The modern business environment is fast-paced, dynamic, and demanding. Employees value learning and development that helps them keep pace. In 2016, a Gallup poll found that 87% of millennials believe workplace learning and development is essential.
A further 59% consider opportunities for learning and growth to be "extremely important" when deciding whether to apply for a job. Offering this opportunity can expand your available talent pool.
The global workforce is evolving, and there is persistent uncertainty in the market. As a result, employees must continually update knowledge and grow through both upskilling and reskilling.
Some employees cite a lack of learning and development opportunities as a critical reason for quitting employment.
This begs the question: Does your company have a good learning and development strategy that attracts and retains talent while developing human capital?
A winning learning and development strategy is a vital tool for businesses.
Today, we'll explore what an effective learning and development strategy entails, what benefits building a quality strategy can bring, and how best to formulate one with an effective learning platform.
What is an L&D Strategy?
A learning and development strategy sets out employee capabilities, skills, and competencies that an organization needs for its workforce. It examines how these things can be developed to ensure the organization is sustainable and successful.
A good learning and development strategy isn't just for rank-and-file employees, either. Management leaders need to develop their skills just as much as the rest of the team.
A successful learning and development strategy enables better professional development, which helps to support the talent pipeline. It builds new skills for employees and managers and actively upgrades the quality of existing skills.
A winning learning and development strategy is cost-effective. A company that invests in the human capital of its employees reaps the benefits of increased employee performance, more skilled employees, enhanced employee loyalty, and greater overall success.
Benefits of a Winning L&D Strategy
An effective learning and development strategy will do several things for an organization, including:
- Attracting and retaining talent
- Motivating and engaging employees
- Building a company's brand
- Creating a values-based culture
- Developing better human capital
A well-built learning and development strategy helps leaders and employees to define goals for human capital building, prioritize them, and design programs to build them effectively.
Attracting and Retaining Talent
Historically, traditional workplace learning focused on improving employee productivity. However, in the digital age, education must also focus on employability.
Companies no longer keep employees for decades, and employees no longer stay with companies for their whole careers.
Because employees must develop and grow to stay relevant, they are often attracted to companies with robust opportunities for learning and development. Moreover, such options boost employee retention, while a lack of such opportunities lowers retention.
A winning learning and development strategy is key to attracting and retaining talent. Developing and keeping the people already with a company is much more cost-effective than continuously hiring and losing people through a high turnover rate.
Motivating and Engaging Employees
Providing employees with opportunities to learn, grow and develop new competencies is an important and effective way to engage their interests. In addition, research indicates that people with the benefit of lifelong learning are happier.
Similarly, employees who are allowed to learn and grow are more engaged and satisfied with their organization. Engaged employees are even more productive!
Building a Company's Brand
A company's brand conveys a lot about its corporate strengths, products, and success (or lack thereof). Investing in an effective learning and development strategy can enhance a company's brand as an employer of choice.
Employees seek learning and development opportunities. This means that they are often attracted to companies known for learning and development. Thus, a strong brand image begins with brand-based learning and development opportunities.
Creating a Values-Based Culture
In the digital age, a company's workforce may be virtual or dispersed across many different locations. Therefore, having a sense of community-based shared values increases employee cohesion.
A winning learning and development strategy can help create a value-based culture that extends beyond the borders of the traditional office. Admirable values are increasingly important to employees, particularly those in younger cohorts.
Developing Better Human Capital
The development of human capital requires ongoing employee instruction. Outdated knowledge rapidly leads to a decline in human capital, which compromises a company's ability to meet the performance markers associated with success.
Investing in employees and leaders provides a return on investment in the form of more robust human capital. This translates into an increased likelihood of hitting performance targets and achieving core business goals.
How to Formulate an Effective L&D Strategy
There are several key considerations when you want to develop an effective learning and development strategy. After all, the process can be complex, and there are many factors to consider along the way.
Through an effective learning and development strategy, both employees and the company can quickly become more knowledgeable and competitive.
A learning and development strategy must be flexible. Successful organizations are not static; they are dynamic.
Winning learning and development strategies are equally nimble and agile. An organization's learning and development strategy must be evaluated and revised from time to time to stay relevant. Continuous analysis and improvement are critical.
Making Organizational Priorities
A learning and development strategy needs to be an organizational priority. In essence, it should be an organizational learning and development plan. Training should be formalized, which means senior management needs to buy in and promote participation.
The human resources department or an enterprise L&D strategy team will need to plan and develop clear goals and objectives. The formal learning and development strategy should include benchmarks for key performance indicators that fit with organizational objectives.
Recognizing Business Strategy
A company's organizational learning and development plan should align with the company's overall business strategy.
