Breeding a Successful Learning & Development (L&D) Program

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By Nigel Hapuarachchi

Regional Director of Business Development

Learning and development (L&D) programs are crucial for employees’ short- and long-term success. Even as organizations look to cut costs and reduce general expenses and overall spending during COVID-19, the importance of maintaining a culture of learning cannot be understated. Companies cannot simply postpone critical learning and skill-building; rather, they should be doing their part to promote these activities as much as possible.

Here are some pieces of advice for organizations that are looking to bolster their learning and development programs.

Leverage technology…

According to research from Gartner, 84% of L&D functions have canceled in-person training due to COVID-19, while 83% of them have decided to shift in-person training to a virtual setting. Online skill-building tools and educational platforms have presented employees with a whole new world of opportunity. Rather than sitting through multi-hour training sessions, individuals can now engage in bite-sized learning opportunities in the comfort of their own homes. If an employee experiences some downtime in their day, companies can encourage the use of online training, virtual webinars, informational podcasts, and more to help their workers efficiently hone their skills and abilities.

…but don’t forget about in-person training

Scientific evidence has consistently supported the fact that humans learn most effectively through in-person, hands-on, instructor-led training. These educational opportunities are often more engaging than virtual courses or videos and can have more impactful long-term benefits for the participant. While the safety and well-being of your employees should remain the top priority for every organization, don’t forget about the value of in-person experiences when health concerns fade away.

Be concise

People’s attention spans seem to be shortening by the day. Companies need to be cognizant of the length of their learning and development engagements. Don’t provide training that is too dense and jam-packed with information. Organizations should instead design their L&D programs around a few key points that individuals will be able to take away from the training. By emphasizing no more than three or four primary objectives, the learning opportunity is bound to be more successful and productive.

Offer ongoing coaching and leadership support

Employees are always craving added feedback from their managers. Not only will frequent check-in meetings from company leaders give these workers some extra daily motivation, but it will allow them to continue to grow and develop in their current roles. Even if managers are forced to coach their employees via videoconference or other virtual means of communication, the value of this feedback is critical to overall workplace success and the cultivation of positive company culture.

Incentivize L&D opportunities

For companies that really want to promote the professional development of their employees, why not offer a reward for participation? Build out the framework for individual- or team-based competitions where workers can earn points by taking part in different L&D engagements. At the conclusion of a few weeks or months, individuals who rack up a certain amount of points can earn gift cards, company apparel, or even some PTO days. This is a fun and engaging way to aid your employees in picking up new skills and developing their professional minds – something that will ultimately boost company performance in the long run.

Interested in learning more about workplace learning and development? Check out Acara’s top 10 HR blogs here.

This blog was written by Acara’s Director of Business Development, Nigel Hapuarachchi.