Learning and development has evolved drastically in the past couple of years and continues to change and adapt as organizational needs shift. Recently, L&D has solidified itself as an essential part of organizational success across industries and disciplines. Nonetheless, many businesses are still looking for more justification to buy into the financial and organizational benefits of employee development. If your organization is working to create a learning and development program that works for both employees and management, here are some fresh perspectives to consider on how to develop, implement, and analyze L&D programs in 2021.
First, learning and development programs strengthen leadership across all levels of business. Given the agility of modern L&D programs, implementing solutions that benefit employees at all levels of an organization is more cost effective and simple than ever before. For independent contributors, i.e., general employees, L&D programs that target specific skill development can increase confidence and performance. For employees in management roles, L&D can provide support systems, which in turn can help them feel more comfortable and perform better in their roles. Here’s an example:
An organization is seeing an inordinate number of escalations when dealing with a particular issue. They notice it is both an issue of employees not knowing how to solve a specific problem and managers being unsure of how to prioritize tasks. The organization chooses to roll out an eLearning course that directly targets the issue while also providing performance support materials for managers—tackling two issues with one solution. The outcome? Fewer escalations, support for managers in the case escalations are necessary. The benefit? Streamlined problem solving and increased employee confidence and performance.
Second, learning and development programs can create positive outcomes for employees before they even enter their role. Remote work has created a plethora of questions (and answers) to how best to build an effective organization in 2021, and remote onboarding is one of the most pressing and impactful areas for improvement. New hire training and orientation isn’t the same as it once was, and that’s not all bad. Remote onboarding is scalable, replicable, and agile, and can create learning and development experiences that guide future new hire success. If you’re looking to increase performance and process consistency, a well thought out remote onboarding program can help. Not to mention, its digital format means you can easily replicate training for multiple individuals to ensure all new hires have access to the same information and resources.
Leadership development and remote onboarding are essential to successful business outcomes, but there are a variety of other ways learning and development can benefit your organization. Here are just a few to get you thinking more about how L&D may fit your needs.
- Attracting and retaining talent: Employees like to see that their organizations value their development. In a market where other employers are constantly in contact with your employees through the likes of LinkedIn and Indeed, it’s critical that you leverage L&D to attract and retain top talent. There is no better way to show prospective hires and veteran employees that you care than by investing in their learning. There are a variety of ways this can be done, but you can start with providing performance support resources to help current employees feel more comfortable and happier in their role.
- Increasing employee engagement and motivation: In that same vein, there are learning and development programs that can create an environment in which employees are more engaged and motivated. Lack of engagement costs businesses billions each year and is often incorrectly combatted with reorganization efforts and other movement within the business. In reality, sometimes employees simply need more support and engagement from employers, which can be provided through learning and development.
- Building for the future. Developing programs and processes that can set your organization up for success in the future is a necessity that cannot be understated. Fortunately, the recent shift to remote works means that content can be created, stored, and analyzed in virtual environments, meaning developing scalable content is very cost-effective. Creating L&D programs can be expensive up front, but they are an investment that is looking more and more important as organizations continue to shift to virtual, remote, and hybrid work.
- Keeping your organization and employees up to date with industry trends. Put bluntly, organizations that refuse to develop their employees will be less successful than their competitors that do. One of the most important aspects of a successful organization is 2021 is creating a culture and environment that not only promotes personal development, but also provides resources that help employees develop themselves.
- Addressing specific skills gaps. Remote work has created many skills gaps that have not been fully addressed. For example, using new remote conferencing technologies, collaboration tools, and remote development software are all needs that companies have, but have had little time to address and remedy. A learning and development program can target these needs and create an environment that fosters continuous learning, which in turn increases knowledge and efficiency.
As we move further into 2021, it will be increasingly obvious that learning and development programs are an essential part of organizational success. Fortunately, given the current state of remote work, creating programs that are cost-effective is not a big ask. If you’re still not sure exactly what is best for your needs, consider conducting a training needs assessment to fully understand how learning and development can give your organization a competitive edge.