Corporate Learning: How the Whole Company Learns and Benefits

Stefan Schulze

Employees in corporate learning
VIDEO With english subtitles

Fruit basket, fresh coffee, training opportunities – are these all nice-to-have benefits? No! Further training is far more than just a perk for employees. Corporate learning is a central building block for the future viability of a company. We explain why and how learning in companies solves challenges. Plus: a best practice example and 10 practical tips for a successful learning culture in your company.

What Is Corporate Learning and What Is Its Goal?

Corporate learning encompasses traditional and digital educational offerings and methods that companies use to promote the skills of their workforce through training and ongoing development. This includes on-site training and e-learning formats.

The fundamental aim of corporate learning is to ensure the future viability and competitiveness of the company.

More concretely, this means that internal know-how is not only retained, but also grows within the organization through a company-wide further training offering. Such sustainable knowledge management enables companies to:

  • Develop internal experts and pass on knowledge,
  • Strengthen employee loyalty and subsequently prevent the shortage of skilled workers,
  • Successfully manage transformation and change processes and
  • Develop into a learning organization in the long term.


Responsibility for the management and provision of learning opportunities lies with the Learning and Development (L&D) department or the HR development department.

However, depending on the size and strategy of the company, these departments may not necessarily exist. In these cases, responsibility for corporate learning usually lies with HR.

Why Corporate Learning Is Challenging but Important

Especially when training measures have to be developed from scratch, it can be challenging to establish a functioning learning culture. And even if learning is already part of the corporate strategy, initiatives are needed to drive continuous development.

The challenges of corporate may include:

  • Developing learning content and formats:
    What training should employees receive? Should the training take place online or on site? The needs of employees can vary greatly and should still be met as individually as possible.
  • Integrating learning into everyday working life:
    Workplaces and routines sometimes look very different. What they all usually have in common: busy calendars and commitments. Further training should be designed in such a way that it fits in between deadlines and to-dos.
  • Increasing motivation to learn and keeping it high:
    No matter how ingenious a continuing education program may be, if it is not used, it does not benefit the company or the (non-)learners. To boost engagement, content should be as motivating as possible and packaged in suitable formats.

The Masterplan Upskilling Study 2024 identifies more fundamental challenges in further training: For more than half of the around 250 DACH companies surveyed, a lack of time among employees dominates (55%), closely followed by a lack of/too little understanding of future-relevant skills (49%) and a lack of resources (41%).

Why so much effort? Well… because it's worth it in the long run! 

By 2030, there will be a shortage of around 85 million qualified workers worldwide. Companies will soon be confronted with a shortage of skilled workers – if not already.

The best way to protect yourself against this is to promote your own talents and experts and support their talents within the company. Corporate learning or an offer for personal development is one of the most effective measures for employee retention.

After all, 94% of respondents to a LinkedIn survey stated that they would have stayed longer with their last employer if it had invested in their professional development and training.

Further advantages of corporate learning are:

  • Growing expertise within the organization,
  • Increasing productivity through improved skills,
  • Greater adaptability in the face of unknown challenges and
  • Improved future viability and competitiveness of the entire company.

Anyone who still sees further training as a benefit alongside a fruit basket and coffee machine should better rethink their approach as quickly as possible!

Central Tasks in Corporate Learning

In order to turn an attractive training program into a functioning learning culture, actionable measures are needed at various levels.

This is because corporate learning encompasses communicative, strategic and content-related areas of responsibility:

Communication & Support

Conduct internal marketing: 

In order to build a learning mindset and keep employees' motivation to learn, regular learning incentives and activating training initiatives are needed. The more attractive the learning program is and the more it is communicated, the more it will be used.

Support managers:

Team leads, department heads and heads of department can act as role models for corporate learning. If a manager is convinced of the added value of upskilling measures, they will also invest in encouraging their teams to take part in further training.

Promote knowledge exchange: 

Sharing knowledge within the workforce is always extremely valuable. By offering learning communities and social learning formats, employees can be encouraged to share their know-how with other team members and departments.

Doing persuasive work:

Decision-makers at the C-level need to be taken on board and convinced of learning. The Return on Learning, i.e. the expected and measurable learning effects for the company, provides strong arguments in favor of expanding development measures.

Strategy & Organization

Create framework conditions:

For corporate learning to work at all levels, all employees should be given necessary learning time. It must also be ensured that everyone has access to learning opportunities and can find relevant content that fits into their work context.

Integrate into workflows:

From the production hall to the home office, learning should be able to take place at any work location and flexible to any calendar. Solutions need to be found for this, for example in the form of digital learning opportunities and short learning units.

Provide technology:

Face-to-face training is increasingly being supplemented with online training and webinars. Employees need at least a laptop, tablet or smartphone to take part in these training sessions. Better still, they are provided with a digital learning platform that can be accessed around the clock and from anywhere.

Identify learning needs:

For effective upskilling, it is important to know where the skill gaps are in the company and what requirements are placed on the individual jobs, roles and positions. Learning needs should be identified for every individual throughout the company.

Which skills will everyone need in the future? Discover the seven power skills! →

Learning Content & Formats

Design a learning program:

Once the learning needs and objectives are known, the next step is to plan the program. Questions to ask may include, what training should be offered, how often and in what format will they be delivered, what methods will be used?

