I was surprised to read today in a new report by Bersin that 66% of L&D professionals say that they are having trouble getting employees to engage with L&D offerings, and worryingly, less than 25% of line managers think that their L&D department is critical to achieving business goals. An organisation must rely on their staff’s ability to perform their roles effectively to achieve long-term business success, and L&D teams are at the heart of driving that success. So where are they going wrong? Are L&D departments really failing to keep up?
Developing employees isn’t a ‘nice to have’ – it’s essential for improving business performance and achieving lasting results. But does this mean that L&D teams necessarily need to reinvent themselves? Is it time for a great relaunch of L&D, or can HR be champions in the boardroom with a little strategic fine-tuning?
Stay one step ahead
Only 14% of L&D leaders indicate they are viewed as strategic business leaders. If this resonates with you, start by considering when your team last asked, ‘Where are we now?’ However watertight your plan, there is always room to analyse and adapt to change throughout the year to make sure your strategy continues to align with corporate goals. Spend time with employees: what do they want to know and do current learning provisions support them successfully? How can you support and develop high performers through more innovative and engaging learning programmes? Also think about line management practicalities: how can development initiatives be simplified, yet have the most impact on performance improvements? Going back to basics is very often the answer, and thinking creatively about objectives, approaches and delivery can help to align L&D with corporate goals and inject much needed energy and enthusiasm back into employee development.
Keep it continuous
You can also refresh the L&D function by ensuring that you are driving continuous learning. Employee knowledge and skills need to be enhanced consistently and continuously, not just updated on a monthly or yearly basis. Everyone learns differently, so a blended programme involving environment, exposure, experience and education can help each individual find their ideal learning blend (see Johnson, D. (2015). Bersin). For example, job shadowing and one-to-one mentoring are particularly useful for optimising retention, and should form a regular part of workplace learning. Retaining employee engagement is also key, and immersing learners in real-world scenarios through multiplatform e-learning, multimedia and gamification can be really effective when it comes to engaging staff in personal development.
Demonstrate the power of learning
Support CPD by encouraging leaders to carry out regular performance reviews, incorporating 360 feedback and personal development planning. Showing staff how they fit into the bigger picture and how they are contributing to the success of the organisation is one of the best ways to ‘sell’ the value of learning. I’ve found that once individuals understand their own contribution, they are far more likely to take an active role in their performance and progression, even to the point of ‘self-coaching’ and driving forward their own career development. Not only will this approach help improve organisational performance, but you’ll gain recognition as an attractive organisation to work for.
As long as the business environment continues to progress so rapidly, there is a need to constantly assess how employees learn most effectively in order to arm them with tools and knowledge they need to succeed. Staff learning and development will always remain a dynamic process, and so rather than embarking upon on a ‘great relaunch’ of L&D, I would suggest that it may be more accurate to label the next review of your L&D strategy as ‘where we are now,’ as you help your employees, and your business, progress to where they want to be.
Johnson, D. (2015). Reimagining L&D Capabilities to Drive Continuous Learning. Bersin by Deloitte.