Smart entrepreneurs know that to remain competitive and innovative in today's rapidly changing environment, a flexible, adaptable culture is necessary. This includes a serious update to the old-fashioned methods of learning that no longer appeal to employees who crave a modern-day learning culture.

When leaders establish and foster a collaborative learning culture within their organizations, it's known to result in a happier, more productive workforce, also leading to higher employee retention rates. In addition to low turnover, it makes the recruitment of top talent far more attainable.

Mike Conner, chief evangelist of BlueBottleBiz, a collaborative learning platform for business professionals, understands the benefits a learning culture. "The more companies live up to the demand of optimal learning experiences, the more loyal employees become--and the longer they stick around," says Conner. During his eight years with Safari he maintained a single-digit turnover rate, which he credits to the collaborative learning environment that he carefully constructed.

If you want to recruit and retain top talent, now is a good time to give your employees what they crave: a flexible culture that supports and encourages personal and professional growth. Here are Conner's tips to begin building your shared learning culture:

Provide flexibility.

Gone are the days where employees clock in at 9 a.m. and out at 5 p.m. Employers are continuing to adopt flexibility when it comes to schedules, whether the perk be working from home or picking and choosing hours to log in. Like work schedules, employees crave freedom to learn when and where it's most convenient for them. Traditional learning programs follow set schedules, provide specific course curriculum and often times involve solitude. By moving to a learning program that offers employees opportunities to learn when they want, where they want, and by the means of their choosing (video, lean courses, etc.), employees will be more likely to actively engage in the experience. Increased engagement leads to higher productivity, ultimately helping the entire business achieve its goals.

Spell out growth opportunities.

Work with your employees to set individual goals that play to their strengths, but also challenge them to overcome hurdles. Then set them loose down their own development path. By providing the big-picture framework of skills that need to be met by a specific date in order to get a bonus or acquire the next job title, employers are empowering employees to use their own resources to achieve success. Of course, guidance may be needed along the way, but with more modern means of providing instruction, employees won't feel they're being forced to learn in a certain way. An added bonus of this learning structure is that employers can pinpoint who is taking initiative and excelling most rapidly within the company. Approach those employees to take on larger roles during your next big project.

Encourage employees to have a voice.

Employees don't like to be stifled. Traditional learning environments are secluded with little room for interaction and the exchange of ideas. By adopting new methods of learning, whether through online platforms or other collaborative solutions, each employee can let their voice be heard. With the proper tools, employees are encouraged to add ideas to concepts they are learning about, ask questions, and showcase expertise in conversations with other professionals. Expanding learning outside of company walls has potential to grow the entire business. The learning experience is then turned into a growth experience - both for employees and the organization.

As you can see, flexibility to learn in a modern, collaborative environment can be a great added perk for employees that crave control over their own professional development. The best thing you can do to set up the right learning environment--one conducive to retaining talent--is to listen to what your employees want. A company that listens and implements successful practices based on mutual benefit is always going to be one step ahead.