Unlock Your Team’s Potential With A Learning Culture

By Diane Domeyer

Diane Domeyer is executive director of the creative and marketing practice at Robert Half, which connects professionals with companies hiring in creative, marketing, digital, advertising and public relations.

About Robert Half

Know The Creative Group, your source for specialized creative and marketing talent solutions and job opportunities? Then you already know Robert Half, The Creative Group’s parent brand.When you see communications or content from the primary Robert Half brand, know that they’re from the same creative and marketing experts you’re familiar with, ready as ever to support your contract, temporary and permanent hiring or job search needs. Find your next creative hire or creative opportunity at roberthalf.com

•          •         •

Since the pandemic began, businesses have worked tirelessly to navigate the new business landscape. Months of uncertainty and unprecedented challenges have led to professional development falling by the wayside for many in-house creative and marketing teams.

Managers know that helping employees grow in their careers is vital for attracting and retaining top talent. And with nearly half (49%) of creatives rating their company’s training resources as fair or poor in a recent survey by talent solutions firm Robert Half and AIGA, the professional association for design, this is clearly an issue that needs to be addressed.

The good news is that 4 out of 5 creative leaders expect training budgets to increase this year, according to a separate Robert Half survey. However, you can’t close your training and development gaps with funding alone. If you want to inspire your employees to reach their full potential, establishing a learning culture in your organization is key.

Why creative teams thrive in a learning environment

In the age of automation, human qualities like creativity are needed more than ever. Whether designing a new product, drawing up a blueprint or planning a marketing strategy, creative professionals are judged on their ability to develop original ideas and transform them into profitable reality.

As a creative leader, you can help your team rise to this challenge by embracing a culture of continuous learning. This kind of environment often:

  • Sparks innovation — Innovation can’t be forced, but it can be nurtured in the right setting. Organizations receptive to new ideas can better adapt and grow, especially in times of disruption. When the going gets tough, they pursue new opportunities to stay ahead of the curve.
  • Increases agility — The rapid pace of advancing technology means existing tools, skills and processes can quickly become obsolete. Creative firms with a culture of learning have a workforce that’s less resistant to change and can easily introduce new systems or react quickly to market demands.
  • Encourages problem-solving — When people come together to achieve a common goal, the likelihood of success multiplies. Encouraging creative teams to collaborate and learn from each other allows them to draw on different knowledge to develop workable solutions.
  • Fills your skills gaps — As firms grow, they inevitably take on projects requiring skills they don’t currently possess. A culture of continuous learning enables your creatives to advance their skill sets and satisfy new demands as they arise.
  • Boosts morale — Happy workers are more productive. By giving employees the chance to learn and develop, they feel more motivated, energized and invested in your firm.

5 ways creative leaders can encourage professional development

Whether you’re a small in-house design team or a large creative agency, company values filter down from the top. Leaders must create an environment of opportunity where creativity can flourish. Here are seven ways to help make that happen:

  1. Listen and learn. When it comes to career paths, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Ask your employees what’s important to them and what they want to learn — and compare your own team’s upskilling priorities with those of their industrywide peers. According to the Robert Half and AIGA survey, creatives are currently most interested in:
    • Animation and motion graphics
    • UX/UI design and research
    • App or web/mobile design and development
    • Brand design
    • Data visualization


  1. Find out what they need. What would help your staff achieve their potential? It could be something simple, like giving them extra time in their week for a training. Or it could be more complex, like providing access to 3D design tools powered by artificial intelligence. When analyzing the cost-benefit of any such actions, don’t forget to count intangibles like improved employee engagement and morale.


  1. Challenge your team. Rather than allowing staff to stay within their comfort zones, give them stretch assignments that push them in new directions. Junior workers need opportunities to hone their technical skills. More seasoned professionals should be encouraged to develop leadership qualities or research niche areas like post-pandemic typographical trends.


  1. Empower your employees. A good manager focuses on the what, not the how, giving their team the autonomy to come up with creative solutions and complete the task. By resisting the urge to micromanage, you end up with workers who are confident in their abilities and able to think for themselves.


  1. Learn from within. Training budgets might be tight right now, but there are still ways to help current employees develop. Partner junior creatives with experienced mentors to provide support, encouragement and guidance. Job-rotation programs can also be a cost-effective way to broaden knowledge across company departments.


Embracing a continuous learning culture is a small investment when you consider the potential return: a stable, motivated and skilled talent force. Many creative professionals worry that their careers stalled during the pandemic. Now’s the perfect time to show your team that you believe in them.