• Ali Frischman

6 Reasons Why Your Learning and Development Program Isn’t Working for You

The business case for investing in your employees’ growth and development is undeniable. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their learning and development. So, if you are already supporting your people with a learning and development program, where could it be going wrong? Consider this:

1. Getting Employee Input

While managers and leaders know what skills are necessary for their teams’ successes, it is important that employees feel that they are able to contribute to their own learning curriculum. If an employee feels that a particular training is not relevant to them, you won’t be seeing them in the room. Not only should you survey your employees to discover their interests, but do not be afraid to strongly suggest attendance in particular courses. Tie course recommendations to performance by discussing specific employee goals and pointing out how attendance can move the needle toward achieving them.

2. Making Employees Aware

Believe it or not, some employees are simply unaware of the learning opportunities afforded to them at their place of work. When you rolled out your program or new course offering, how strongly did you communicate it to your people? While a simple email is the easiest way to announce something, employee ambassadors are exponentially more effective. An email can easily get lost in a sea of others in an inbox, but there is no ignoring a coworker with whom you regularly interact. Gather a group of influential, approachable employees and educate them on the new offerings. Task them with spreading the word to their colleagues, attending the trainings themselves and providing feedback.

3. Keeping the Learning Alive

All too often, companies rely on a single course to teach the desired skills without following up. Colleagues are employees’ best resources, so consider holding recurring meetings for teams to share how their implementation is going and learned best practices. Employees— especially managers—can easily forget about their peer networks. Just because a fellow colleague does not work in the same area of business does not mean that their struggles are unique. Encouraging comradery and continued discussion of a training topic will ensure your effort was not a “one and done."

4. Ensuring Manager Buy-In

For junior employees especially, a large inhibitor for attending trainings is lack of management encouragement. There is a cascade effect of influence, from the highest levels of leadership down to supervisors, managers, and junior employees. If your program is not visibly supported from the top, there is no way the most junior folks will feel supported in their decision to attend a training. Require managers to discuss learning opportunities with their direct reports in both team meetings and individual one-on-ones. Do not be afraid to mandate the attendance of a certain number of courses in any given time period. This way, employees realize that their attendance at trainings is not just supported, but required.

5. Establishing Cadence

A training popping up on an already packed calendar can be alarming, especially if it conflicts with a client-priority. Ask your employees what time of day, week and month works best for them. When learning and development becomes a recurring, expected part of work-life, attendance will increase and anxiety around making the time for it will decrease.

6. Soliciting and Following Through on Feedback

Commit to continuous improvement by soliciting employee feedback after each course and even at the end of full curriculums. If the issue is getting survey participation, provide incentives. Trade in the hard copy surveys for electronic ones; allow employees to thoughtfully complete them rather than rushing to get pen to paper quickly enough to leave and go about the rest of their workday. Ask for a screenshot of survey submission in exchange for a local coffee shop voucher or sweet treat. While we would love for employees to complete surveys on goodwill, knowing change will only happen with their feedback, be prepared to offer a little something to get the ball rolling. Over time, completing the surveys and giving feedback will become second nature. Most importantly, take the time to analyze the feedback that is received and make changes accordingly. If employees aren’t feeling heard, they won’t bother to speak up.

There is so much more that goes into a successful learning and development program besides simply offering trainings. For the best results, consider all that goes into it outside of the “classroom” or learning environment. Yes, this is an investment: of time, money, effort. However, you’ll quickly see ROI through more skilled—and engaged—employees!