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Learning and development

Learning and development

Table of Contents

In an era colossal change, the role of Learning and Development (L&D) has transfomed. Learning is now leading the way in most organizations, and L&D teams are at the helm. 

Don’t just take our word for it. 

According to the 2022 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, 72% of L&D Leaders agree L&D has become a more strategic function at their organization

But why? What can an L&D strategy do for your company?

That’s exactly what we’ll be talking about in this guide. 

L&D isn’t just about teaching new skills to your workforce. It can help you achieve business goals, drive employee engagement and boost professional development. 

We’re breaking down:

  • What L&D is
  • Why an L&D strategy is so important
  • The most common types of L&D programs
  • Four best practices for L&D professionals

Now, time to dive right in!

What is Learning and Development (L&D)?

L&D is the function within an organization responsible for enhancing the skills, knowledge, and competencies of employees. 

It’s usually, but not always, organized by the Human Resources department. 

L&D initiatives have the goal of empowering the growth of employees and changing their behavior through learning. The idea is to share knowledge and insights that will enable staff to do their work better. 

According to Deloitte, L&D was the number one human capital trend in 2019. About 86% of the respondents in the survey said that improving their L&D strategy is an important or very important issue.

A company’s L&D strategy covers all aspects of learning within the organization, including onboarding, training programs, mentoring, and other learning activities. 

While the main objective is to make sure employees have all the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) to perform their job properly, the benefits go beyond simple upskilling or on-the-job training. 

Next up, the benefits of L&D.


Why do L&D programs matter?

As we mentioned before, the benefits of L&D go far beyond just giving your employees the KSAs to perform their jobs.

An impactful L&D strategy can help you retain your top talent, reduce turnover costs, scale growth, and increase customer satisfaction. 

More and more organizations are realizing how important this is. Let’s refer back to LinkedIn’s 2022 workplace learning report. 74% of L&D professionals agree that L&D has become more cross-functional.

This underpins how crucial L&D has become to allow companies to navigate strong trends such as the Great Reshuffling, digital transformation, and the rise of the millennial workforce.


#1: Retain top talent

Once upon a time, an employee would get a job at a company and stay there until they retired. 

But that time has long passed.

Today, employees leave companies all the time, often in search of better professional development opportunities. This is especially true with millennials. A Gallup poll has revealed that 59% of millennials will only apply for a role if the employer provides growth and learning opportunities. 

Furthermore, according to the consultancy house, PwC millennials consider career development opportunities more important than remuneration. 

Your talent management strategy needs to adapt to this reality. 

The stats speak for themselves—top talent wants their employers to empower them for continuous learning and growth. 

If you don’t provide these opportunities, they will leave.


#2: Reduce turnover costs

It’s not just top talent that you have to worry about. 

Given all the data above, even your employees without much seniority might choose to leave if another company offers better learning opportunities. 

Employee turnover is bad for any company. When an employee leaves soon after they have started, you lose all the money you invested in recruiting, onboarding, and training programs. 

And we’re not talking about small change here. According to Gallup, U.S. companies lose around a trillion dollars every year due to voluntary turnover.  

How do you prevent this and boost your employee retention?

L&D is one way. 

In 2019, LinkedIn’s workplace learning report discovered that 94% of employees said they would stay in a company that invests in L&D. 

For this reason alone, L&D needs to become an integral part of your business strategy. 


#3: Scale growth

We spoke about how L&D can drive employee engagement and help you retain staff. Does this have implications for your actual business performance?

It does. 

Engaged employees that feel like their organizations take their career development into account are more productive employees. Companies with high engagement report a 22% increase in productivity

Since we know that L&D boosts engagement, it’s clear that employee development has an impact on employee performance.

Plus, when you invest in talent development, the KSAs your employees acquire give your organization a competitive advantage. This is especially true for SMEs who might not have the same recruitment budgets as large organizations. 

L&D is also an indispensable tool for helping you with change and transition, no matter what it is—from a pivot to new business goals.


