Forget Training – Focus on Learning


The corporate learning and development industry is enormous. According to HR Industry Analyst Josh Bersin, companies spend over $130B on corporate training worldwide. Furthermore, many job seekers and employees cite learning and training opportunities as characteristics they look for when choosing places of employment.


However, despite the enormous amount of money that companies spend on their employee training efforts, results do not always come easy. 80% of training is forgotten in less than 30 days. As organizations learn and refine ways to deliver training, employees need not stand idle – instead of training, employees should focus on learning.


What’s the difference? According to John Hall, a business gives training to its employees in exchange for something in return (usually tied to business results.) Learning, on the other hand, is something you invest in so that your employees and your team get better.


Or better said, according to LinkedIn Chief Learning Officer Kelly Palmer, it’s this:


“Training is transactional, learning is transformational.”


According to Kelly, when employees can learn, “they feel valued and know that they are not only gaining skills for their current job, but also for their future careers. Employees tend to want to stay at companies where they feel valued and where people care about their career.”


Creating a culture of learning certainly is an investment, but pays off when it comes to employee engagement and winning the war for top talent, which is why leaders of organizations who care about fostering a great workforce should invest in learning today. Furthermore, employees who care about personal growth and development should take action to increase their learning.


My hope is that more employers can see the value of creating a culture of learning, and they begin to take steps like LinkedIn has taken to instill this culture. However, employees shouldn’t hold their breath to wait for this to happen. Instead, those employees who care about their personal development and growth should focus on what they can do to learn. Why is learning important? I see three easy benefits:


  • It will help you do your job better every day.
  • It will help you become more engaged in what you do.
  • It will open you up to ideas and opportunities.


And perhaps most importantly, it will help you provide even more value to your company.


I like to say that for knowledge workers, the value you provide is equal to your own knowledge and experiences. The richer your knowledge and experiences, the more value you can provide.


Learning is important because it helps you capture new knowledge and increases the number and quality of experiences. The combination of those two increases the value you can provide to your colleagues and your company.

  • Read – Absorb as much knowledge as you can. Read about topics that are relevant to your profession and even ones that aren’t. I also include “watch” with read, so online courses and e-learnings can be included in this too. With resources like SlideShare, Lynda, and Coursera, social media sites like Twitter, and curation apps like Nuzzel, Pocket, and Flipboard, it is easy and virtually cost-free to find and save relevant content.
  • Meet – One great way to learn is from others, so go out and connect with other people to hear what they have to say. Their experiences and knowledge can be imparted to you and add insight and perspective you didn’t previously have. Again, social media sites (LinkedIn) are great for finding people relevant to your profession.
  • Teach – When you’ve mastered a topic, share it with others. Teaching something enables you to gain a much better understanding of a particular topic or issue, and helping others learn is something your colleagues will appreciate. Whether it’s through an informal presentation to your colleagues, or even writing and sharing your thoughts digitally on platforms liked LinkedIn, SlideShare, or Udemy, there are plenty of tools to share what you know and plenty of people to share it with.


It’d be great if all companies treated learning like LinkedIn does. Doing so will help companies build a winning culture, which will ultimately attract – and help them keep – the best and brightest people.


Until that happens, consider creating your own culture of learning, so, like LinkedIn employees, you can have transformational experiences and increase personal engagement in your work. Doing so will allow you to develop, grow, and open yourself up to new opportunities and experiences, all while increasing your ability to provide value to the people you work with and the organization you represent.