Align L&D With Business Strategy: Maximize Organizational Performance
April 21, 2023
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Innovation, disruption, and technology are quickly changing the business landscape. As a result, organizations in all sectors and industries, from startups to mature global companies, must find cost-effective ways to adapt to stay competitive.
How can businesses achieve this successfully in an ever-changing market? One tactic is to align learning and development (L&D) with business strategy and goals, like decreasing turnover, increasing productivity, improving customer satisfaction, or reaching other objectives.
But where should you start, and what points will you need to consider along the way?
Discover why aligning L&D with business strategy is important, what elements you should include, and—most crucially—how to build L&D programs that support your organization’s long-term goals.
Why your business needs an L&D strategy
Learning and development programs are more than just a perk for employees—they’re essential for attracting and retaining top talent, with 64 percent of Millennial workers saying they “plan to quit [their jobs] because there aren’t enough opportunities for skills development.”
Meanwhile, other research shows that more than three-quarters of all Gen Z employees—about 76 percent—feel that previous generations’ skill sets are no longer relevant in today’s modern workplace.
And it isn’t just employees concerned about building new skills, either. According to research by the World Economic Forum, 79 percent of CEOs are concerned about skill gaps impacting performance, especially when it comes to the negative impacts on:
- Ability to innovate (55%)
- People-related costs (52%)
- Quality standards and customer experience (47%)
- Ability to pursue opportunities (44%)
L&D enables organizations to mitigate or avoid these issues by upskilling, reskilling, and/or cross-skilling their people.
This training and education leads to closing skill gaps, producing a range of benefits for businesses. For example, data from IBM shows that companies that offer career or talent development opportunities are 10 percent more productive, deliver 16 percent higher customer satisfaction, and launch products or implement new procedures 22 percent faster than competitors who lack L&D programs.
You can position your business for greater growth and success by creating an L&D strategy that supports your company’s goals—whether that means getting products to market faster, scoring more repeat business from customers, or spending less money on recruiting new employees.
What should your L&D strategy include?
While every business has different considerations, there are some common themes or elements in every successful L&D program.
To design more effective employee training programs, ensure your L&D strategy aligns with business objectives and covers these four important points.
1. Training objectives
You must identify and communicate the specific objectives you hope to achieve with your employee training program. For instance, you might set a goal to increase sales or reduce employee churn by a certain amount within a specific timeframe.
The goal must be quantifiable and clearly defined so you can measure (and improve) program efficacy. That brings us to the next key point: success metrics.
2. Success metrics
Data reporting enables your HR leaders to see what’s working well in your L&D programs—and, even more importantly, where there’s room for improvement.
Your team can make informed, strategic L&D decisions to move you closer to your training objectives. For example, if data shows that a certain strategy or type of content isn’t advancing you toward your goal, you’ll know it needs to be adjusted (or dropped from your program).
3. Required resources
You can’t improve business performance or help your team develop new skills without adequate resources. That means your employee training programs must be easy to access, engaging, and, last but not least, flexible enough to provide users with a personalized learning experience.
Carefully consider the necessary resources to build and deliver a program that meets the above criteria.
4. Stakeholder support and buy-in
Your L&D initiative won’t get off the ground without buy-in, support, and funding from key stakeholders.
To get the necessary funding and resources, ensure your business leaders understand the value of L&D, how you will measure success and ROI, and how this ties into organizational goals.
“Learning is one of those things that’s quickly pushed to the side when the focus has to turn to efficiency. So it’s your responsibility [as an L&D leader] to ensure you have a seat at the right tables and know how to express the value of your programs.”
–Jen Scopo, Manager, Instructional Design, WorkRamp
Align L&D with business strategy: how to stay focused on the big picture
There are many types of learning and development programs, but they all share a common purpose: to enhance and expand your team’s abilities, knowledge, and skills.
When training programs are engaging and effective, the results can include improved employee performance, morale, communication, productivity, and retention, coupled with decreased burnout and turnover—not to mention significant savings in time and cost.
These are desirable business outcomes. So how can organizations pinpoint and achieve them via their L&D strategies?
Here are five essential steps to align L&D with business strategy.
Determine business goals
Set targets for your organization so that you can build relevant L&D programs. For example, if you aim to reduce new employee turnover, you could use an online L&D platform to improve your onboarding programs.
Establish how you will measure success
Set clear, objective criteria—for instance, an increase in your net promoter score (NPS) or a reduction in customer support tickets—that you can use to assess whether your program is delivering the expected outcomes.
This will help manage shareholder expectations and ensure everyone shares the idea of success or failure.
Perform ongoing skills assessments
It’s impossible to close skill gaps without determining where they exist. In fact, assessing employees’ skills and competencies is the first of 10 steps to building better L&D programs.
Create training plans and materials
Tailor your training plans and educational content to address specific skill gaps or compliance requirements to meet your organization’s objectives.
Need help getting started? Use this employee training plan template to streamline the process.
Test, measure results, and improve your program
Use data analytics to track the success of your program and determine whether your strategy is producing the intended results.
Then, translate these insights into meaningful program improvements.
How WorkRamp can help you improve your L&D program
Build better, more effective learning and development programs with WorkRamp. Our Employee Learning Cloud lets you create a learning center of excellence to fuel employee development, boost employee engagement, upskill team members, and improve performance.
Discover how our Employee Learning Cloud can elevate and accelerate your L&D programs. Contact us to request a free, personalized demo.
Complete the form for a custom demo.
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