Many business owners recognize the critical role employee engagement plays in retaining employees and improving productivity. And, according to an annual LinkedIn study called Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. So, if learning and development are so important to employees and will aid in engagement, how can organizations implement programs that deliver?
Identifying Learning Styles
As you can imagine, employees may prefer different learning styles. It is essential to understand those learning preferences to ensure you offer the best educational opportunities for your staff. For example, you may have:
- Visual learners digest information best when presented as an image. They like the data broken down into clear steps and presented in graphs, charts, and diagrams.
- Kinesthetic learners prefer to expand their knowledge through direct experience and hands-on practice. They like to dive right into practicing the concepts and appreciate simulations.
- Text-based learners absorb knowledge through the written word like articles and books. They learn best through reading material.
- Auditory learners gather information optimally when shared aloud through speeches, lectures, or one-on-one teaching conversations. They tend to talk their way through a problem or repeat information aloud to retain it.
In addition to these four styles, you may find certain people learn best socially while others thrive in a solitary learning setting. Offering a variety of learning methods is best to ensure all employees have the opportunity to absorb the information optimally.
Learning and Development Program Ideas
Traditional webinars and seminars
There is seemingly no shortage of seminars (and, of course, the more popular remote version – webinars) on topics such as customer service, graphic design, or management skills, to name a few. The biggest challenge is weeding through these opportunities to find the best ones. Consider starting with your industry associations and peers to identify webinars or seminars that resonated with like professionals.
Certifications and degrees
Your organization may benefit from employees obtaining a certification in a specific area. In this case, an employer may choose to absorb the cost of the certification. Or, you may offer paid hours during which an employee can work toward earning the certificate. If the certification will improve the employee’s effectiveness or professional acumen and further their career – your organization will benefit too!
Online learning tools
The demand for Learning Management Software (LMS) is on the rise. It’s trending as an economical way to give employees development opportunities they can complete on their own time, at their own pace. Top LMS companies like SAP Litmos or TalentLMS offer thousands of interactive courses with the ability to track completion and assess understanding. Courses can be assigned by managers or browsed by employees depending on pre-determined settings.
An excellent way for employees to learn (and develop relationships within the workplace) is to create a mentor program. You may consider pairing a seasoned employee with a newer one, an older employee with a younger one, or two employees with vastly different skills together. This way, each can learn from the other. For example, a seasoned employee may educate a newer one about the industry or guide them to established processes. In turn, a more recent employee may shed light on inefficiencies in the traditional way of doing things as they bring a fresh set of eyes to the organization.
Cross-departmental training or job shadowing
This type of training is valuable in offices where employees may need to step in and cover for another position. It’s also beneficial when an employee is interested in learning new skills or possibly moving to a different position within the organization. The idea is that each employee takes turns teaching their job responsibilities to one another.
Employee led training
Likewise, consider what valued talents your employees possess. For example, you may have a customer service pro willing to teach a phone etiquette or customer interaction session. Maybe an employee has Excel tips and tricks they could share. One way to organize this type of learning is to set aside time during regularly scheduled meetings for an assigned staff member to cover a specific topic. Another way is to create a lunch ‘n’ learn series. Employees love learning but will also feel valued teaching their skills and talents to their colleagues.
Check to see if your industry-specific organizations offer educational opportunities. This is a great way to keep employees updated on the latest trends, opportunities, and challenges within your industry.
Whether you’re just beginning a learning and development program or revamping your current one, don’t forget to measure the effectiveness and response to your efforts. You may need to adapt your programs as you go, but investing in your employees’ education will benefit everyone.