This article was updated on July 10, 2018.
Effective workplace learning programs help your organization achieve two main goals — they meet the needs of the organization and improve employees' abilities to do their jobs. According to Forbes, it's time to focus on real-time learning that's relevant to employees' current roles, and turn away from generic, short-term seminars that aren't directly related to business needs or workers.
Instead of thinking of training and development as something that workers earn the right to after spending years with the organization, it's important that businesses embrace continuous employee learning at every level. Harvard Business Review reports that programs that focus on employees' strengths can boost energy and wellness and create the context for higher engagement and learning.
Here are five strategies to help HR leaders craft effective workplace learning programs that give employees a voice, but still align to the organization's most urgent needs.
1. Implement a Learning Management System (LMS)
Employee learning programs at scale can be hard to implement successfully. Often, these programs involve determining individual needs, tracking progress and accessing resources that can help close knowledge gaps. An integrated LMS allows organizations to personalize the learning process at an appropriate level, while accessing world-class resources to deliver as-needed training. An LMS helps HR leaders and their teams identify gaps, define learning paths for each employee and deliver mixed-mode training that's available through video courses, webinars, written texts and access to live events.
2. Develop Learning Paths for Each Employee
One of the benefits of an integrated LMS is the ability to create and deploy customized learning paths for each employee. Even if HR leaders choose not to fully integrate technology for learning management, developing customized learning paths for each employee has several benefits.
Employees are able to share what they'd like to learn and then focus their professional development on clear goals like better performance — preparing them for new opportunities and positioning them for long-term growth in the firm. Managers can incorporate learning needs assessments in the annual review process and then use regular meetings to set objectives and evaluate progress.
3. Use Data for Better Decision-Making
HR leaders building a learning program can leverage data for better results. For example, data can help to quickly identify what knowledge gaps exist, what areas of the business they're affecting and how effective specific learning interventions and programs are. By using data to validate the choices made about where to focus learning efforts, you can set clear performance metrics to improve overall ROI.
4. Think Processes, Not Events
Forbes reports that a one-day training seminar — or bringing in a guru to teach an entire team new techniques — is rarely effective. According to Forbes, this practice is ineffective for a number of reasons — people forget what they learn, don't get to apply it or management never creates time to revisit the techniques and think about how to use them strategically. Instead of investing in one-day learning events, look at models like mentorships and coaching for long-term sustainable results.
5. Ask Employees for Input and Feedback
An integrated learning program can better meet the needs of employees if their voice is incorporated into the process. Businesses are achieving this goal in a variety of ways, including simply asking what employees want to learn through surveys or during reviews. Often, an employee knows better than anyone what they need to improve their job performance, such as better statistical skills or knowledge about an upcoming trend in their field. For example, a software programmer identifying the next language they need to know. Employee feedback can help businesses invest in the right areas for further development.
Effective workplace learning programs have to balance employee needs with the organization's future plans for growth. By incorporating employee-driven suggestions and data when developing an integrated learning management program, HR leaders set the stage for successful learning at all levels and sustained growth throughout the enterprise.