7 Ways HR Facilitates the Learning Curve

Organizations exist to create value. In turn, organizational value is created through people.

It is unfortunate then, that too many organizations rarely associate value with their employees. Creating value through people entails complex processes that are best left to HR professionals. After all, apart from psychologists, who else is better trained to identify and measure (so to speak) human judgments, attitudes and perceptions?

Value and quality are two sides of the same coin; value is created through people, while quality is a function of learning. This implies that quality services or products are offered by organizations that invest in learning. Indeed, Kapp (1999) observed that organizations that learned faster always had a competitive advantage.

The “learning curve,” also known as a productivity curve, describes the rate at which individuals progress as they acquire new skills or experiences. Learning curves affect efficiency and quality. For example, when fresh college graduates undertake similar tasks over a period of time, they become better in terms of outputs and efficiency. The results are increased output, coupled with reduced effort and cost.

HR Is Key to Competitive Curve

Undoubtedly, HR professionals can influence, encourage and enable staff learning using both internal and external means. The process of structuring an organization’s learning is a professional HR team’s forte. Internal methods include doing something repeatedly, using equipment regularly or taking advantage of scientific or technological advancements. External learning methods include interactions with others, active searching and inter-industry spillovers.

Structured learning requires clearly stipulated learning steps for different employees, and where advanced steps deliberately build on previously acquired knowledge. You can enhance your organization’s competitive advantage through harnessing its unique capabilities, largely found in its people.

Most organizations are keen to cultivate a loyal and profitable customer base to improve competitive advantage. However, the proof of an organization totally committed to overall success is in the continuous development of a loyal and productive workforce. The A major goal of HR is ensuring organizations achieve success through people. Authors Ulrich and Lake (1990) noted that “HRM systems can be the source of organizational capabilities that allow firms to learn and capitalize on new opportunities”.

7 Ways HR Drives Learning

We now consider seven ways in which professional HR facilitate an organization’s learning curve.

  1. Competent Assessments of Organizational Competencies: It takes skill to recognize critical skill deficiencies among employees. Using appropriate systems for HR data collection and analysis you can accurately identify staff capabilities and critical skills’ gaps. Professional HR systems also enable HR to propose, plan and implement the best course of learning and development actions to enhance staff competency levels.
  2. Motivation and Performance Management: To a great extent, organizational capability depends on staff motivation. Motivation influences people’s commitment to work and contributes to high performance levels. According to the two most popular motivation theories, intrinsic motivation and expectancy theory, human motivation is either self-generated or influenced by the expectation of rewards. Intrinsic or self-generated reasons that influence motivation at work could arise from the job itself (e.g. job roles that utilize employees’ multiple skills). For rewards-induced motivation, it pays to understand that different people have different needs, wants and goals. While financial rewards work well for most employees, non-financial rewards like flexible working hours can also enhance motivation. An organization with highly motivated employees generally has a gentle learning curve due to low staff turnover. HR attends to employees’ motivational factors by developing or updating policies and practices associated with motivation and reward. You can start today by implementing these hot tips to reward staff well.
  3. Encouraging Employee Satisfaction and Loyalty: Employee satisfaction is considered a prerequisite for customer satisfaction, especially for service organizations. It directly affects organizational performance and profitability. HR encourages employee satisfaction by developing workplace policies that promote fairness, encourage work-life balance and show genuine interest in employees’ goals. You can also encourage loyalty using other simple ways that increase employee satisfaction. Employees who feel valued are proud to be associated with the organization, and tend to go overboard on matters duty. Satisfied and loyal employees also acquire an inherent need to keep learning.
  4. Facilitating Continuous Staff Development: People are integral to any organization. Their growth has a direct effect on organizational performance and outputs. Advanced training and structured work exposure programs have a positive impact on the professional and, sometimes, the personal well-being of employees. By delivering on its mandate to develop and implement staff development programs, HR encourages the retention of highly-developed human capital, facilitating the learning curve. An organization with a high percentage of highly-skilled and long-serving staff, incurs lower learning and development costs in the long run.
  5. Encouraging Commitment to Goals: Sometimes even the most competent and productive employee needs to be urged on, for optimal performance to be achieved. There are numerous ways in which professional HR can encourage staff to commit to active pursuit of agreed goals. By ensuring there are effective channels of communication across staff hierarchies, HR helps to improve the rate at which information flows. This helps to recognize any staff member that is veering off track early enough. HR can also champion the progression towards a flexible and adaptable organizational structure, one which encourages personal commitment to goals and professional development by employees. Commitment to growth enables a smooth learning curve.
  6. Managing Organizational Knowledge: Organizational knowledge provides a competitive advantage and its management is critical for facilitating smooth learning curves. HR plays a role in this by ensuring that the knowledge currently existent within the organization is retained, despite staff exits. Professional HR develops knowledge management tools that enable effective acquisition, retention and dissemination of knowledge. For example, by aptly assessing career intentions, it is possible to develop succession plans that enable the acquisition and retention of specialized knowledge owned by a staff member who may soon exit the organization.
  7. Becoming a Strategic Business Partner: HR can propel any business organization to higher heights when integrated as a strategic business partner. As a strategic partner, HR oversees the strategic implementation of people issues into the organization’s overall strategic plan. As a result, the overall organizational strategy becomes aligned to the needs of the business and those of its people, transforming the organization into a holistic one. Holistic organizations tend to be learning organizations that continuously innovate to remain competitive.

Gone are the days when HR roles were limited to workforce planning, careful recruitment of high skills and abilities, and talent management. The modern HR contributes immensely to bottom lines and overall organizational performance by managing the learning and development processes of all the people attached to the organization.



Rajesh Bihani is SEO manager at for peoplehr.com.

Armstrong M, (2011), Handbook of Strategic Human Resource Management
Baron A, (2007), Human Capital Management: Achieving Added Value through People
Jaber MY, (2016), Learning Curves: Theory, Models, and Applications
Mathis RL, Jackson JH, Valentine SR, & Meglich P. (2016). Human Resource Management
Mayo A (2016), Human Resources or Human Capital?: Managing People as Assets


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