As the ‘Great Resignation’ continues to sweep across global industries, employee learning and development has become a key competitive advantage – and there are plenty of stats to back it up.
According to the recent State of L&D report published by TalentLMS, 76% of employees say they are more likely to stay with a company that prioritizes ongoing training opportunities, while 86% of HR managers say that employee learning is a key driver of staff retention.
Certain skills are in higher demand than ever before and careful thought is needed when deciding where investment in employee development will have the most impact.
Chief Learning Officers (CLOs) have their work cut out, that’s for sure. Fulfilling the human potential within an organization requires CLOs to continually upskill and reskill their workforce at a rapid pace.
Best practice is evolving, not to mention the new challenges associated with remote and hybrid workers.
An effective skills strategy is a crucial starting point on the path to maximizing productivity, efficiency of resources and the overall competitiveness of any business.
Here are a few steps to consider if you’re thinking about your own strategy.
Map out your needs
Want to know where your organizational capability can go?
First you need to know where it’s at. Start by clarifying what matters most to your business and running a comprehensive audit to map out existing skill sets and any gaps that need to be filled. This feeds into individual learning journeys and should make it easier to plot the areas in which employees and teams can develop.
CLOs and learning managers shouldn’t operate in silos, either. The best strategies are formed when L&D objectives align with the vision and core goals of the business.
Staff training should have a clear route back to revenue, employee experience, customer satisfaction and productivity. It’s also a key factor in how well businesses can adapt to change and deliver their plans for the future.
The latest LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report confirms this trend, with 74% of learning leaders surveyed saying that L&D has become more of a cross-functional responsibility in recent years.
The direction we’re heading is clear: employee learning isn’t a HR matter; it’s a business matter.
Make it personal
Employers aiming to reach high engagement with their learning programs must be prepared to make it a personal experience for every member of their staff.
People have different interests, motivations, abilities and preferred styles of learning, and the truth is that one size fits nobody.
Staff are far more likely to engage with training when they know the content is tailored to their interests and career goals, so the challenge lies in striking the right balance between personal and organizational needs.
Creating a personalized learning journey ensures that employees always get training content that’s relevant to them. This puts the person in control of their own development, rather than having to rely on generic training sessions delivered on an ad hoc schedule.
And when you consider that it costs nearly four times more to hire a new employee than it does to train an existing employee for a role, personalized learning also makes great business sense.
Match tech with modern habits
There’s been a huge shift in the way we consume content outside of work in recent years, and our perception of learning and personal development has transformed without many of us even realizing.
People today feast on informational Youtube videos, TedTalks and podcasts on all manner of topics. We’re well used to hunting down knowledge as and when we need it.
We also discover valuable content through recommendations and algorithms tailored to our interests. And all of this content is readily available to consume from anywhere with a decent internet connection.
Back in the workplace, L&D technology is already evolving past basic elearning courses and digital learning management systems. Forward-thinking organizations have a chance to get ahead of the curve by experimenting with different training formats and sophisticated mobile experiences.
They are taking the opportunity to blend written and video content, push and pull approaches, and in-house programs with third-party expertise.
Automation is another advantage for companies that know how to weave it into the employee experience. Automating parts of inductions and ongoing development saves valuable time and internal resources, so long as it still feels engaging and personalized to the user.
As one of the lead researchers for the State of L&D report, Annemarie Schaffer tells UNLEASH about the importance of tracking the impact of learning strategies:
“Organizations can build value into their skills strategies by regularly evaluating and testing the programs’ effectiveness, and promoting the value of continuous learning to both current and future employees,” Schaefer explains.
“Beyond post-training survey assessments, employers need to evaluate behavioral changes to ensure new skills are being applied. One way to do this is to make L&D a measurable part of regular employee evaluations. From there, employers can measure L&D ROI through such metrics as retention, productivity, performance and internal promotions, to name just a few.”
Once CLOs have these insights to hand, the final step is to share them with other senior leaders in a form that’s clear and easy to digest. This data can then inform strategic decisions, while also giving L&D leaders a much stronger voice in the boardroom.
Only then will the true value of employee learning be seen for what it’s worth.
Get more insight into the skills agenda – check out the UNLEASH America 2023 agenda today.