Companies can hire the best talent and keep the staff that have made them successful. However, lacking any opportunities for learning & development at work can undo this.
Successful businesses have seen employees leave for other roles. Some even join competitors due to a lack of potential to grow.
To ensure employees progress in their roles and contribute more to a company, certain resources should be available. For example, providing learning and development programs in the workplace, such as online courses.
But there’s more to improving an employee at work than just by engaging in online courses. Peninsula explores how and why a company should invest in training, learning & developing.
Differences between ‘training’ and ‘development’
While we frequently use them as interchangeable terms, there is actually a difference between the two. To maximise the performance and satisfaction of your employees, you will need to use both methods.
The core difference is that training is more focused on increasing the skills and knowledge of an employee for doing a particular job or role. Development focuses not just on skills for the current job or role, but the capacities for future roles of increasing difficulty and scope.
Now we know the difference between the two, let’s look at how they can both be implemented in the workplace.
What is learning and development in the workplace?
Learning and development at work is the progression and nurturing of an employee’s skills. This can include management skills for those training to be in charge of other employees. It can also include developing IT skills, such as learning how to code.
Both an employee or employer can initiate learning and development in the workplace.
For example, an employee may wish to develop their time management skills to become more effective, and request training from their line manager. Alternatively, a line manager may discuss improving time management skills with an employee if they feel they are not being as productive as possible.
Examples of training and development methods at work include:
- On-site training: this includes more than just online courses. For example, bringing in external specialists for training programs, and shadowing managers.
- Off-site training: this includes attending conferences and engaging in special external training programs.
Understanding what counts as learning and development opportunities is important. Without understanding this, it's possible to exclude some employees. They may feel that their personal development is not in line with business goals.
An example of an employee engaging in talent development would involve them shadowing a manager for management training. An example of something that is not career development is learning unnecessary skills. Such as a junior making coffee rather than assisting with workloads.
Developing a learning and development strategy
The strategy sets out what skills the workforce needs and how they can be developed alongside the business. This will reflect the overall business strategy, and the training should help drive progress towards that goal.
A learning and development strategy’s core aim will be to ensure the organisation's performance needs are me. It may focus on those identified as high-performing or high-potential individuals (‘talent’), who are critical to long-term success. This can typically include mentoring programmes with senior leaders, in-house development programmes and project-based learning.
The starting point for an effective strategy is to recognise the internal and external context of your organisation. This includes the industry, business needs and the rationale that drives overall organisational strategy. As well as reflecting the business aim, the strategy must align with organisational culture and address operational realities and constraints.
One of the key areas that need to be taken into account when developing a strategy is budget. Being open-minded to what can be achieved with little or no budget is useful, but you should also set aside a substantial budget if you are serious about employee growth.
Learning and development policy
Once you have determined the strategy, you must action and implement it. A strategy is simply a statement of intent. This is where policy comes in to give guidance as to how it will be implemented, and who will implement it.
You must decide how growing organisational needs are analysed against performance gaps. From this analysis, you set priorities for the plan to address these gaps. You set these priorities out in a learning policy, which explains how the business will implement the strategy.
Development and appraisals
Using performance management and performance reviews can help HR and line managers achieve business targets by, amongst other things, making sure their teams have the right level of capability.
Individual development needs may be included in appraisal or development reviews and be based on learning goals and personal development plans. Be sure to factor the agility to respond quickly and appropriately to regular manager meetings with staff into the strategy.
Benefits of a learning and development strategy
It’s important to note that the request for learning & development at work can be a two-way street. Whether an employee requests it or an employer seeks it, learning & development can be beneficial to a company.
Staff training and development is vital for employee engagement. It accelerates progress and success within a business.
By increasing employees’ skills and aiding their learning journeys, a company can improve. These improvements and benefits include:
- Securing talent: some may believe that training employees can increase their chances of the employee leaving. However, many companies have found the opposite to be true.
Companies that invest in their employees can expect more company loyalty. This makes an employee eager to progress within the business.
- Improving productivity: more capable employees will be more likely to provide better working results. By improving their professional development, it’s more likely that employees will develop their skills.
- Increasing profits: getting more out of your employees will lead to greater profits from their efforts. Some businesses may even experience new opportunities thanks to developed employees.
For example, word of mouth of how well an employee represented the company during a conference. This employee to employee network can only benefit the image and reputation of a company.
Providing opportunities for training and development can occur all year round or at specific times, such as a ‘learning at work’ week. However, an employer should make sure that they effectively carry the training out.
Ensuring success with employee training and development
Fostering a culture of learning within a company can make or break attempts to successfully train employees. It may sound unusual, but even if a company provides opportunities to grow the employee may not wish to engage with it.
There are ways a business can ensure that an employee engages in training and development:
- Incentivise training and development: establish how specific training will benefit the employee. For example, state that certain skills will help pursue a promotion or pay rise.
- Make it team training: ensure that an entire team or department improves together. By engaging in employee education and training together, a group will be more likely to succeed. This is thanks to being able to rely on each other, as well as wanting to be a part of the team.
- Consider employee to employee learning: employee shadowing programs and assisting managerial employees can be effective. By providing an employee with a peer to aid their training, a company can effectively train two employees at once. One can gain first-hand knowledge about a role, while the other will improve managerial duties.
When an employer wants to propose learning and development, or an employee requests it, it’s often helpful to establish a training program. An L&D strategy can help both employees and employers with establishing the goals of training, including how to achive them and by when.
HR assistance with learning & development
Peninsula has provided expert advice to learning and development for companies all across the globe.
For any help, advice or assistance, get in touch with our HR experts today.