How to build a successful learning and development strategy

How to build a successful learning and development strategy

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Businesses and organisations are facing unprecedented challenges – and HR and learning leaders have never been under more pressure to deliver an effective learning and development strategy.

Forward-thinking companies recognise that a successful learning programme is key to creating alignment, driving productivity and engaging and motivating employees. These organisations are likely to reap the rewards of better employee retention, faster digital transformation and improved skills and software adoption.

Yet companies like this are the exception, rather than the rule. In this article, we share our hints and tips for how your business can benefit from effective deployment of a learning and development framework.


Why having a good L&D strategy is so important

The extent to which an organisation has a “learning and development culture” is sometimes referred to by its level of learning maturity.

Only 11% of over 700 organisations surveyed in the 2022 Learning Performance Benchmark Report*, operate to the highest level of learning maturity – referred to as a “high impact learning culture”.

At this level, “top-performing L&D leaders are two to three times more likely to report a reduction in employee turnover, an increase in organisational productivity, and an increase in organisational revenue.”

Sadly, 56% of organisations are at Stage 1 of learning maturity – “transactional interventions”. In other words, the use of tactical learning and development that have “surface impact”.

So, creating a high-impact learning culture from scratch can seem like a daunting task.

The good news is that by applying the correct principles and working with the right partners, it is possible to achieve a deep level of learning maturity quickly.


The role of L&D in your business

A good starting point is to remind ourselves of the role learning and development must play in an organisation:

  1. Attract and retain talent

There has been a significant shift toward self-directed learning in today’s workforces. Companies recognise they must invest in their people, providing them with the opportunity in the flow of work to develop and upskill to further their careers personally. This applies to retaining existing people as well as attracting new talent. A lack of a learning and development strategy will deter people from staying and is often cited as one of the biggest reasons for leaving an organisation.

  1. Develop tomorrow’s leaders

Organisations that invest in creating the next generation of new leaders from within can expect to see an impressive return. McKinsey report that “companies that invest in developing leaders during significant transformations are 2.4 times more likely to hit their performance targets.”

  1. Delivering a values-based culture

Today’s employees are concerned about working for organisations that pride themselves as good global citizens contributing to society’s more comprehensive aspects. Learning and development frameworks embrace this with a broader range of areas, including wellbeing, accessibility training and environmental considerations.

  1. Alignment behind the employer’s brand values

Investment in an effective learning and development strategy is an example of an organisation “living its brand values”. This, in turn, enhances its reputation, boosting its ability to attract the best available people and generating loyalty from existing employees.

  1. Increasing the happiness of the workforce

Learning new skills and competencies to provide employees with opportunities to grow and develop is a great motivator, proven to increase overall happiness and satisfaction with a current employer.


Building a learning and development framework

There are several considerations you need to consider when developing your L&D strategy. The list below is not exhaustive but acts as a helpful guide to follow. We help many of our customers work through these as part of their L&D implementation.

  1. Align your L&D strategy with business strategy

Business leaders want to see learning and development strategies supporting their chosen strategic direction. Many organisations are digitally transforming their organisations in a wide variety of ways. For example, keeping a new customer contact process will require further training and development skills that L&D teams need to provide.

Unfortunately, there is evidence that in 60% of cases**, L&D strategy doesn’t align with business strategy. This could be due to business leaders seeing L&D as a tactical course provider rather than a strategic change agent. It may also reflect the lack of public investment organisations prepared to create a genuine learning culture in the flow of work.

  1. Building L&D into the fabric of an organisation

HR and L&D leaders have a big task to convince their leadership of the potential power and impact of an effective learning and development strategy. This involves developing shared responsibility across all stakeholders for defining, prioritising, designing, and securing funds for L&D initiatives that build long-term capability.

Having the governance in place allows organisations to move quickly as and when required. For example, those organisations that had this in place were much more able to adapt to the new way of working caused by Covid 19.

  1. Identify competence gaps and try to rate their value.

Having identified the business priorities, assessing the levels of capability amongst the employees responsible for their delivery is essential. Again, this is an area of weakness for many organisations. Often assessments will be made amongst senior staff members, but not at the more junior levels.

Forward-thinking companies take a systemised approach to assessing capability. They address all the identified areas vital to the success of the business. For example, an e-commerce key requirement for an AI-based model for customer service will require skills and capabilities in big data and predictive analytics.

In businesses where there is a strong reliance on particular software tools, such as Salesforce or Workday, a digital adoption solution might be what’s require to assist hybrid and remote workers in the flow of work.

It’s also essential to find out what individual employees want to learn about to further their careers and develop new opportunities to incorporate these into the plans wherever possible.

  1. Design and deliver the learning and development pathways

Today, L&D is delivered through “blended learning” via cloud-based services – a combination of digital learning, eLearning and traditional face-to-face classroom learning. This is a far more efficient way of delivering L&D in the workflow to employees when needed. These methods apply to personal development training and mandatory safety and compliance training.

This can add a layer of complexity, but Omniplex Learning works with many organisations, providing everything they need to deliver a blended learning and development programme from one place.

Experience shows that it’s often best to start with a small pilot before rolling out training programmes across the enterprise.

Typically, these include:

-The ability to create eLearning courses and content using authoring tools such as Articulate 360. You can create your in-house content. Or buy it in from 3rd parties. This will depend on your skill levels within the team and the time and resources available. Articulate 360 sets the standard.

-There may be some learning content that needs to be specific and focused on your organisation’s needs. In this case, you can work with an external learning provider such as Omniplex Learning to create bespoke rather than generic content. They can advise on using easy-to-create video content in-house using Vyond.

-Not every course may require this, so bringing in 3rd party content may suffice.

-You may also need to consider using a Learning Management System such as Docebo to administer, document and track educational courses, and training programs, within your organisation. Again, this is something Omniplex Learning can advise you on regarding how it fits with your existing infrastructure.

-Omniplex Learning also runs a range of training courses to ensure you get the best from your digital learning investment.


  1. Measuring L&D impact on business performance

Business leaders expect to see results from their investment in L&D – just as they would with any other form of investment.

Traditional methods of measuring impact, such as satisfaction scores, completion ratios etc., are a helpful guide but often don’t justify the further investment to a CEO or FD.

Forward-thinking companies set KPIs for their learning and development assessments on outcome-based evaluations such as:

-Measurable impact on individual performance

-Level of employee engagement

-Improvements in Team effectiveness

-Improvements in speed/volume of business processes

-Capabilities audit, assessing capability gaps against desired competencies

-Improvements in the health of the organisation in terms of how it lives its brand values

-Whether employees are reporting a better work-life balance


  1. Integrating L&D performance with traditional HR processes

Traditional appraisals can be a once-a-year snapshot of an employee’s performance.

Forward-thinking organisations where L&D is at the heart of the culture have discovered that regular feedback in real-time from L&D programmes provides a much more meaningful and relevant review.

Skill gaps can be evaluated and plugged.  New areas that can be agreed upon for future personal development. Using a learning management system (LMS) such as Docebo, managers and individuals can track individual and group performance against business needs and objectives.

Get some expert help.

If you’re setting up a learning and development strategy from scratch or adapting an existing one, we may be able to help. Please email us at s[email protected], and we’ll discuss the right tools and services to support your journey.

*2022 Learning Performance Benchmark – Mind Tools for Business

** Human Capital Management Excellence Conference 2018, Brandon Hall Group.


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