The key to L&D success

Gallagher Bassett's Gabrielle Cook on empowering employees to lead their own development

The key to L&D success

Invest in your employee’s learning and growth, and you are sending a powerful message: ‘We value your contribution, we believe in your capability, we want you to stay.’ The impact of that message is revealed in studies like LinkedIn’s 2020 Global Talent Trends Report; companies that ranked highly for employee training saw 53% lower attrition.

Increasingly - especially in today’s competitive talent market - learning and development is a crucial part of any organisation’s value proposition to employees, says Gabrielle Cook, National People & Culture Manager at third party administrator and risk management company Gallagher Bassett NZ.

“In interviews candidates commonly ask how they are going to be developed. If you can’t answer that and deliver it credibly, you are not going to keep up with the rest of the marketplace,” says Cook.

Far from COVID pushing L&D to the backburner, “it has taught us what’s possible”, she adds. Importantly, it has reshaped the way organisations engage with their people.

“Traditionally we had the monthly one-on-one in the office, the instant connection. In the remote environment, it has become almost a daily check-in. It was initially mostly about support, but that has flowed through to development, to ask ‘what do you need?’”

Communication can’t be ‘one size fits all’, especially since Gallagher Bassett encourages flexible working – from home, or longer or shorter days depending on preference – so agility in communication is key. The main aim is to “keep the conversation alive”.

So what does that L&D conversation look like? Both before and post-COVID, L&D is not something Gallagher Bassett ‘delivers’, emphasizes Cook. “The individual has to take responsibility for their own L & D program and it should be a two-way dialogue. Employee-led development is something we do really well here at Gallagher Bassett. In order to keep great talent L&D has to evolve with their career journey; that way you keep the skills and knowledge within the business too.”

Being proactive around those L&D conversations may not come naturally to everyone, so leaders should be ready to assist. “This is about real engagement and meaningful conversations around how people want to develop and how we can support that.”

At Gallagher Bassett, the development journey starts from the get-go, with very deliberate milestones built into the onboarding program. Frequent conversations with their team leader help new starters to settle in, understand the expectations of the role, and receive the appropriate training.

“The onboarding process both sets the person up for success in the transition to their role, and starts that dialogue so when they have their one-on-ones after 90 days, they know the conversation around development is always on the table.”

The company culture must support those conversations otherwise they won’t happen, says Cook. An open culture is also key to ensuring that individualized approach.

“At times we may be developing people to move on elsewhere that may not be with GB; equally we may be developing skills that are not immediately applicable. Where individuals are in control of how they want to develop, the culture has to be honest enough to say ‘we can work on that with you now’ or ‘we can’t do that now but will at some point in the future’.”

Your employee may not even want a pathway anywhere else, just to be the best they can in their existing role, says Cook. “We are very clear that we place as much value on people who contribute to the business through their technical expertise as we do those who are natural people managers.”

An added benefit of ongoing, meaningful dialogue is a much more authentic measure of performance.

“An employee can tick all the boxes in terms of, say, the volume of claims they are handling, but are they giving the customer a quality service? With that connection between the manager and the individual, you can ensure that what someone is delivering is connecting with the customer’s needs.”


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