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A Business Guide to Creating an Inclusive Learning Culture

CIPD’s Professional Learning and Development report discloses that a whopping 98% of learning and development practitioners want to develop a positive culture for learning, however, only 36% feel like they have actually achieved this.

So, while it’s clear that learning and development has come leaps and bounds from just having new employees ‘learn on the job’, truly inclusive, flexible, learning cultures are still lacking amongst many workplaces.

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What is an inclusive learning culture?

An inclusive learning culture is one where both learners and staff work together to recognise, enrich, and make the most of diversity within a workplace, fostering a learning experience that is fit for all regardless of gender, age, religious affiliation, socioeconomic status, political beliefs or sexual orientation. Inclusive learning cultures champion diversity and use it as a tool to create something bespoke and unique to their organisation.

In this blog we’re going to talk more about how you can create an inclusive learning culture, providing five tips that businesses should embed to create an environment that is inclusive and empowering of all staff.

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1) Understand the need of your learners

First and foremost, a learning culture that is inclusive of all is one that has been created with the learners needs and requirements in mind and there’s no better way to find this out than to just ask them.

The first step to building any inclusive learning culture often starts with open discussions about learning opportunities, skill gaps and current capabilities. Once these things have been established, it creates a starting point for narrowing down tools, platforms, and materials.

Of course, it isn’t feasible to cover every topic, subject or purchase all available tools, however this is a good place to start and will help shape a culture where learners feel like they are being listened to and that they are contributing to the way they are being developed within their roles.

Recent years have brought so many different types of learning to the workplace and as individuals, we are continuing searching for more effective and efficient ways to do our jobs.

Some of the most up to date learning techniques to be aware of are:

  • Micro learning – the phrase micro-learning and bitesize learning are often used interchangeably and consist of materials that are designed to be fully digestible and often come in smaller formats. This type of learning often includes digital resources such as articles and case studies.

  • Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) – AR and VR are no longer solely popular in the gaming industry and are now being leveraged as a learning and development tool in many workplaces. VR creates immersive and realistic simulations, while VR overlays digital information on the physical environment.

  • Artificial Intelligence – artificial intelligence taps into social and emotional learning, which enables personalised learning. Personalised learning is said to be much more time efficient, easier for learners to adopt and has greater long-term results.

  • Collaborative classrooms – collaborative classrooms often include both tools and opportunities for collaboration and are designed in a way where it’s possible for everyone to be involved.
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2) Invest in the correct tools and platforms

The number of tools and platforms available for training and development purposes can make choosing the right one for your organisation quite an overwhelming task.

However, it’s important to remember the key here is diversity and it may take the adoption of more than one tool or platform to create an effective L&D strategy that suits all learners.

Doing a good amount of research to find out what tools and platforms are available on the market will not only help you to make informed decisions but it will also give you an opportunity to reach out to these organisations and ask for in depth tutorials, a free trial before purchase and a conversation with an account manager about capabilities and options.

Some tools include:

Separating your staff into the categories above and then providing a tool that works for them is a great way to achieve results and even though it may seem costly investing in two or three different platforms, you will soon be able to reap the rewards of more confident, knowledgeable, and skilled employees.

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3) Lead from the top

Training, development, and continuous learning is not something that stops and starts with new employees, junior employees or those who are in the position where upskilling is a necessity.

Senior managers, directors, CEOs, and function heads also require regular training and development, in lots of different forms to ensure they are leading in a way that is suited to their workplace.

Introducing inclusive learning from the top and making sure both senior and junior employees are involved in the designing, creating and implementation of training materials will help create a space for involvement, collaboration and will most importantly, will make your staff feel seen and heard.

­­­A few ways in which a leader can do this is by:

  • Establishing psychological safety: a shared belief that it’s okay to express feelings, ideas, and concerns, without fear of negative consequences.

  • Discouraging groupthink: making space for individual participation and critical thinking, ensuring a decision or conclusion is based on all In this case, we shouldn’t always follow the status quo!

  • Encouraging servant behaviour: Servants help create environments of interaction and communication. Servant behaviour is said to promote innovation, empower employees and demonstrates listening, empathy and stewardship.
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4) Embed a learning culture from the beginning

Research says that 76% of staff are more likely to commit to an organisation that offers continuous learning opportunities throughout their tenure, so why it is the norm for companies to only provide training and L&D opportunities at the beginning of a new role?

Learning and development should be embedded at the beginning of someone’s career journey and then seen as a continuous journey that both employers and employees continue together.

Today’s workplace consists of a whopping five different generations and it’s simply impossible for everyone to be an expert in everything, so to keep your staff working to the best of their ability and ensure they are knowledgeable and skilled in their fields, continuous learning is essential.

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5) Home in on the professionals and ask your L&D teams how they learn and relearn

Having excellent training programmes and strategies in place is one thing, however, as experienced learning and development leaders or general leaders and managers, self reflection is an extremely valuable tool.

Ask the professionals in your business how they best learn and how you have come to adopt the skills that they currently hold?

Try and implement some of these learning techniques into your programmes and initiatives because at the end of the day, these people professionals have gotten to this stage in their career somehow, and continuous learning will have had a large part to play in it.

So, with increased automation in the workplace, information readily available at our fingertips and a workplace that is entirely different to what it was five years ago, continuous learning should be an integral part of every organisation’s culture.

A culture that enables creative thinking, diverse opinions and makes room for life experiences, is a company that will remain competitive in an ever-changing working environment.


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