Are you concerned about how you and your employees will find the time to incorporate a learning and development plan into your business?
It is easy to sacrifice employee learning programs in-order-to focus on short-term projects and deadlines; but prioritising short-term wins can have long-term consequences. Your learning culture will have an impact on all areas of your business, it can help your business grow and help you retain and attract talent.
An IBM study assessing training and performance found that 84% of employees in the best performing organisations are receiving the training they need, compared to only 16% of employees in the worst-performing companies. IBM also found learning programs had a significant impact on employee retention.
IBM found only 21% of new employees planned to stay in their current position if with a company that does not offering training. However, 62% of new employees intended to stay in a company where training is provided. A lack of development opportunities is a key reason we see unsatisfied employees looking for new opportunities. They are driven and talented but do not see opportunities within their current companies for the development required to stay ahead of competition.
Creating a culture that supports learning and development is one of the most important things a company can do to support and engage a productive workforce and out-perform competitors. Learning culture, as defined by CEB, is “a culture that supports an open mind-set, an independent quest for knowledge, and shared learning directed toward the mission and goals of the organization.”
So, what can you do to foster a culture of continuous learning and development within your business?
Create and Communicate a Clear Plan
A learning and development plan acts as a road map for employees and helps to support their career and personal development goals. Your plan should include a mix of formal, structured learning; informal, flexible learning; and on-the-job opportunities to develop and improve skills.
Everyone needs to be on board for your programme to work. Share your plans with employees, encourage participation, and embed it into your mission and values so it remains front of mind for current and future teams.
Align Employee Learning with Business Objectives
Learning and development plans needs to make sense for employees and the company. Learning programs should be tied to development plans that are aligned with company goals, so employees and the business get the most value out of the venture.
Providing valuable training opportunities sends the message to employees that the company cares about them and their future. The right programs will help employees do their job better, which benefits both them and the business reach strategic goals.
Make Access to Training a Key Company Benefit
Finding time to be able to focus on this can be challenging, managers must advocate for their employees by incorporating a learning plan into their day-to-day and helping them set aside time. Learning & development can play an integral role in championing employee development and ensuring the continuous flow of learning to meet the needs of employees across the business. Prioritizing learning can also help retain and attract top talent in a competitive environment.
Set Clear Employee Goals
A joint research study by Brandon Hall Group and Halogen Software reported that more than two-thirds of high performers “use cascading goals to connect business and learning objectives, while only half of everyone else uses them.” When correctly incorporated, cascading goals ensure that responsibilities at a lower level reflect the overarching aims of the entire company. Employees are more motivated and engaged in tasks when they understand what they are doing and why it is important.
Managers across your business should be regularly talking to employees about their development goals and plans. Before starting a development activity, managers should have an open discussion with the employee to outline the purpose and expected outcomes, and to create a preliminary plan for using what the employee learns. After, regular check-ins with employees help them stay on track so they achieve goals and complete development activities on time and with the right outcomes.
Aim for Consistent Improvement and Evolution
Continuous learning requires continuous evaluation. Surveying employees about their experiences on a regular basis is a way for you to gather relevant feedback and ensure your programme is engaging and enjoyable, ensuring overarching goals are met.