What’s Your Learning and Development Strategy, and Why Does It Matter?

Successful organizations know the value of a good learning and development strategy. Here’s the scoop on the ROI of L&D and more.

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What's Your Learning and Development Strategy, and Why Does It Matter?

Ask any successful company, and chances are they’ll confirm: A good learning and development strategy can be a game changer.

Essentially, learning and development (L&D) supports organizational growth and development by supporting that of individuals and teams. It helps ensure that employees can tackle changes or challenges in their field, industry, or even within the workplace environment. It also contributes to the career development goals of those looking to expand their workforce capabilities and advance. Therefore it’s a pretty critical component to both business development and human-resources management (HRM). Not only can implementing effective learning and development procedures help you run your organization more smoothly. But you’ll also be best prepared to embrace changes, attract and retain top talent, and meet business goals.

The learning and development process has always been key for organizations. So organizations are wise to revisit their learning and development strategies periodically to address their evolving business environment and needs.

What is a learning and development strategy?

Learning strategies used in L&D typically lean into professional development and collaborative learning opportunities.

An L&D strategy outlines how an organization plans to develop employee skills, grow their knowledge, and achieve job-related competencies. Learning strategies used in L&D typically lean into professional development and collaborative learning opportunities. These might include free and tuition-based online learning platforms, establishing mentoring programs, implementing cross-training programs, or scheduling lunch-and-learning sessions. Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to finding ways to establish employee development opportunities.

Making formal training and learning and development opportunities consistently available to employees is beneficial to an organization on many levels. Set your overall business strategy in line with your business objectives. Then create strategy outlines to see what needs can be addressed. The L&D concept is relatively simple. And organizations that invest in such corporate learning strategies, supporting both organizational and employee growth, find it a worthwhile investment.

The benefits of implementing a learning and development strategy

L&D strategies help organizations keep employees up to date and, as a result, more productive and efficient. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, most organizations learned just how important establishing a learning culture really is. Many had to pivot and move to a remote business strategy. Employees were required to use unfamiliar tools and procedures and quickly grasp new concepts just to stay on track. And while in many ways people experienced distancing like never before, employee engagement increased for many who learned together.

Granted, this was unprecedented. But the learning culture associated with change can theoretically apply to any change an organization experiences, any time. Consider the following:

  • Existing technology evolves — rapidly.
  • New tech is introduced.
  • Regulatory changes occur.
  • Other protocols change.

Employee learning grows more important every day. And establishing lifelong learning objectives that benefit your employees also benefits your organization as a whole. The top competitive advantage these initiatives can provide include:

  • Ability to attract and retain top performers.
  • Increased employee engagement.
  • Development of leadership skills and leaders within the company.

All of that can give your organization a competitive advantage through building your organization’s brand and creating a values-based culture. You simultaneously prepare for tomorrow by grooming the next generation of leaders accordingly and addressing future learning and development needs.

Core components of a good learning and development strategy

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for development and learning strategies. Business leaders and HR professionals can create their own in-house L&D programs. And you can accomplish this with a variety of formal and informal learning approaches while keeping your budget in mind.

It’s important to include the necessary components in your plan. These involve identifying your organization’s priorities, engaging employees, and internal stakeholders, and creating an L&D structure with flexibility in mind. And be sure to consider future requirements when developing the plan. Your outline’s short list could look like this:

  • Perform an assessment of current needs and skills.
  • Engage leaders and others in near- and long-term goal-setting and prioritization.
  • Determine who should be developing what skills to meet those business goals.
  • Pursue topic selection, course creation, and scheduling.

Try to gain an understanding of how your staff learns, too, and why their preferred learning methods are so effective. Integrating those preferences, and choosing the correct learning tools and techniques, can help you establish learning activities they’ll actually appreciate. And why not encourage employees to create a digital learning portfolio to track and showcase accomplishments and personal career development?

Plan also for performance management. This often includes monitoring key performance indicators and other metrics you’ve established to determine which strategies are and aren’t succeeding.

Those elements combined will shape a good learning strategy and development practice for your organization and its members to follow. The end result will encourage and support individual and collaborative learning, continuous learning, and the adoption of agile learning strategies. And you’ll all benefit from your ability to develop and maintain stronger connections with and among your employees.

The end goal is to never really reach the end of your learning environment. A better focus is to support your employees’ personal career development and start them on a continuous learning journey.

It’s important to include the necessary components in your plan. These involve identifying your organization’s priorities, engaging employees, and internal stakeholders, and creating an L&D structure with flexibility in mind.

Ready to get started on your learning and development plans?

Organizations must work hard to keep pace, especially in this digital age. As the old adage goes, the one thing consistent in life is change. Investing in learning and development plans is a strategy many business leaders and HR professionals embrace. They know a well-planned development strategy will help them remain competitive while retaining the scalability they need. And now you do, too. Ready, set, go ahead: Be a game changer.

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