Did you know that over 60% of employees feel that they are not provided with opportunities to learn and grow! (Gallup) Learning accelerates employee development, fuels prosperity, and is about much more than continuing education credits. By offering the right learning opportunities for your employees, you can ensure your firm is leading the industry and that your teams will be ready to take on the next new project.
Learning plans are an underutilized, but powerful tool. According to HR Magazine, companies that invest even $1,500 on training per employee can see an average of 24% more profit than companies who invest less. Learning opportunities go hand-in-hand with employee engagement. They increase the productivity of individuals, teams, departments or locations; prepare the workforce for the planned turnover of key leadership positions; and align learning with employee development plans and goals.
Providing learning opportunities to your employees will drive a variety of positive business outcomes across the firm from onboarding to organizational alignment.
#1 Learning and Onboarding
Learning plans should be used to support the onboarding process. You can shorten the length of time it takes to get new hires up-to-speed and assigned to billable projects. Help new hires feel you are willing to invest in them by sharing all of the learning options your firm offers. By focusing on learning and development during onboarding, you can help your new hires get acclimated to their role (initial or transitional) and integrated into your firm’s culture.
You also have valuable information regarding skill and competency gaps for the initial role and an understanding of how the employee envisions bridging existing gaps quickly. You may have asked about the new hire’s preferred learning style and how they best implement learning and knowledge gains, as well as their preferred frequency, style and methods for receiving feedback. Effective interviews and early new hire feedback sessions will help you understand what motivates them to succeed and what you can do to incentivize them.
#2 Connect the Dots between Learning, Development, & Performance
Want to have a serious impact on your organization? One of the most overlooked opportunities to increase engagement is by shifting focus to development plans during performance reviews. We all know the traditional performance review process. Employees meet with their manager to discuss the results of their previous year’s performance, and learn their new goals for the next review. How effective is this retrospective approach? Does is motivate your employees and project teams to do exceptional work? Probably not. Instead, focus on the future with a forward-facing strategy to help your employees recognize a tangible benefit.
Development plans, when leveraged consistently, can help you to facilitate alignment between your business goals and employee performance and growth. Learning and development plans help to prevent stagnation in your workforce, which results in increased employee engagement AND improved client satisfaction. As a result, you will be able to more accurately identify the key strengths (and weaknesses) of your employees and course-correct to utilize those strengths or address the gaps.
#3 Learning is Larger than Certifications and Professional Licenses
Many of the industries we serve have very credentialed workforces, so tracking and maintaining the certifications, licenses, and even security clearances needed can be a handful. Regardless of tenure, career path, or level within your business, your employees need so much more than certification tracking.
Leverage learning plans throughout the employee life cycle to address gaps, and to prepare employees for stretch projects and growth. As part of employee growth, learning and development plans should also be used to prepare an employee for a lateral transition or promotion.
#4 Fuel Prosperity and Support Organizational Goals
Learning and development plans wrap objectives together to ensure an employee has accomplished a set of variable items, including things like internal learning, external learning, certification, stretch assignments, and shadowing, on-the-job learning, and skill and competency gains.
Managers need to balance corporate goals with an employee’s personal development goals to ensure the company’s success. Once the manager fully understands the employee’s career goals, they can collaboratively create a learning plan that will assist the company in reaching their growth goals, but also includes training and development for the employee to reach their personal goals.
By leveraging learning and development plans, you will gain the competitive edge you need to win the next contract or project by keeping your workforce on the cutting edge of your industry. A focused learning strategy will help your firm to attract even more great talent by cultivating a development culture that helps establish your employer brand in the talent marketplace.