This is the first in a three-part series about learning and development (L&D). In this article, we’ll focus on what business learning and development looks like and why a robust L&D strategy is so important today.
What is Learning & Development?
At its most succinct, learning and development is exactly what it sounds like: every effort a company makes to promote its employees’ learning and development on the job. Like almost everything, L&D is more complex at the core than it looks on the surface.
Corporate L&D programs might include training courses, development programs and activities, online learning, mentorships, hands-on training, on the job training and a host of other strategies. It is generally a human resource function, but in smaller companies, top executives may spearhead L&D efforts (The Workspace).
According to Toolbox HR, five key steps comprise the L&D process:
- Pinpointing Needs – Before you can craft an effective L&D program, you have to assess your current talent situation for skills gaps, shortages, and areas of opportunity.
- Strategy Formulation – Once you’ve determined what areas of need you have, you can decide which elements to incorporate in your program, (i.e., executive coaching, all-hands-on-deck live trainings, individualized online courses, etc.).
- Procurement – Do you need to hire consultants? Buy training software? Partner with a particular L&D platform? Bring in coaches? When can you do virtual training vs bringing staff into a central location? This step needs to be closely evaluated by everyone responsible for your training programs.
- Execution – Lights, camera, ACTION. Theory becomes practice and you implement the elements you compiled in the last step.
- Assessment – It’s really important that you measure the success of your strategies by reassessing the skills gap you pinpointed in step one. This step determines not just the success or failure of that particular training, but it can help pinpoint why. As part of the assessment process, understanding objective data vs subjective is important. Using the right virtual training solution, like Jigsaw Interactive, having a learning, engagement and performance dashboard where this objective data is automatically collected further enhances future success.
Why L&D Strategies Are So Important
Learning and development is crucial to any company’s success on so many levels. Whether it’s job training, safety training, compliance training, culture training, or soft skills training, the purpose of any training is always to benefit your employees and ensure corporate success. Some important reasons to build a strong corporate L&D culture.
Attract and Keep Top Talent
A recent Gallup poll indicates that 87% of millennials ,who will make up 50% of the workforce by 2025, believe that workplace L&D is important, and 59% of those polled specified that a company’s L&D strategy would impact their decision to accept a job or stay employed (Kaltura).
Technologies, processes, services, and products evolve at dizzying speeds and companies have to keep up to stay competitive. L&D is crucial to keep your employees up-to-date with the changes in your industry (Growth Engineering).
“You cannot expect to always have the best of the best, most knowledgeable employees from the get-go, but you can make them the best and most knowledgeable with time and training” (Sunlight). Hire for potential, train for perfection. A robust L&D program improves your employees’ performance, which is the best way to improve operations and performance.
In the next article, we’ll explore the link between L&D and the current skills gap.