7 Best Practices for an Effective Learning and Development Program
November 2, 2022
It’s no secret that an effective learning and development program (L&D) can help you attract and retain talent. But did you know it can also increase productivity and boost job satisfaction and employee morale?
Overall continuous learning is essential. But just as it’s vital to offer ongoing employee training, your learning and development program must continue to evolve.
In this article, we’ll provide some effective learning and development program best practices and actionable ways to expand your L&D training.
Why is learning and development important for business?
To succeed in business, you need to have the right team. That means finding and retaining excellent talent while also equipping those employees to execute the tasks and projects that are going to bring the most benefit to your organization.
How do you retain talented employees and equip them to excel? Through learning and development. LinkedIn found that 94 percent of employees would stay at a company longer if the organization invested in their careers.
Unfortunately, most companies are not delivering effective learning and development. Over half (55 percent) of employees say they need better training to perform better in their roles, and 38 percent say that companies need to align training more effectively with job responsibilities.
That means using effective learning and development program best practices can help your team members grow in their careers, do their jobs, and give your business a competitive advantage.
Build a culture of learning and employee development
A learning culture is critical for any learning and development program. An organization with an employee training program encourages team members to continuously seek and apply new skills and knowledge to improve professional and company performance.
Training programs help you build resilient and confident teams. This gives organizations a competitive advantage and can decrease employee turnover, which leads to better performance.
“The only way for a company to truly grow is for everyone to always be their sharpest and to always be willing to get better. The only way to achieve that goal is for your company to be completely invested in learning both in action and time.”
— Jen Scopo, Instructional Design Manager, WorkRamp
Some 42 percent of learning and development pros report that creating a learning culture is one of their top three challenges. Besides creating a culture of learning for your organization here are two additional tips to help you improve your L&D program.
Why it’s important to build a culture around learning and development
A learning culture allows employees to make time for the training they need without feeling guilty or falling behind. LinkedIn’s study found that the number one reason employees felt held back from L&D was that they didn’t have time to pursue learning opportunities.
When your managers support employees in their career growth and skill development, you get better employee engagement, and your team members are more likely to finish learning programs. Also, a team focused on learning will be more open to feedback and more likely to share information between teams and departments, which can break down silos and increase collaboration.
Most importantly, you’ll avoid having team members feel that their jobs are a dead end and they need to move on to seek additional opportunities.
How to build a culture that prioritizes L&D
Creating a learning culture requires leadership from the top and buy-in from your team.
For the first step, ensure that your leadership team doesn’t just give lip service to learning and development but actively promotes it. That means encouraging team members to take courses and working with employees on their career growth. Read on to discover more ways to incorporate effective learning and development program best practices.
Harness the power of technology
To create a high-impact L&D program, you want to give specialists the best tools possible. RedThread Research’s survey of over 300 L&D professionals found that “technology use” was one of the biggest skills L&D will need for the future.
Learning technology is evolving fast. Learning management systems (LMS) can support L&D programs by making content accessible to different abilities, learning styles, and preferences. LMS platforms can also record individual performance and create different learning environments, like gamified content or social learning experiences.
Platforms like WorkRamp make it easy for employers and employees to engage with training content and measure the success of a program. These tools also streamline learning processes so that you can free up resources from human resources teams. But most importantly, learning management platforms make learning fun. If you don’t spark genuine interest and capture the learner’s attention, your L&D program will not be effective.
“WorkRamp enables us to empower teams and their managers to rise to their full potential, which, in turn, boosts employee engagement scores.”
— Robyn Barton, Global Director of Talent Development, PartnerHero
Why technology is important for learning and development
Millennials are the largest generation currently in the workplace, and by 2025, 75 percent of the workforce worldwide will be Millennials. Although many generalizations are made about this often-maligned group, we can say one thing for sure—they grew up on technology and often prefer to use it for learning, socializing, and more.
That means that if you’re going to cater to the needs of your team, you will need technology for learning and development. That means investing in a learning platform that makes L&D easy to access, engaging, and effective.
Technology is also a better solution for your organization because it allows you to streamline the training process, track results, and follow up with those who need additional support. You can use technology to get feedback from your employees about what they enjoyed and what could be improved, as well.
Be a proactive partner
L&D pros dictate the future of an organization. It’s up to them to look at what’s happening in the world—like work trends, culture shifts, and new technologies, and then apply it to the workplace.
According to the World Economic Forum, automation will disrupt 85 million jobs by 2025, and robotics will create 97 million new jobs. The top skills needed in 2025 will be:
- Analytical thinking
Learning and development is the core of these changes. Specialists want to help organizations and their people build skills that help maintain a competitive advantage in the future.
What does it mean to be a proactive partner?
As an L&D leader, you play a significant role in your organization. One of the most important is to work proactively to ensure that the L&D opportunities available to employees meet the need of the organization.
This means meeting with key stakeholders who request specific learning and development initiatives to find out more about their goals so that you provide the best solution.
Best practices for being proactive
It’s common for L&D departments to react to a department’s or leader’s request for specific training. However, the best way to benefit your organization and reduce reliance on outside learning resources is to be proactive and plan to meet the company’s needs even before someone requests it.
Some of the best practices for proactive L&D include:
- Understand the skills necessary for roles in each department and meet with managers regularly to find out if their teams have skill gaps
- Create a management training program focused on the skills your organization needs most that can train high-talent employees and new managers to lead successful teams
- When a leader or department asks for a training program or class, meet with them to find out their underlying goals so you can create the best training solution for that need
- Anticipate upcoming needs and start conversations early
- Highlight your team’s impact in regular reports to your executive team
The better you understand your organization’s needs, the more effective your L&D team will be in proactively addressing them.
