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It’s a sad state of affairs.

According to recent research, only 41 percent of employees say their company offers them chance to grow. The "Workforce 2020" findings, created by Oxford Economics and SAP, surveyed more than 5,400 executives and employees from 27 countries worldwide and makes clear just how many companies not only don’t help their employees grow, they stunt their organizational growth in the process. By contrast, the study found that high-performing companies, which enjoyed superior financial results over the past three years, put their workforce first - more likely to provide supplemental learning programs as a benefit, offer a mentoring program and have workforce issues drive strategy at the board level, just to name a few examples.

Where Does It Start? With a Great Learning Culture

In 2010, Bersin by Deloitte published findings that the single biggest driver of business impact is the strength of an organization's learning culture. In The Corporate Learning Factbook 2013, the firm went further, citing that companies with strong learning cultures are 42 percent more likely to be innovative, have 37 percent greater employee productivity, are 35 percent more responsive to customers’ needs and 17 percent more likely to be market share leaders. Learning culture was again emphasized in the firm’s Predictions for 2015.

So what’s a great learning culture?

It’s more than just providing great learning opportunities or employees taking advantage of them, although of course both are important. Your employees devote more time to your organization than to doing anything else. They want to feel that time is well spent, that they are contributing in some way to your customers and your mission.

Great learning cultures equip people to do just that, sparking employees’ curiosity, creativity and commitment to make themselves smarter and better every day. Great learning cultures attract and retain top talent because they empower them to learn, grow, realize their potential and make a difference.

A strong learning culture can drive critically important employee engagement, which has similarly powerful impact on financial results. According to findings published by the Great Place to Work Institute earlier this year, highly engaged companies hire more easily, deliver stronger customer service, have lower voluntary turnover and are more profitable over the long run.

Here are two mantras that can reflect a learning culture:

  • "Everyone is a teacher and everyone is a learner" – Everyone has a responsibility to help each other grow, and learning is a way of life, not an event.
  • "Everyone is a talent" - Each individual employee has value to contribute and deserves the chance to be fully enabled to grow a meaningful career.

Great Leaders Know that Learning Means Business.

Research is increasingly clear. Talent-driven organizations, where employees are highly engaged and consistently empowered, win in the marketplace. Companies that don’t invest in engaging and empowering their workforce pay the price. Most companies are probably somewhere in between, and the difference just may be training leaders who will champion this critical cause. When those at the top of an organization understand that employees performing at their best drive the best results, it’s a natural instinct to create a strong learning culture and derive the benefits that follow. If your leaders haven’t already developed those instincts, help them get there.

To learn more about the importance of simplification in the workplace, check out the HR Simple Truths Digital Hub. From research studies to customer stories and webinars, there are a number of assets to take advantage of.

This piece originally published on