Why Building a Lifelong Learning Culture Is Challenging and How to Be Successful

Building a culture of lifelong learning is key to an organization’s long-term viability and can be a way to ensure that your workforce is future ready. Yet, transforming an organization’s values, beliefs, and norms that influence learning behavior and outcomes can be a challenge; long-held beliefs or ingrained ways of doing things aren’t changeable overnight.

The flipside is that your employees are likely hungry to learn. In fact, in a recent SAP survey as part of our Building a Culture of Lifelong Learning research, 69% of respondents said they would need to learn new technical and professional skills to do their current job in the future. Add to that the fact that organizations and employees are dealing with remote and hybrid working environments means that learning needs to be accessible and easy to find. Furthermore, organizations are still looking for the best ways to personalize and engage learners. While there are many learning experience platforms in the market that can help with this, they may not have the depth and breadth of a solution like SAP SuccessFactors Work Zone, which can help provide unified access not just to content from SAP SuccessFactors Learning, but across other applications and processes.

Moreover, a strong learning culture should incorporate a “pull” rather than a “push” mentality. A “pull” learning culture is one in which employees are inspired to learn because of their own interests and desires. They actively seek out learning on topics or areas that are of interest to them, either professionally or personally. In a “pull” culture, the learner takes charge of their learning. On the other hand, a “push” learning culture is one in which employees are required to engage in learning and development activities. This includes taking mandatory compliance or health and safety training courses. And while training like this is necessary and often essential, the fact remains that the learner is not given a choice. Making the change from a “push” to a predominantly “pull” learning culture will require planning and support from management, including modeling this behavior.

Certainly, the role of technology can’t be overlooked. Even in a “pull” model, having to go into multiple systems to find relevant content makes learning a chore; technology should be something that enables learning, not something that makes it harder. On top of that, the way we work and learn has changed – from where and when we work to how we work, learn, and grow – and that experience is shaped by a number of things. But the greatest impact to experience are the digital tools and processes that enable us to do our best work and be our best selves.

IDC’s latest survey shows that an unfulfilling employee experience is the second major cause of employee churn. But what does a great experience mean when it comes to employees feeling supported by technology? You can empower your employees by having the right digital resources and information in place, giving them the guidance they need, and helping them to connect. A fragmented employee experience is still the reality in most organizations, and removing barriers like having to switch between different applications is key. Finally, you can empower them by providing learning in the flow of work so employees get the skills they want and the business needs. In today’s changing world of work, employees expect better experiences – especially when it comes to their learning, development, and growth.

SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace helps employees discover, in one place, recommendations to fuel their ongoing career development and growth – learning, roles, projects, dynamic teams, mentors, mentor programs, and peer connections. At the same time, leaders can gain increased visibility and a better understanding of the strengths and capabilities of their people and teams. The potential gains for individuals and organizations are immense, like increased retention and engagement and ongoing adaptability that will keep people and companies growing and ready for change.

Learn how SAP SuccessFactors solutions and SAP SuccessFactors Work Zone can help build a powerful learning culture that leverages technology more efficiently.


Margit Bauer is director of Solution Marketing at SAP SE.
Mark Tarallo is a solution marketing fellow at SAP.