Over the years, we’ve seen the business environment evolve beyond what is considered traditional.
This is even more prominent when we factor in the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. And more than ever, all hands must be on deck to deal with the demands of a dynamic business environment.
Organizations need to embrace a learning and development strategy that helps employees cope with these situations.
Several studies suggest that employee training benefits both the company and its workers. For this reason, it remains one of the top considerations for job seekers.
However, organizational learning and development strategies also have to be effective.
As HR and senior management organize the right training programs, employees must be appropriately positioned to receive them.
So, how do you ensure harmony among all the different parts and players?
In this guide, we’ll explore all there is to know about learning and development in the context of employee training, the benefits, and how an organization can set up a successful learning and development strategy.
You’ll also find examples and templates on how you can create that strategy yourself.
Let’s dive right in!
Table of contents
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What is a learning and development plan?
A learning and development plan involves the continuous educational processes of learning new working methods and concepts, improving skills, and gaining more knowledge about one’s duties within an organization.
Organization development programs update employees on new trends, skills, and technologies within the global workforce.
It also serves to inform workers of new policies, laws, safety information, as well as organizational procedures and rules.
An effective employee development plan is accomplished through several means, and it involves every department and rank.
Why your organization needs a learning and development plan
If properly organized and carefully followed through, a learning and development plan will benefit an organization in several ways.
These are some of the crucial upsides to investing in an employee development plan.
1. Attract and retain top talent
In the past, employee development was carried out to improve productivity. Now, it also focuses on attracting top talent, especially in industries where there are a good number of opportunities for employees to switch employers.
The opportunity to learn more and develop is undoubtedly one of the key considerations when selecting an employer.
Employees want to remain relevant, and they recognize that that is only made possible with a professional development plan in place.
Therefore, a good learning and development plan appeals to potential employees and helps retain talent within a company’s workforce. And just like in sales – replacing employees is much more expensive than acquiring them, with a 2020 Work Institute study showing voluntary employee turnover costs U.S. businesses more than $630 billion annually.
2. Provide upskilling and career development opportunities
Learning and development plans provide upskilling opportunities. This empowers employees to perform their duties better and prepare for new or more responsibilities that align more with their strengths.
When the company adopts newer technologies, the employees can help the company grow.
3. Enhance employee capability
An organization’s human capital is a key part of the development process, which is why its knowledge base needs to be consistently updated to avoid a decline in capability.
Employee learning contributes to this and positions the organization better when hitting its development goals.
In fact, companies that invest in their employees and leaders during transformational changes are 2.4 times more likely to achieve their performance targets.
4. Recognize an organization’s strengths and weaknesses
When an organization invests in learning and development plans, the avenues to recognize strengths and weaknesses open up.
This makes it possible to maintain the positives and continuously grow their strengths while working on weaknesses. Also, this increases the overall confidence within the organization and maintains a healthy working environment.
5. Ensure brand consistency throughout the organization
Updating employees on the latest industry trends and internal policies ensures transparency and that no one is left behind.
The outcome is an organization with everyone on the same page regarding policies and collaboration among employees.
6. Improve organization values and culture
The reality of today’s workforce is an increasingly hybrid and global model, with teams dispersed across a wide range of locations.
Despite having employees working from different places, a company must maintain its values-based culture and build a sense of community. An effective learning plan is required to instill this into employees regardless of where they work from.
7. Boost employee performance and productivity
One of the ultimate aims of a learning and development strategy is to enhance performance and productivity.
Since employees gain knowledge that makes their work easy, they will understand their roles better and develop the confidence to handle tasks more appropriately.
8. Increase customer satisfaction
A trained workforce is crucial in increasing customer satisfaction.
When employees understand their roles, have confidence, and are dedicated to the company’s goals, the customers get improved services and remain happy with the company’s services.
How to create and roll out a solid learning and development plan in 6 steps
Now that you already know the benefits of learning and development in an organization, your next step is to develop a plan and implement it.
The implementation and delivery to employees are just as important.
Below are the steps for achieving a successful learning and development strategy.
1. Assess your organization’s objectives
A good starting point when creating an employee’s development training program is to assess the organization’s goals, business objectives, and general strategy.
This part should form the bedrock of your strategy – because for any program to work, it has to align with business goals.
A learning and development strategy that is not in agreement with company objectives could be irrelevant or, worse, hurt the company’s growth. Therefore, it’s essential to engage senior management for this step.
The HR department should create a checklist of business goals and consider whether the program contributes or not.
You can use the sample checklist below as a starting point:
- Where does the business aim to be in the next 5, 10, or 15 years?
- What values is the business known for?
