the importance of learning and realize that training brings a return on investment. Human resources staff should work with leadership to identify areas where training or education might benefit the company.
Making Corporate Learning Accessible for all Employees
Once programs are launched, HR should ensure opportunities are open to all appropriate employees. Leadership may want to offer programs to high performers, team members in certain departments, or individuals positioned to take on supervisory roles within the next year. Being selective about certain programs is appropriate, as long as favoritism or discrimination is not involved. To create a positive office culture about learning, all employees need to feel like they have opportunities for education. Team members will understand if a workshop on coaching is limited to supervisors, but make sure you provide other opportunities for staff, such as classes on software, phone skills, communication skills, or industry-specific technology.
Encourage Company-Wide Learning and Sharing
It’s not enough to just offer workshops: to create an office environment where people are willing to put new skills to the test, leadership has to be willing to give employees responsibilities and let them learn from mistakes. In an office culture where mistakes are ridiculed or severely punished, most team members are going to stick with what they are comfortable doing. It’s important that human resources coach management on dealing positively with mistakes. Instead of taking a task back from an employee or group, leadership should use errors as teaching moments. Those who are in the habit of debriefing on projects or tasks can learn from successes and failures—and also from each other. While you can’t let the same mistakes be made repeatedly, you can allow people to fail occasionally to grow.
Case Study of a Successful Corporate Learning Environment
It’s important to create educational opportunities that employees can get behind. A group of professionals in Hinsdale, Ill., recently completed an Emerging Leader Program that resulted in growth and promotions for several individuals. The program was created after one employee participated in a similar program on the national level. The national program was difficult for those participants who were required to travel for the opportunity and couldn’t make all the events. By creating an opportunity on the regional level, program leaders were able to offer opportunities to more individuals. Keep geography, scheduling, and employee expenses in mind when planning programs. A learning opportunity that puts undue stress or financial requirements on an employee is going to be seen as a punishment rather than an opportunity.
Creating an office culture that promotes success for the company and the employees is an important function of human resources. Sponsoring appropriate learning programs is one way HR can help achieve business goals.
Author Guest: Nancy Anderson is the communities and article Editor for Beyond.com. Nancy has 10 years experience in the online job search business with Beyond. Nancy’s team produces dozens of articles every month for top internet sites. Follow Nancy and the Beyond team on https://twitter.com/BeyondJobs.
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