Create learning paths:

Standardized learning paths are suitable for recurring training courses. These are especially important for mandatory training and onboarding, which can be quickly adapted and easily assigned to the right learners.

Procure training material:

The content of the learning offer can be made up of various materials. Existing training materials can be prepared in an appealing way, external courses can be purchased or even completely new forms of learning can be developed. 

Maintain a learning portfolio:

Depending on the topic, certain learning content must be regularly curated and updated. If a learning platform with external content is used, it is usually updated regularly by the platform provider.

Graphic: Corporate Learning Tasks

What Has Proven Successful for Corporate Learning and Which Learning Trends Are Emerging?

Whether internal, external, online or offline, all measures that support and enable learning within the company are part of the corporate learning toolbox. 

However, there are a few measures that are particularly successful and promising for skills development and knowledge sharing within the company:

The All-Round Solution: E-Learning

According to an e-learning benchmark study, 92% of companies state that they are already using digital learning and a further 4% are planning to start doing so.

E-learning is the most flexible solution for further training in the company. Training courses can be organized and assigned digitally. Content can be accessed at any time and learners can take part in training courses from anywhere. E-learning is therefore, scalable for companies of all sizes!

That being said, the big question that companies should ask themselves is not whether they need a learning platform, but which solution is right for them: LMS or LXP – or LEP?

Online Meets offline: Blended Learning

Blended Learning combines digital forms of learning with face-to-face training. The combination of different formats makes learning more varied and corporate learning even more attractive.

The implementation of blended learning can be flexibly adapted to the needs of the learners. On-site training can be integrated as a prelude or conclusion to a workshop, which is supplemented by online courses. They can also be integrated into a digital learning path.

Learning in Small Bites: Microlearning

Employees rarely have the time (and motivation) to fit several hours of training into their daily routine without postponing important projects and tasks. This makes it all the more effective to impart skills and areas of knowledge in small portions.

Several studies have come to the conclusion that this form of knowledge transfer is successful. Microlearning therefore involves breaking down content into small learning chunks that can be read or viewed in just a few minutes. 

Entertainment as a Learning Booster: Gamification

Monologic lectures or monotonous seminars are hardly conducive to successful corporate learning. The learning effect is higher when knowledge is explained in interactive formats and engaging courses.

Compact quizzes allow learners to repeat and consolidate what they have learned. Learning points for completed lessons and levels increase motivation and encourage the completion of further courses.

Individualized Training & Direct Feedback: AI Learning Coaches

Artificial intelligence is also a smart solution in HR, especially for the individual training of employees. For effective knowledge transfer, for example, learners can use AI-based learning coaches to apply their knowledge in practical work scenarios.

In chat mode, learners can negotiate, argue or reflect with the AI, ask questions and offer solutions. Finally, they receive direct, personalized feedback and practical tips on how to improve.

Practical Example: This Is How Corporate Learning Can Look Like

100 minutes of average learning time per month per user – and all of that achieved with more than 35,000 learning employees!

The Otto Group is a prime example of successful corporate learning. With the Learning Engagement Platform from Masterplan, the company is driving digital transformation at all levels. The focus here is on the use of artificial intelligence.

"The core element of any transformation is continuous learning. Especially now in the age of AI, where the speed of change is even greater, it is important to promote precisely this attitude, make people eager to learn and then offer the right teaching content."
Alexander Birken, CEO of the Otto Group

What the e-commerce giant does particularly well is that, despite the extremely heterogeneous workforce, the learning opportunities reach all employees. The company has created hundreds of learning paths with self-produced video courses that can be assigned to individual learning groups as needed.

Masterplan Customer Story: Successful transformation at Otto Group

In Summary: 10 Tips for Successful Corporate Learning

We believe that corporate learning is not a perk, but an absolute must-have for a successful future.

Investing in it pays off in terms of employee retention, competitiveness and the ability to transform.

To make this work, here are 10 helpful tips:

  1. Provide figures
    Especially when it comes to budgets – with concrete figures you show that a learning offer is not an expense, but an investment.
  2. Find multipliers
    Focus on convincing managers of the benefits of learning, especially at the beginning.
  3. Get everyone on board
    In a learning organization, everyone learns, really everyone! From production to the executive floor. 
  4. Introduce a culture of error
    You often learn the most from your mistakes. So encourage experimentation (and failure).
  5. Reinforce the minimum
    Not everyone immediately sees the added value of training. Show them the benefits as often, as clearly and as well as you can.
  6. Pursue a learning strategy
    Formulate as clearly as possible what the (partial) goals of upskilling are and how you want to achieve them.
  7. Start small
    Test new training and learning formats in small groups before rolling them out across the entire company.
  8. Train individually
    Every workforce is heterogeneous. So don't build one training course for everyone, but find role-specific learning solutions.
  9. Provide learning impulses
    Even if you repeat yourself – persevere and keep drawing attention to the learning opportunities.
  10. Encourage the exchange of knowledge
    Encourage people to share what they have learned. Be creative and invent new forms of learning!


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Stefan Schulze

Stefan Schulze is Content Marketing Manager at Masterplan. In the blog, he explains important terms from the L&D and HR world and writes about methods, concepts and developments in corporate learning.

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