How to Integrate Lifelong Learning into Your Company Culture

Learning and development have become the lifeblood of organizations, especially as digital transformation continues to evolve. Certainly, during the pandemic, companies are asking their employees to learn new skills, adapt and grow in the most efficient way possible.

Human Resources took over the task of helping everyone navigate the new systems and processes and any associated learning. Organizations that scale with agility had already made L&D a top priority long before the arrival of COVID-19. For these companies, learning and development already meant more than a checklist of technical skills to pass on to new hires. Instead, learning is part of their culture. It’s in their DNA.

Questions and answers with an expert on lifelong learning

Recently, Dr Bonnie Cheuk, Senior Business and Digital Transformation Manager at AstraZeneca (AZ), shared her thoughts with HR Exchange Network on how to provide employees with the means to immerse themselves and become lifelong learners. of life. For over 15 years, Cheuk worked for multinational companies in Hong Kong, Singapore, USA, UK and other parts of Europe.

She joined AstraZeneca as Senior Director responsible for helping to reinvent the drug development process with a focus on the introduction of knowledge and collaboration technologies. The author of “Social Strategies in Action: Driving Business Transformation” (Ark Group, 2013), Cheuk says you can’t force people to educate themselves or even tell them to learn something. Rather, we need to help them make learning part of their job and second nature to their habits, she adds.

Cheuk will be a guest speaker in November during an interactive session, “How to Implement Learning Agility,” at the 2021 HR Exchange Live: Corporate Learning EMEA online event. It will draw on its expertise in change management, digital transformation and innovation. Her session will focus on understanding the five work habits needed to support learning agility, assess how to keep employees hooked on lifelong learning, and prepare the workforce for the future. .

Respond to rapid change

See how Cheuk suggests leaders guide employees to take action and embrace the practice of lifelong learning:

HREN: Why learn throughout life? Why is it so important to get employees to buy into and truly engage in lifelong learning?

BC: The world is changing rapidly. Digital has triggered new business models, new ways of meeting a customer’s needs. How can each employee respond to these changes?

Knowledge workers must learn to be explorers and navigators. The way you learn in a complex and unpredictable world is different from how you learn in a stable and certain world, which is why lifelong learning is important. It allows you to adapt, adjust, and thrive in a changing world.

HREN: How do you promote a culture of lifelong learning in the workplace?

BC: We invite our colleagues to reinvent their definition of learning by focusing on the three Es, which are education, exposure and experience. We focus on formal training programs, but also on connecting people and learning together. Our goal is to provide them with an experience so that they can apply what they have learned on the job in real time.

We define learning agility as a critical capacity within AstraZeneca. The definition is made up of two parts. The first part is the ability and willingness to learn, and the second is the willingness to apply what one has recently learned in an unfamiliar context. A culture of lifelong learning is about learning while doing our job.

Discover the learning models

So I presented to my organization the five work habits rather than the learning habits. These are habits that you apply to conquer your daily work and when you collaborate, converse and work together.

These five work habits are:

• Learn and network
• Self-reflection / teamwork
• Spirit of innovation and growth
• Psychological security
• Inclusive meetings and collaboration

When you apply these habits to your work, you learn, you unlearn, and you naturally reinvent yourself. We encourage three AstraZeneca behaviors that lead to learning and unlearning:

• To be curious.
• Be collaborative.
• Be brave.

We organize immersive workshops to invite people to practice these habits in groups. People learn together, without teachers. We don’t teach people these work habits. We immerse them in the experience of adopting these habits, so that they can apply them to their own work context and to team meetings.

Ultimately, you are in the driver’s seat to change your work and your life. Make these five work habits part of your daily work. You will learn, unlearn and evolve continuously. As a result, you will be able to face any unknown situation and be ready for the future. The best advice is to be human-centered, both to yourself and to others.

Take control of your learning

HREN: How is the challenge of learning / unlearning made more difficult by teleworkers?

BC: There are challenges when face-to-face meetings are not possible. So you need to pay attention to your colleague’s needs and feelings, ask more probing questions, invite people to speak openly about their views, and create a sense of belonging and place, even if you are not. not physically in the same place.

It requires the five work habits and their intentional practice in an online space. For example, in online meetings, take a break and give everyone time to brainstorm and write their ideas in the chat. Make it a ritual at the meeting to say, “I’d like to hear your objections.” It’s to help people feel more comfortable and so they don’t feel like ‘the challenger’.

Deliberate work out loud. Post raw ideas or challenges online, so others know and can connect or collaborate with you. If people don’t know what you’re thinking in a distributed world, they can’t give you advice. But you have to take the first step to be courageous, to work out loud.

HREN: What are the biggest mistakes when it comes to implementing learning agility?

BC: The biggest mistake is telling people they need to be nimble learners. You cannot train people to learn. You need them to be motivated. Learning is personal. It has to start with a person’s dreams, passions, and goals for it to be meaningful to them.

Don’t focus on “learning” as a destination. Learning is the input to doing a job, and the result of the job is learning that you can apply it to the next context. Learning happens while you do your job. Can you incorporate rituals or processes to invite your team members to practice these five work habits in their work?

Focus on work and performance. Learning is a way to get a job done and fulfill your dreams or passions. Lifelong learning should be self-taught and self-directed. No one is going to give you the whole program every day of your life. You have to take control. Self motivation is the key.

Register to attend 2021 Corporate Learning EMEA event to participate in Cheuk session and others