In the past, learning paths were created for employees, courses assigned, and boxes checked off when they were completed. In today’s workplace, those traditional learning plans just don’t cut it.

Today’s workers are looking for more than just training—they want to be part of a true learning culture, one that encourages and supports different styles of learning, from formal workshops to mentorship. In fact, a 2015 Gallup report found that employees who get the opportunity to continually develop are twice as likely to say they’ll spend their career with the company.

The definition of a true learning culture is when an organization is able to create, acquire, and transfer knowledge quickly, and modify its behavior to reflect that knowledge. It recognizes career development opportunities as the best way to retain valuable employees and maximize performance. Research backs this up: Aon Hewitt found that career development discussions are important in keeping employees motivated and engaged.

So how can HR (human resources) support employee performance through ongoing learning at your workplace? Here are a few strategies to consider:

  • Supporting career development. Organizations should approach learning and development as a process, not a test to pass or fail.
  • Connecting the dots. One way to promote a learning culture and drive engagement is to ensure that employees understand how their learning plans help them succeed in their role.
  • Encouraging employees to take charge of their own career development. Managers play a key role in supporting their employees’ learning and performance achievements, but employees need to be active in their own career development as well. Not only does this boost engagement, it also holds employees responsible for their own advancement.

The benefits of ongoing learning and performance

Learning resonates for both employees and employers. For employees, it represents a tangible investment in them on the part of the organization. For employers, it’s a cost-effective tool for supporting job satisfaction and retention.


Adkins, Amy. “Only 35% of U.S. Managers Are Engaged in Their Jobs.” Gallup. 2 April 2015.

Aon Hewitt. “Aon Hewitt Study Reveals Strong Link Between Employee Engagement and Employee Perceptions of Total Rewards. Honest Leader Communication Also Influences Engagement.” 8 April 2015.

Garvin, David A. “Building a Learning Organization.” Harvard Business Review. July 1993.