Developing A Learning Culture: Supporting Business And Empowering Employees

Valérie Vézinhet

As the pace of transformation accelerates, companies must move from a culture where upgrading skills is part of change management to a genuine learning culture in which skills development is a central consideration for all business leaders and employees.

There are three main characteristics of a learning culture:

1. Employees are both learners and teachers

Learning and teaching must be continuous and embedded in day-to-day activities, not just one-off events associated with training. Training, in its classical definition, frequently leads to a strong initial engagement but is not necessarily adopted back in the office. Learning cultures incorporate the 90/10 model, in which 90% of the learning is done via practice, experience, and interaction and 10% through formal learning (training and workshops).

The peer learning program at SAP enables employees to help each other and create an environment in which each person learns and teaches by becoming an in-house coach, being mentored or mentoring, job shadowing, engaging in fellowship opportunities, and more.

2. Employees take responsibility for development and career progression

The time when managers took sole responsibility for employee development is over. Employees now hold the reins of their careers, developing their own employability by building their own development plan, identifying appropriate training, and managing their training schedule. Leaders must coach their teams while being guardians of the company’s strategic priorities. This shift in ownership implies an evolution of the training function in human resources departments, redefining this as learning rather than training.

3. Technology and collaboration are central to the organization

The third dimension of this culture is innovation. Online open source content has become enormously rich, notably via the platforms of MOOCs that offer university content (e.g., Coursera), or even via companies themselves (e.g., openSAP), replacing traditional classical training models. Today, technological innovations are accelerating new ways of learning: mobile terminals, the cloud, a better understanding of the effective modes of learning provided by neuroscience, as well as the digital-first behaviors of millennials. These create an increasing demand for innovative and informal approaches to learning. The move toward collaborative approaches, internal social tools (SAP Jam), integrated training management systems (LMS), team activities, and peer learning is accelerating. Learning has become mobile and the demand for continuous and instantaneous access has increased as a result.

Gamification, peer networking communities, information sharing, and informal coaching are replacing traditional face-to-face and online learning. Companies must adapt to ensure that their learning culture supports their business goals and empowers their most important resource: their people.

To learn more about how SAP is creating a learning culture, visit the careers section of

Valérie Vézinhet

About Valérie Vézinhet

Valérie Vézinhet is Head of Human Resources (EMEA North) at SAP.