As the economy bounced back in the wake of the pandemic, having top talent was top of mind for most employers across the world. And the way to do so was through training their existing talent. Rather than looking for talent outside of the organization, employers had the opportunity to grow new skills from within and grow as a company, too.
Because employee learning and development isn’t just for upskilling the workforce or onboarding new hires. It also directly impacts morale and culture by increasing employee engagement, reducing turnover, and opening the door to innovation.
The shift to remote work created new ways of doing business and sped up the digital transformation already underway. It also revealed skill gaps and emphasized the importance of the employee experience. So, focusing on learning and development now prepares organizations to grow. It helps employees and companies to overcome internal and external challenges as they continue to move into post-pandemic success.
How large companies across industries are implementing L&D programs
Some of the biggest global companies recognize the value of learning and development programs. They’ve created learning cultures that help employees feel valued and give them the resources to be successful at work.
For example, global food delivery service Deliveroo found business picking up during the pandemic. They had to adapt quickly to accommodate the rush of new restaurants clamoring for their services. To keep employees up to date with new products and processes, they made training an integral part of their culture. Now, they deliver consistent training that helps employees better engage and interact with customers.
Other large organizations are also successfully supporting employee performance with integrated L&D strategies. For instance:
- Amazon helps employees own their roles from their very first day. They offer pre-hire training and leadership development courses to incoming recruits.
- AT&T supports careers with an executive-led corporate university. They focus on teaching employees the skills they need to stay relevant and progress in the industry.
- Pixar promotes a culture of continuous learning. They offer both mandatory and optional courses across disciplines at every level, from new hires to top executives.
- Etsy encourages learning with both traditional training and a variety of employee-taught courses. They also have a dedicated learning and development team to help employees plan their career paths.
These organizations, and countless others, have recognized the power of a learning culture in overall corporate success. What’s common in all these cases is that training is not a one-off event, or an exclusive perk for a few. Rather, learning and development programs span across the organization and help develop new skills among people from different backgrounds, different areas of expertise, and even different generations.
Designing inclusive learning programs
The first step into increasing employee morale through training is by making sure everyone is involved. As Gen Z enters the picture, many organizations now employ a four- or even five-generation workforce. Each generation has unique traits and learning styles, so traditional, one-size-fits-all training won’t necessarily work. But with the right approach, training can be accessible and successful for everyone.
For example, when it comes to eLearning, Gen X and Millennials are highly likely to adopt technology quickly. And Gen Z was born into it. But how do you help those less tech-savvy employees engage? And what about diversity in roles and locations? Training remote or deskless workers, contractors, or freelancers poses a unique set of challenges.
The key is to design training to meet employees where they are. Here are three approaches that speak to multiple learning styles.
1. Using the right platform
Online training cuts down on costs and caters to busy schedules. It can also be more engaging, with interactive content and diverse media. But engagement only happens when people can comfortably use it.
For employees of any generation, a user-friendly LMS is key to a seamless learning experience. Especially those who are less tech-savvy shouldn’t feel overwhelmed by having to learn how to use a brand new tool. This is why it makes sense to choose a platform that allows customizing the training portal. When the online training environment matches the company’s colors and overall aesthetic, employees will feel more comfortable using it. This is also a good way to engage remote workers who might not be that familiar with the company’s brand.
2. Offering microlearning
Microlearning is training presented in short, bite-sized lessons, accessible even through mobile devices. It’s a good fit for on-the-go employees and those used to navigating their smartphones — which is most people these days.
The benefit of using a mobile learning platform is that you can deliver microlearning sessions from anywhere, at any time, to all kinds of audiences. It could be busy employees who don’t have the time to sit down and watch an hour-long presentation, deskless workers, or people with short attention spans. Employees will simply open the mobile app, start consuming training content for as long as they want, and get back to their tasks.
3. Providing social learning opportunities
Many companies use social media to supplement learning and inspire collaboration. It’s a low- or no-cost way to extend employees’ learning experience. For example, companies create Facebook pages or use hashtags to engage employees in a broader conversation.
They share YouTube content, articles, and posts that have been vetted and curated to fit their training. Younger employees, in particular, are used to connecting and self-learning through these kinds of online resources.
Why learning should be a regular part of the employee experience
Whatever the approach, when training is a consistent part of the company culture, employees progress naturally and effectively in their jobs. And the company grows with them.
For example, proactive compliance training keeps employees up to date with new regulations and prepares them to address unexpected situations when they arise. L&D programs also fill skill gaps and help cut down on the costly process of finding and onboarding new hires.
Updating employees’ knowledge and preparing them for career advancement is not just an efficient business practice. It shows people that their company invests in their futures — and helps them feel valued. Investing in employee development is a big morale builder. And high morale, in turn, drives employee satisfaction, retention, and productivity.
Employees value learning, too
According to recent research, two in three employers say maintaining employee morale has been a challenge. In addition, 35% of employers are seeing changes in employee productivity, and one out of three have seen a noticeable increase in requests for information about employee assistance programs.
Quality talent is a company’s greatest asset. While companies can never completely eliminate employee turnover, they can decrease it by simply supporting workers in their quest for learning and development.
Eighty-one percent of remote employees surveyed said they consider work-related training important. And 61% said they need more training to do their jobs. Employees want the opportunity to learn, and companies that offer it have a significant impact on their work experience. According to the research, employees who receive training from their employers report:
- Feeling more valued (63%) than those who don’t receive training (44%)
- Higher levels of happiness while working from home (73% versus 64%)
- Better communication with their team (65% versus 52%)
- Improved productivity (72% versus 65%)
Investing in today prepares you for the future
Learning and development should be an integral part of a company’s success strategy. It has a big impact on morale and culture as well as employee skills and abilities. When companies show employees they’re invested in their success, they prepare them to lead the organization. And they build an organization that’s prepared to overcome challenges and continue to grow.
By Thanos Papangelis