#4: Increase customer satisfaction

L&D programs give your employees the skills they need to serve your customers better. Through an L&D strategy, you can address any skill gaps relating to the customer service process. 

When companies invest in L&D, they often improve their customer satisfaction KPIs

While you should train your employees to serve customers better, you can also use L&D on the customers themselves in the form of product training. 

This training content can take the form of webinars, online tutorials, e-learning courses, etc.

Up next, we go over the seven most common types of L&D programs. 


Seven common types of L&D programs

L&D can take many forms in an organization. How your organization approaches L&D will depend on your goals, budget, and business structure. 

No matter which approach you take, you’ll need a Learning Management System (LMS) to centralize your training activities. 

Top LMSs, such as Docebo, allow L&D teams to create, manage, and track training content.  

Here are the seven most common types of learning development programs. 


#1: Orientation programs

Employee orientation is typically a one-time event that introduces new hires to their coworkers, the organization, and its leadership. 

This process is usually led by HR professionals and company leaders who give presentations and inform the new employees about various policies. 

Good orientation programs also try to give new hires a sense of company culture and philosophy. 

The goal is to assimilate the new employees into the company and get them ready to hit the ground running when they start their jobs.

An effective orientation program can set the right tone from the start and reduce any friction from the employees having to acclimatize to their new environment. 

While orientation is most often done in person, it can also be carried out virtually. This is especially common in remote companies. 

Most of the top LMSs integrate with video conferencing tools, allowing HR teams to carry out virtual orientation sessions directly within the LMS. They can be combined with digital training materials for a comprehensive online orientation program. 


Type #2: Onboarding 

Onboarding is one of the most important learning processes in any organization. 

During the onboarding process, new team members learn about the expectations of their role, which KPIs are relevant to their position, and more. 

Most importantly, onboarding should give the new hire all the information and KSAs they need to perform their jobs correctly. 

The rise of remote working has resulted in most organizations moving their onboarding process online. Using an LMS, HR teams and managers can create personalized learning paths for new hires based on their role and seniority level.

For instance, virtual onboarding may consist of a mix of online modules (welcome videos, interactive exercises to get to know the company, etc.) and virtual Zoom settings to meet the team and other relevant stakeholders. 

Shadowing is a popular part of onboarding as it is an opportunity for social learning when team members learn by observing a more experienced colleague. 

The important thing to remember is that onboarding needs to be strategic. It’s a chance to get things right the first time and give new hires everything they need to succeed in their roles. 

As such, good onboarding can drive engagement and reduce turnover.


#3: Soft skills development

Soft skills, also known as people skills, refer to the skill set around interpersonal interactions with others 

Often, soft skills are only thought of in terms of client-facing positions such as salespeople and account managers.

But the truth is that everyone can benefit from soft skills development. 

Soft skills are not just about closing a sale or impressing potential clients. They can also promote teamwork, foster better communication, and increase adaptability. 

Additionally, soft skills are a must for leadership development programs. 

There are various ways to include soft skills development in your L&D strategy. Whether you create your own bespoke soft skills training in-house or buy off-the-shelf, an LMS is the best way to deliver this type of training.

Since most soft skills training isn’t mandatory, using your LMS gamification tools (badges, points, leaderboards, etc.) is a great way to motivate employees to take the training. 

With an LMS, you can create catalogs of soft skills training modules organized by skill, level, or function. Employees can then browse the catalogs and take the courses most relevant to their needs and job role.

Thanks to LMS reporting, your HR and L&D teams can monitor which employees have undertaken soft skills training and what their current competency level is.

No matter how you do it, bettering the interpersonal skills of your team members will pay dividends in increased engagement, better teamwork, and stronger cohesion.


#4: Technical skills development

Technical skills, or hard skills, are the role-specific skills necessary to perform a job. 

Relying on recruitment alone to deliver candidates with proper skill sets is no longer enough. 

This is because of the growing skill gap brought on by rapid technological change and emerging technologies like AI. 

Some alarming stats to consider: 87% of employers are reporting they are having trouble finding qualified talent while 56% of hiring managers anticipate that emerging technologies will exacerbate skill gaps that already exist. 

