Organizational success is closely related to the organization’s capacity to adapt to market conditions that change at rapid speeds. And since adaptability is inherently linked to learning, the way businesses approach this field has a lot of baring in their results.
Every board of directors will always declare that continuous learning and development for their employees is one of the top priorities yet most often than not increase in sales or customer retention end up consuming a big chunk of the resources. Even when that’s not the case, it proves rather hard to design and implement effective programs that have a positive long term effect.
With increasing employee turnover, offices scattered all around the globe, people working from home (or wherever they feel comfortable and have a good enough internet connection) it seems difficult to design learning paths that will fit and include everyone as well as get results.
4 Must-haves for the best workplace learning results
There are, though, some things that L&D specialists ought to take into consideration before beginning to set up the department’s battle plan. Here are four aspects of a workplace learning strategy that guarantee positive results.
A coherent strategy
One of the most common mistakes business make when it comes to learning is that they use it more like an intervention rather than an ongoing process.
If at one point there is a decrease in revenues, suddenly sales and marketing courses are demanded and deployed immediately, sometimes without even conducting a proper training needs assessment beforehand. Before employees can thoroughly take in and apply that knowledge and with no time for an appropriate follow-up and evaluation, something else becomes imperative and the same people are enrolled in different modules.
When it’s time to make an overview there are a lot of training hours involved and not much in the results department to show for them. That’s why it’s important to first sit down and make a long-term plan based on the current situation and the market forecasts. With a clear blueprint, progress is a lot easier to track and it’s also something to show in those budget meetings.
Rapid interventions should not be totally ruled out but they should not be the general ‘modus operandi’.
Alignment with company objectives
Corporate learning is meant to support business results. Sure, it’s also a good incentive for employees who care now more than ever about their personal development and growth but mostly it should be about helping organizations meet their goals. Designing a whole learning path based on customer satisfaction and problem solving at a time when sales are at low is counterproductive.
L&D specialists in charge with designing the learning programs need to look into the declared objectives of the company and then conduct honest interviews with managers and team-leaders to find out what they feel is missing and would be of help to their teams. Their input is valuable not only because it offers great insights but also because by asking it they buy in to the programs and will be a lot easier to deploy them.
Since learning takes time and this most often comes out of office hours, it is very important for managers to see the value of certain training modules and encourage employees to enroll in them.
A good evaluation system
As I have mentioned before, it often happens that there is nothing much after training. Most modules have tests at the end and participants are also asked to give feedback but since the real measure of corporate learning success is how well in translates into actual results on the job, these two do not give a good indication of that.
Training programs should result in a return on investment whether this is in the long term or the short term. Instructional designers should clearly outline how the training modules will help the organization fully achieve its goals – this will also prove very valuable in getting managers on board. The time-frames should be identified at the beginning, and a re-evaluation of the programs should be conducted on a regular basis.
This will mean more work for team-leaders since evaluation of how well employees perform on the job are in their area of expertise but if everything is made clear right off the bat and the training modules are in line with what they asked for their teams there should not me much complaining about that.
Going digital with learning
Classroom training has been the norm for corporate training for some time now. While it still has its merits and there are instances when this version is preferable, e-learning is the best option in today’s workplace.
Apart from the fact that it takes away the logistic hassle of finding an appropriate venue and getting everyone’s schedules to match, it is cost effective, environmentally friendly and in line with the way today’s employees like to learn. With time being of the essence, e-learning offers the easy and accessible alternative of micro-learning – having the information divided into bite-size nuggets that can be taken in at the user’s convenience.
Taking learning online also has the perk of being able to include various media that renders the modules more entertaining. Varied content that can be accessed on a number of mobile devices will ensure continual learning and increased engagement in these programs.
All in all
Workplace learning best practices can vary depending upon the particular situation, culture and maturity of each organization. However, a solid strategy rooted in company objectives and a very clear and thorough way of evaluating training programs are the sure way to effectiveness.
Raluca Cristescu is a Faculty of Letters graduate with over ten years of experience in corporate training, focused mainly on soft skills for customer service and direct sales.