It’s well-documented that businesses with highly engaged workforces have a measurable competitive advantage, including higher profit margin and greater shareholder return. However, only 15% of employees worldwide report feeling fully engaged.
A culture of learning is an essential factor in driving employee engagement – and it’s good for business. According to research by the Brandon Hall Group, 91% of companies that have invested in learning technology report a stronger link between learning and organizational performance. Modern learning companies have a strategic advantage in attracting, retaining and developing talent in the skills race of today’s workforce.
Employee development programs signal an investment in employees’ success – and employees will stay at organizations where they feel there is great potential to learn. From a career standpoint and with the rules of work rapidly changing, constant learning leads to continued relevance – a win for both the employee and the business. In fact, companies with strong learning cultures are 92% more likely to innovate.
Yet, most companies don’t have a learning culture embedded throughout the organization. Many companies treat learning as separate from the employee lifecycle, and beyond onboarding, offer few and irregular opportunities for learning day-to-day. Other companies embrace learning opportunities, but treat them as distinct parts of the employee experience, offering them out of context from the employees’ workday.
Our belief is that the best organizations make learning an integral part of the employee lifecycle – that is, they offer a continuous experience starting on day one. To us, learning is the hub at the center of the employee experience, connecting to activities, such as onboarding, daily work or career pathing, while also supporting critical compliance.
In today’s increasingly digital workplace, the modern learner is self-directed, empowered, and wants to be able to access information customized to fit their needs, whenever they want – and learning should be seamlessly integrated in the journey, facilitated by a technology platform and its tools.
Here are some ways to embed learning into every step of the employee lifecycle:
The cost of losing an employee in the first year can cost upwards of 30% of that person’s salary. Robust and well-rounded onboarding programs can be a solid tactic for retention. Link courses and plans to onboarding requirements for new hires. This could range from cultural training (are your new hires clear on business goals and company values?) to job-based training.
Use the onboarding platform to assign coaches, mentors or buddies on the employee’s first day, or introduce them to subject matter experts in their department or specialty area. Providing learning opportunities at the outset establishes engagement and purpose in the employee’s crucial first days.
Establishing a culture of continuous learning happens when employees see opportunities alongside their daily work tasks. Embed course dates and deadlines in employee calendars to regularly present opportunities for learning in the day-to-day, or consider context-based training: for example, when an employee clocks in to begin their shift, present them with learning content that will help them be more effective on that day.
Research shows that leaders in learning mode develop stronger leadership skills than their peers. Learning platforms can make the performance management and career pathing processes more efficient and transparent.
For example, employee performance plans can be tracked easily by monitoring completion of various courses or training that drive those plans. Managers, when it’s time for performance reviews, can access manager toolkits to learn how to effectively coach their employees based on different scenarios, and provide both formal and informal feedback.
From a career pathing standpoint, learning and career development are inseparable. Employees must see how courses align with career objectives; and managers require visibility into employees’ readiness for promotions based on both predictive analytics and their learning accomplishments. Link courses and training to performance management plans, and enable your managers to recommend course materials to help employees achieve a goal.
Embedded learning provides ongoing and intrinsic motivation for employees. It also encourages knowledge-sharing and collaboration amongst employees, while promoting an environment of development from within.
All of this ladders back up to creating value for the business, and strengthening company culture. As noted by Blair Sheppard, Global Leader of Strategy and Leadership Development PwC’s Workforce of the Future report, “We should remember that intellectual complacency is not our friend and that learning – not just new things but new ways of thinking – is life-long endeavor.”