An internal learning and development platform can help a company prepare for a prosperous future, increase employee skill sets, motivate team members, groom future leaders and help sustain values and culture. In fact, the fast growing millennial workforce rates excellent training programs as a top factor when considering an employer, according to a PwC report. The net net: without a training program, companies run the risk of slowing employee development, or worse, missing out on top talent.
Below are seven tips every business should consider when building its own learning and development program.
1. Get backing from senior leadership. Commitment to the learning investment is crucial for driving the program. Make sure your leaders understand that an early investment in people development will allow scalability of the business. Also, that this is an opportunity for them to become role models of continuous learning and champions of this initiative.
2. Designate an advisory council to establish a vision and plan. Training platforms are successful when team members throughout the company are willing to put the time in to establish a mission for the initiative. An advisory council of internal subject matter experts and cross-functional department representatives should take ownership of making recommendations to senior leadership about the overall vision of the learning platform, and guide development.
3. Inventory your learning content. Thousands of pieces of learning material are developed throughout the startup years. Deciphering which pieces can support your mission and vision might be a painstaking process, but it’s necessary. Get a good grasp on what you have before thinking about what additional content should be developed.
4. Give yourself some time to plan. After a company understands what it has at its disposal, it’s time to figure out next steps in leveraging the content. This piece takes time. Will onboarding be involved? Will learners have a suite of trainings to choose from? Think about what you want the program to look like in the future and set milestones.
5. Find the shared value between overall business and individual learning needs. What does the business need team members to know? What do team members need to grow in their careers? Refer back to your business goals and ask your learners where they want to go in their careers to shape a successful learning curriculum. Provide industry trainings to help employees understand the market as well as learning opportunities specific to their role within the company.
6. Select learning solutions that work for your team. Good corporate learning management systems make knowledge accessible and organized, and significantly impact your program’s success. Look at what systems you have, and figure out how they could work for you. There could be an opportunity to leverage existing investments to cut costs.
7. Keep the content evergreen. Establish learning coordinators who can work with each department to update content and keep the course material fresh. Learning coordinators should be closely tied to each department to maintain knowledge and designate an iterative approach to updating content.
The creation of the program is just the beginning, and there are many ways to evolve a learning program to meet an organization’s needs over time. For example, you could offer customized courses for team members in specific departments or at a certain level; include courses to better educate your team members on your industry or product(s), so employees are always up to speed; or leverage the program to assist in HR initiatives like management training or onboarding new team members.
As more and more companies place an emphasis on corporate culture and employee engagement, a learning and development program is quickly becoming a “must have.” While it might feel like a heavy lift at first, the benefits will pay off in dividends.
Dorie Blesoff is chief people officer at Chicago-based kCura, an e-discovery software developer. In her role, Dorie works closely with the human resources department to help create a stronger platform for recruiting team members and growing their skills, while also continuing to make kCura a great place to work. Dorie has helped to implement various development initiatives across the company, including the company’s internal education platform, kCura U.