Workers overwhelmingly want training to boost their skills. Companies with a strong learning culture attract—and retain—top performers. And skilled workers boost profits and efficiency. So the only remaining question is: What are you waiting for?

Employees want to learn

Workplace learning is hot. According to the LinkedIn 2019 Workplace Learning Report, nearly three-quarters of employees want to learn at work—and 94 percent said they would stay longer at a company that invested in their learning.

A similar report from Sitel, the Future of Work and Employee Learning, backs up those findings. A large majority of respondents look for employers who promote training (79 percent), and 92 percent feel more motivated and engaged with their work when they learn on the job.

Training improves employee focus and performance

The LinkedIn report found that “heavy learners,” those spending at least five hours a week learning, are considerably more likely to have clear career goals and to find purpose in their work, compared to employees that spend less than an hour a week on training. They’re also less likely to be stressed at work.

Employees primarily want training in soft skills like communication, and technical skills that will help them use tools more effectively and streamline workflow, according to the Sitel report. And a whopping 93 percent think that employees who regularly receive on-the-job training perform better and provide better customer service and overall customer experiences.

Managers, execs drive pro-learning culture

A 2010 report from Bersin research found that “the single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization’s learning culture.”

But many learners aren’t feeling it. Nearly half of Sitel respondents felt penalized for not having specific skills—but the same number felt that managers discouraged training or that they lacked time to learn at work.

A top-down message that learning is a valuable use of employees’ time is essential. Bersin consistently found that a learning culture starts at the top of the organization and is primarily driven by managers, not by HR or L&D teams.

And LinkedIn reports that “The number-one way learners discover the skills they need to improve or progress in their roles is when their manager provides specific direction or guidance.”

HBR concurs: “Reinforcing positive learning behaviors, giving constructive and critical feedback to align employees’ efforts with the right learning goals, showcasing your own curiosity, and hiring people with high learnability and a hungry mind are all likely to create a stronger learning culture within your team and your organization.”

eLearning a key element in learning strategy

The good news is that, according to the LinkedIn report, US employers are tuning up their learning strategies. In just two years, the number of L&D departments feeling seriously constrained by limited budgets dropped by 22 percentage points.

This is great news for eLearning because, “as L&D budgets grow, dollars continue to shift from instructor-led training (ILT) to online learning solutions,” the report said, with 59 percent of talent developers more focused on online solutions than face-to-face training.

Whether offering face-to-face, blended, or fully online training, employers should emphasize collaboration. A majority of LinkedIn respondents in all age groups embrace social and collaborative learning and opportunities to interact “with instructors and/or other learners via forums, groups, or Q&A session while taking a course.”

Learning fuels innovation and success

Building and sustaining a learning culture pays off as employees perform better, proactively prepare for changes in their roles that will demand new skills, and are more engaged—and more committed to staying with the company.

What’s good for the employees is also good for the company. Bersin says that “a learning culture is very business-relevant”—and is a key factor in innovation and business success.