For example, if marketing is important to the company's business goals, the learning and development strategy should include marketing-focused courses.
Adopting a Tailored Approach
It is important to understand that a one-size-fits-all approach to an organizational learning and development plan won't work. Different positions within the company have distinct training and knowledge needs.
A winning strategy is relevant to everyone. However, it has to account for the different roles employees and managers play in the organization and how to develop each role best.
Easing Employee Recruitment and Retention
Recruitment and retention go hand-in-hand. An effective learning and development strategy factors recruitment and retention as part of the value proposition to employees. If employees are learning and developing, they are more likely to stay.
Assessing Internal Stakeholders
To make a learning and development strategy effective, buy-in from employees is essential. Training has to be relevant and useful to win workers over.
The chances are that you've personally experienced mandated company training that wasn't particularly interesting or useful — instead, it was part of ticking off a box on some company form. Such training is an ineffective use of paid employee time. It can even be demoralizing.
An excellent way to know what employees hold relevant is to conduct assessments. For example, what do workers feel their learning and development needs are?
As the Gallup poll indicates, employees want training and development. However, these need to be relevant and valuable, or employees will see it as ineffective use of their time and attention.
Consider conducting ongoing assessments. The business environment changes rapidly, and employees need evolving training and development to keep up. What is relevant as an organizational learning and development plan today may not work next year.
Sufficient Resources and Budgeting
Resource and budgeting considerations must be part of a quality learning and development strategy. For example, will employees gain more from internal training management courses and workshops, or would providing access to quality business classes be better?
In some cases, perhaps a mix is optimal.
Choosing Correct Learning Tools and Techniques
There are many learning techniques and tools to integrate into a learning and development strategy. Some examples include:
- Leadership exercises
- Leadership coaching
- Distance learning
- On-site learning
- Real-world learning
- Guided case study analysis
An effective organizational learning and development plan usually incorporates programs and tools specific to the skills being taught and refined.
Examining Future Requirements
When you're devising an effective learning and development strategy, future requirements are an important consideration. Therefore, management development goals and objectives should be woven into the organizational learning and development plan.
Just as a business needs to adapt to future considerations, a learning and development strategy needs to evolve and adapt to new requirements. Predicting future workforce needs can help to guide this process.
Implementing a Winning L&D Plan
Both learning experience and learner experience are keys to building and implementing an effective learning and development strategy.
While each organization's learning and development strategy will be unique, companies can follow some basic steps to develop and implement an effective organizational learning and development plan:
- Define learning and development goals, vision, and metrics
- Inventory existing learning and development activities
- Consult with stakeholders and define key areas of team development based on organizational needs, not individual wishes
- Perform a training needs assessment
- Analyze the gap between current learning and development activities and the defined curriculum with a training needs analysis
- Organize a learning and development process and a delivery strategy, including scheduling and tracking
- Identify priorities for expanding the design and select vendors if applicable
- Establish and execute a learning and development plan
- Measure benchmarks, assess, and update content as needed
A good learning and development strategy should include a mix of on-the-job learning, collaborative learning, and formal training.
One-the-job learning should encompass the necessary skills and mastery of employees' essential tools to do their jobs. A learning platform can streamline this process as long as it provides resources to answer all questions that arise.
Collaborative learning can include mentoring, coaching, apprenticeships, or job-shadowing. Businesses should also have cross-team and cross-department interaction activities to give employees a more comprehensive view of their value.
Formal training may include courses on a learning platform. It can also involve hands-on learning and the ability to earn certificates by meeting specific performance or learning objectives.
The Right Learning Platform Helps L&D
A good learning platform can help companies successfully implement an organizational learning and development plan. It can do this through features that enable onboarding new staff, creating learning tracks, creating personal development plans, and setting strategic learning objectives.
The right learning platform can also help companies to gather data on how employee learning progresses. For example, a learning platform can monitor outcomes, gather feedback, and issue digital badges or certificates.
Onboard New Staff
Learning platforms can help to integrate new staff into the company more efficiently than a staff member. Learning platform training can be consistent across the board with the same learning and development strategy incorporated for each employee from the start.
New job training can be overwhelming, but having a clear plan can make the process more effective and less stressful for new employees.
Training should include things every new employee needs to know and train specifically based on the company's roles or departments.
Creating Learning Tracks
Learning tracks are personalized journeys that help give learners an immersive learning experience. An online platform can help businesses develop learning tracks with as many training components as necessary to complete learning objectives.
Tracks can also incorporate deadlines and benchmarks. Tying learning tracks to the broader learning and development strategy helps employees grow and develop new skills and knowledge that benefit the company.
A learning and development platform can enable employees to request certain types of training, tracking requests, and management responses. The training team can then add to employee learning tracks as appropriate.