- How can the business be more competitive?
- How can new technology trends affect the business?
- How does the training help the business expand?
These and other relevant questions based on company goals should help clarify employee development needs about the overall business strategy.
2. Find out your employees’ learning and development needs
The employees should be at the core of any business and its learning and development strategy.
Since the whole idea behind an employee development program is to improve employee capabilities and employee performance, their individual needs should be on the top of the list in the program.
Not only will this increase employees’ learning, but it will also encourage employees to perform better, be engaged, and promote retention.
This step will clarify the skills of the employee and what they need to do to improve their performance. It also prevents a one-size-fits-all approach to learning and development, except for general programs, such as social learning and health or safety training.
The HR department needs to effectively formulate methods to assess the team’s learning and development needs. This is typically done through supervisors and self-assessments.
Self-assessment can be tricky with tendencies of false information, but if used correctly, it may also be the best form of getting data from employees.
At this point, it is important to stress the need to constantly communicate with employees and incorporate them into the company’s core belief systems and decision-making processes.
Employee loyalty and participation increase when they feel that their opinion counts and their work is valued.
3. Design the process
Based on the first two steps above, the HR department should be able to create a learning and development plan that works for the business and its employees.
There is already a foundation of organizational priorities, and the development needs are clarified.
Next, the development strategy should use modern training methods like presentation software while considering budget, timing, training contents, and materials.
These are examples of some modern training methods:
- In-person sessions
- Classroom style sessions
- Online training
- Certification programs
Companies can determine the most effective learning methods based on strategic objectives and intended business impact. They may also consider employee preferences and experiences.
4. Roll out the programs
Training delivery is an essential step in ensuring the professional development of employees.
No matter how much planning you’ve put into the development strategy, the delivery must be top-notch for a robust learning experience that generates new competencies.
Businesses can use an in-house instructor or work with external trainers. The objective is to ensure effective learning through engaging sessions.
Trainings also need to be delivered in feasible mediums. For example, a company with a hybrid remote work model may have the option to host or create online courses for those who can’t attend in person. The key is to remove all friction for all employees to participate.
5. Assess individual and overall performance
According to a LinkedIn report, less than 10% of CEOs report seeing the business impact of their learning and development strategy.
These numbers are shockingly low and could be traced to several factors, such as not identifying the actual training needs of employees or failing to deliver the training effectively and engagingly.
Nevertheless, you must always assess the impact of these learning and development programs.
Feedback from participants is one of the standard methods, but assessing individual and aggregated performance after the program rollout will give you the best picture.
Make sure to set up key performance indicators to measure how much of the new skills employees were able to retain and use and the impact on company performance and processes. This reveals pending issues and future requirements for subsequent training.
6. Improve learning and development strategy
Lastly, you can improve your learning and development strategy by addressing employee feedback.
Allow employee feedback and consider whether you have to revise company learning objectives, adjust employee needs, or switch up the process.
5 learning and development plan examples and templates you can use
Since it can be challenging to create a functional training strategy, we’ve developed a few learning and development templates that you can use.
You can apply any of them by replacing the details with relevant data from your organization.
1. Learning and development plan template
2. Team development plan template
3. Manager and employee development checklist
4. Employee training newsletter template
5. Learning and development report template
Another benefit of these templates is the speed at which you can create your learning and development checklists and reports.
Take it from Lindsey Mullins, an instructional designer working at one of the biggest retail brands in the United States. Together with her team, Lindsey creates learning and development content through visuals like infographics and presentations.
“Within Piktochart, the templates can be customized to create a beautiful and professional visual using half the time with a different program or when starting from scratch,” says Lindsey.
Watch the short video clip below to learn the different ways that Lindsey and her team use Piktochart for their organization’s learning and development projects.
Getting started with your learning and development plan
Now that you understand the importance of a learning and development strategy for a business, there’s no better time to dedicate resources to create one that works.
A lot of these training programs may end up being ineffective. This happens when companies make assumptions, don’t carefully communicate with employees, or skip any of the steps outlined above to develop a successful program.
As mentioned above, it is essential to make your learning and development strategies employee-focused. Having them at the center ensures streamlined and practical training. However, it should also be aligned with your company goals and be delivered in an engaging and feasible way.
While these may seem a bit daunting at first, the reward is worth it. It can help employees perform better, foster cooperation, reduce employee turnover, and promote growth externally and internally in an organization.
Use the templates above as starting points. If you want to explore more relevant templates, you can create a free Piktochart account.
Want a head start with your learning and development projects?
Grab our hot-off-the-press templates for your learning and development goals in your organization. They’re easy to edit and customize!Get access to the templates