Get employee feedback/let employees have a say
You get a better outcome when you include employees in the training creation process and get their feedback on training programs.
More importantly, you also get stronger adherence to the training process, information retention, and adoption of new ideas.
How to gain employee feedback
You want to know your employees’ thoughts about a training program or idea. How do you find out?
Some effective methods include:
- Anonymous employee surveys
- Short surveys with one to five questions about a specific topic
- Welcome constructive criticism without defensiveness
- Ask managers if they receive feedback about training in one-on-ones with employees
- Have a physical or virtual suggestion box
To make this process effective, it’s important to take action on the feedback you receive and let the employees know what steps you’ve taken to make improvements. Otherwise, your staff might decide that giving honest feedback is useless, and they’ll stop sharing.
Personalize training and make it flexible
Every team member is different, so the training needs to adapt. Personalized, flexible training programs can help your employees ramp up at their own pace, especially if your employees are remote.
The advantages of personalized learning and development
A personalized approach allows your team to complete training at a time and pace that suits their schedule and takes employees’ personal goals into account. This will make them more likely to complete training and grow in their career.
Another benefit is that an individualized training process can cater to various learning styles. Not everyone learns well from reading, but some do. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. You can also encourage employees to learn from each other and collaborate on projects.
Finally, having a choice about their training path encourages employees to take personal ownership of their growth and increases engagement in learning. This means overall adoption of the new skills and ideas will be higher.
How to personalize learning and development and keep it flexible
The easiest way to create a personalized learning process is to have training broken down into specific modules focusing on a specific skill. The employee can choose what to learn next from a group of options.
You might have specific learning paths for, say, new managers, but there would be options to learn more about specific topics, like conflict resolution or coaching. That allows the manager to dig deeper into something they enjoy (or perhaps struggle with) without drawing attention to themselves or feeling like they are slowing down the class.
To keep learning flexible, create materials in a variety of formats. Learners might enjoy choosing from written text, video, audio, or a combination. Or, they might benefit from virtual instructor-led training or an in-person class at a specific time. By choosing and mixing learning methods, employees can get new information in the way that works best for them.
Create a system for transferring employees’ knowledge
If you imagine L&D to be disconnected individuals learning at their computers for hours and returning to their jobs, we have good news. It doesn’t have to be that way—and it shouldn’t be.
The best resources in your organization for learning and development are your employees. Many of them already have the skills or knowledge you want to convey. Why not have them share or teach their coworkers?
Seasoned employees are your best teachers
Seasoned, engaged employees are an incredible asset in learning and development. These are the “go-to” people in your company, and they can teach in various ways, not just by leading a class.
For example, your organization can set up mentoring programs for new managers to learn from existing, successful leaders. Or, someone interested in a different department can job shadow an employee in that area.
Consider the following options when it comes to creating a knowledge transfer plan:
- Have skillful employees help you create an engaging online training class
- Allow employees to teach occasional in-person classes on specific topics
- Create time for skillful employees to observe and give coaching to those who are still growing in specific areas
- Create a mentoring program
- Have an experienced employee guide another team member through a process
- Take advantage of simulations to give hands-on experience in a controlled environment
- Create work pairs where an experienced employee is working with another team member, and they can share ideas and experiences
As you can see, this goes far beyond traditional teaching. Depending on your industry, you might get much more mileage from a demonstration or side-by-side work experience.
Keep employees motivated
Learning and development isn’t a one-time experience. Instead, it’s an ongoing process where employees learn new skills and share their expertise with others.
It’s important to keep employees motivated well beyond that initial stage.
Here are some steps you can take:
- Create and regularly review your employees’ development plans, so they stay excited about their potential
- Reward learning with certifications, badges, or other incentives
- Create a specific time every month for employees to pursue learning opportunities
- Make training classes engaging and easy to access on-demand
- Provide mentoring and coaching programs where employees keep each other motivated
- Continually collect employee feedback on training programs and make adjustments based on the feedback
When employees understand that the training benefits them both in their work today and in the future, they’ll be motivated to complete it. You can add external motivation through incentives and other team members’ enthusiasm and encouragement.
Why motivation is important for learning and development
Employee motivation can make or break your L&D program. Simply put, motivated employees will pay closer attention to what you’re sharing, be more interested in applying it, and be more likely to follow through.
Motivated employees perform their work more effectively and are more likely to put in the work to learn and practice new skills. That’s why it’s important to showcase what your team members will gain from learning and development and to create time for them to pursue these important programs.
Prioritize effective learning and development program best practices
If you’re ready to bring learning front and center in your workplace, learn more about how WorkRamp can help. WorkRamp is an All-in-One Learning Platform that can help you create a culture of learning for your company. Contact us to schedule a free demo!
- LEARN Recap: The Future of Learning & Development February 3, 2023
- 5 Ways to Successfully Launch Your Customer Education Academy February 2, 2023
- 2023 Winter Release: WorkRamp Content Playlists + Academies Events February 1, 2023
- LEARN Recap: 3 Key Elements to Create a Robust Customer Ed Program January 31, 2023
- What is a Training Facilitator? January 30, 2023
Michael is a SaaS marketer living in Guadalajara, Mexico. Through storytelling and data-driven content, his focus is providing valuable insight and advice on issues that prospects and customers care most about. He’s inspired by learning people’s stories, climbing mountains, and traveling with his partner and Xoloitzcuintles.
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