As we all know, the landscape of work has changed dramatically. While some business challenges will always remain – multigenerational workforce – there’s a few that have become more pressing with the changes – dispersed workforce and employee engagement. These changes have placed a premium price on upskilling and reskilling.
Those with roles in Learning and Development (L&D) have also seen their roles change and even broaden. That’s why it’s a good time to establish a complete L&D strategy if you don’t already have one.
The Strategic Roles of L&D
L&D’s role in an organization is 5-fold. They work to attract and retain talent, motivate, and engage employees, build an employer brand, create a values-based culture, and develop people’s capabilities.
Attracting and Retaining Talent
Amid The Great Resignation, employee turnover has been high as employees are leaving their steady jobs in search of new opportunities. Why do they leave? Often times, it’s in search of an organization that will invest in their learning and development. According to The Harris Poll, 70% of employees would be somewhat likely to leave their current job to work for an organization known for investing in employee development and learning.
Motivate and Engage Employees
According to Gallup, 32% of employees are engaged while 17% are actively disengaged. One of the best ways L&D can engage employees is to give them opportunities to learn and develop new competencies.
This can be done either through upskilling or reskilling. Your organization can invest in employees by providing them the opportunity to learn skills to do their current roles well (upskilling) or teach them new skills entirely so they can move into a different job role within the organization (reskilling.) When employees are highly engaged, they take even more interest in their career path.
Build an Employer Brand
Your company brand is perhaps the most important asset since it’s how you are perceived by the outside world. It not only speaks to who you are, but how well the business is doing financially, your position in the industry, and what you offer to clients and employees
By having L&D invest in the company brand, they get to put the organization’s best foot forward. Having a strong brand can help lower recruiting costs by decreasing turnover and increasing employee satisfaction so they’re less likely to leave.
And poor employee treatment? 64% of consumers have stopped purchasing a brand after hearing news of that company’s poor employee treatment.
Create a Values-based Culture
Now that remote work has skyrocketed, it’s been a challenge to keep employees feeling connected. L&D can step in to help build a values-based culture and a sense of community. A values-based organization is one that has a culture shaped by a clear set of ground rules that establish a foundation and guiding principles for decision-making, actions, and a sense of community.
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Develop People Capabilities
The success of a company isn’t derived from its ability to innovate, its social footprint, or even its ability to solve problems quickly – it relies on its human capital! Without them, businesses just don’t exist. No AI can connect with a customer that’s struggling in a way a customer service rep can. Or write code like a developer. Or make marketing materials like a designer.
Your core values are an important part of the organization, so make sure they are present in your training as well by making sure to brand your culture to carry a consistent message, create value-based onboarding and teambuilding activities, and recognize others for their value-based actions.
Investing in that human capital is going to make them feel valued and want to focus on their professional goals but also help to innovate, connect with clients, and continue to grow.
It’s not just about upskilling and reskilling efforts though. There are skills some employees may need to learn on the job or through soft skills training. Let’s look at those working in customer service.
Say you have a cashier at your favorite store. That cashier not only needs to know how to maintain a safe environment, but they also need to know how to work the machines and software around them – skills they can only learn on the job by doing them. However, that cashier also needs to know how to communicate well, a soft skill. They have to be conflict de-escalators, avid communicators, and strong listeners as well.
Putting a Plan Into Place
For a strategy to work, it needs strong leaders and champions to drive strategy and empower workers. But what does an effective L&D leader look like?
- Passionate: To be an effective leader, L&D professionals need to be learners, too, and practice what they preach. They’re passionate about creating programs that help employees while also learning new techniques and staying on trends.
- Strong Skills: Being able to communicate well is crucial in an L&D professional. Not only does this include excellent presentation skills but knowing the importance of timing of announcements and meetings, staying organized, communicating well, and listening actively.
- Business acumen. L&D leaders need to have confidence because, sometimes, they want to change the status quo. They turn training on its head and have to make a case for getting buy-in. They also must ensure the learning environment is strong and utilizes modern tactics. On top of that, they also need to be aware of what they’re achieving and how it helps and impacts the business.
Getting the Most out of a Training Program
Now that you know the role L&D can have on a company, let’s get to the how. There are a few key steps to take when implementing your strategy.
- Identify skill gaps. Before doing anything at all, you must collect data to determine where there are gaps in skills.
- Understand the employee journey. Go to the source. Ask them about their journey, from interviewing to onboarding to their daily workload and work-life balance and assess the skills they need in each phase. Understanding this can help speak to leaders about the need for a program.
- Develop learning journeys. L&D should decide what kind of learning is best for their organization. While for some, classroom training might be best, many teams are busy for all hours of the day and can’t find time to fit in an hour training. That’s why microlearning is such a great tool, as it fits into the flow of work.
- Align any initiative to business strategies as L&D often supports the implementation of business strategies.
- Get leadership buy-in. Having leadership support is critical to the success of any program, but it’s no easy task. Develop goals, align it to company values, and have data for leaders to review.
- Don’t forget to follow up. Execution and impact need to be measured so that you can prove ROI to leadership. Consider metrics such as learning-program satisfaction and completion scores, and then dig down into engagement and productivity.
By focusing on alignment, skill gaps, and their people, L&D leaders can make a big difference in their organization. For more information on data-driven decision making in L&D, check out our ebook about the Kirkpatrick Method.