By: Erin Peikoff, Organizational Learning Consultant
“A company’s ability to innovate, improve, and learn ties directly to the company’s value,” said famed management consultants David P. Norton and Robert S. Kaplan.
It’s important to continuously search for ways to improve efficiencies and processes in the way you do business. Whether achieving those improvements through product innovation, exceptional customer service, internal processes improvements, revenue growth, or cost of production decreases, Learning and Development (L&D) has become a driving force in the achievement of such goals, and here’s why.
The shift to knowledge-based organizations
In the 1990s, we saw a shift to knowledge-based organizations. The concept of work changed from manufacturing to knowledge work. Companies placed more value on educated workers and an employee’s skill set, a term Economist Theodre W.Shultz referred to as “Human Capital”.
We witnessed the historic high over the last 20 years of overall L&D spending, according to the Conference Board of Canada. The spike in spending correlated with the shift to learning organizations; companies spent an average of $1,207 per employee in 1993. Since then, L&D spending is down 40 per cent, even though ongoing investment into the education, knowledge and skills development of employees is a crucial part of a company’s growth strategy.
The Great Places to Work Guide to Greatness states, “The 100 Best Companies are committed to employee development as a top strategic priority.” A couple companies on that list: Google and Salesforce.com, two of the largest, tech-savviest companies that recruit the upper echelon of knowledge-based employees.
Your company likely isn’t as large as Google or Salesforce.com, but you can use L&D to help meet your company goals by following these steps.
L&D is the essential foundation for companies to achieve their strategic goals.
1. Recognize L&D’s value
First, recognize L&D as an indispensable resource and a must to meet your company goals.
The Balanced Scorecard (BSC) – one of the world’s most popular approaches to strategic planning tools – places L&D as the essential foundation for companies to achieve their strategic goals. According to the BSC, ongoing L&D helps businesses improve internal business processes, customer satisfaction, and financial stewardship.
Click here to learn more about the Balanced Scorecard and how it can help your business.
2. Design your L&D plan
Not all L&D plans are created equal. The design and delivery of your plan are important. Think about what you want your employees to learn and how they’ll learn it. A well-designed plan will help your employees achieve learning performance goals while the wrong one will hamper learning and discourage them.
How to make a well-designed learning plan
Learning products need to be accessible, fun, personalized and engaging. It’s not enough to assign courses and require mandatory attendance and successful completion as part of an employee’s performance review. Learners today want a hand in building what they are learning, to be the ones in the driver’s seat of their learning path and to pull information, rather than have information pushed onto them. A well-designed learning product will:
- Define clear, measurable training objectives
- Engage the learner frequently using different learning styles
- Build in feedback, reward and recognition before, during and after the course
- Evaluate your course’s success
- Be FUN
3. Invest to achieve success
Next, invest the resources necessary to achieve your L&D plan. Knowledge-based organizations that heavily invest in their employees see high returns in employee engagement and loyalty, which may lead to customer satisfaction and product quality improvements.
Get started on your L&D!
Employees are your most valuable resource. Staying ahead of their career paths will keep them engaged and helps retain that top talent within the organization, saving you expensive turnover costs. Continued learning and training will help them gain necessary skills to improve your business. Combine that with one-on-one coaching and goal setting that touches on personal and professional goals and you’ll greatly increase the likelihood your company achieves its goals.