Opinion: Three tips to ensure your L&D plans have real business impact

by External10 Jun 2015
HR leaders agree that employee development should be an organisational priority. But do they practice what they preach? The research suggests most companies don’t. In Bersin by Deloitte’s Predictions for 2015, only 40% of companies rated themselves as ready or very ready in learning and development, compared to 75% in 2014.
The reality is many organisations don’t even give their line managers the tools they need to provide employees with the right development support. Without this support, employee engagement and retention rates are likely to suffer.
Ongoing employee development is critical because it helps ensure you have highly skilled people who are ready and able to achieve your mission and your strategy. So how can you make sure your learning and development plans improve employee engagement and give your company a competitive advantage?

The secret to a successful L&D plan is to make sure it is ongoing, flexible and benefits your employees and your company’s bottom line. Here are three tips to help make learning and development a priority in your organisation.
1. Build learning into your culture
Workplaces are always busy, and it often seems like there’s no time for learning. But you can squeeze it in by holding weekly lunch and learns.
From hot industry topics, new technologies or presentations on a specific aspect of your company, the more employees know about your organisation, the easier it is to think strategically about the future of the business. Lunch and learns are also opportunities to reinforce your corporate culture and foster communication across your organisation.

2. Ensure regular manager/employee one-on-ones
To build a strong learning plan, you need to know what skills your employees currently have, what their career plans are, and what skill gaps they need to close in order to move up the ladder. Managers should regularly meet with employees in order to build a good relationship with them.

Holding one-on-ones also allows managers and employees to set specific learning and development goals together and track progress. Another bonus: employees who are responsible and held accountable for their own learning and development are more engaged in the process and motivated to advance their career.

3. Assign stretch goals
Give employees the opportunity to test out their skills by giving them a ‘stretch’ goal – one that will be challenging, but not too far out of their comfort zone. Or assign work that exposes an employee to another part of the organisation or allows them to use their skills in a different application (e.g. a trainer providing technical support, or a technical writer creating marketing materials).
Whatever method you use, ensure that employees have the opportunity to put their new skills into practice. There’s no sense in developing a learning culture, and not putting it to good use.
Getting started
Supporting employee development helps ensure you have a highly skilled workforce that's ready and able to help you achieve your mission and strategy.
To help guide you through the process of creating or improving your learning and development plans, check out our handy employee development templates and checklists.
Those resources will help you get started by diagnosing development needs so you can identify appropriate learning activities. The next step involves creating individualised development plans for each employee. And finally, you need to take steps to ensure employees and the organisation benefit from the development opportunities offered.

And if you’re interested in fully integrating your L&D plans into your talent management program, take a free trial of Halogen Learning.