Investing in technical skill development through processes such as upskilling and reskilling will help close these gaps while at the same giving a competitive edge in the form of a higher-skilled workforce. 

Worryingly, only 34% of employees feel supported by their organizations’ learning strategies. 

This does represent an opportunity for companies willing to enhance their L&D initiatives as it can be a way to attract new talent that is eager to learn but doesn’t currently feel supported in doing so. 

Any company wanting to truly cultivate a growth mindset needs to be able to identify and close skill gaps, and technical skill development is the way to do it.  

The good news is that a lot of technical skills training can be taught through informal learning. For instance, by creating an internal knowledge base within your LMS (complete with tutorial videos, step-by-step guides, etc.) that employees can access at the point of need. 


#5: Company products and services training

We hate to state the obvious, but your salesforce can’t sell a product they don’t understand themselves.

This is why L&D tends to include product and services training in their L&D strategy. 

Product training is a necessary part of the sales process. Your team members need to understand the ins and outs of the product. This way, they can address customer pain points and explain why your product is the best fit. 

A high degree of product knowledge enables consultative selling too. 

Product and services training can be in person or delivered with a blended learning methodology.

Opting to include e-learning has a lot of benefits, including the possibility of offering on-demand online courses that learners can access and retake anytime they feel the need to. 

Product owners can record and share demos and Q&A sessions with all the relevant knowledge employees need.


#6: Health and safety training

Health and safety are not just important but also mandatory. In most jurisdictions, companies have to conform to health and safety regulations. 

Because of this, health and safety are most often a part of compliance training

The content of these training programs is dependent on the department and industry niche. 

As with any compliance training, it’s important to create an audit trail that proves that training was undertaken and completed by employees.

One of the best ways to do this is by using an LMS to deliver and track training content. In the case of an audit or incident, HR teams can pull comprehensive reports to verify that all employees are up-to-date with their mandatory training.

Some LMSs, like Docebo, have built-in certification features that make the entire process streamlined and easy to implement.


#7: Collective training

Human beings are a collective species. We work and live collectively, and we learn collectively too. 

Collective learning is a process that makes communication and collaboration possible in large groups of people.

In the 1970s, the US Army developed collective training, which is all about training the entire organization rather than just individuals. 

This links to the concept of the “total institution” developed by sociologist Erving Goffman which refers to isolated groups such as the army, prisons, monasteries, and asylums. 

But don’t let that put you off. 

Your company isn’t a total institution, but it still has people working together in close proximity every day. 

So some of the knowledge that you need to transmit to your team members is best transferred via group and social learning. 

Luckily, with today’s e-learning platforms, it’s easy to scale online courses to deliver them to as many learners as needed. 

Coming up, we walk you through four L&D best practices every professional needs to know.


Four L&D best practices for success

As the saying goes, “fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” 

I think we can all agree that as L&D becomes a more central and strategic part of organizations, our workloads have become even bigger (to put it lightly).

But before you resign yourself to a future of neverending to-do lists and stakeholder meetings, you may want to keep reading.

There are some ways to prepare for the future of L&D and streamline your workload. We’ve rounded up four of them below.


1. Encourage ongoing feedback

Feedback is a huge part of any learning culture

The first step in your L&D strategy is identifying the things that you need to change, whether it’s the way you’re currently delivering on-the-job training or conducting your onboarding. 

A great way to do this is to solicit feedback from your employees. A survey can help identify the pain points around learning in your organization. If you’re using an LMS, you can create and share these surveys directly on the platform.

What skills do your employees need but don’t have? What knowledge do they think would help them perform their best that the organization doesn’t share with them?

Ongoing feedback can provide answers to these questions. 

Once your L&D strategy is up and running, feedback becomes even more critical. Through learner feedback, you can see which parts of your training programs are working well and which aren’t.


2. Encourage peer-to-peer knowledge sharing

We already mentioned shadowing, which is an easy-to-implement yet powerful way to enable peer-to-peer knowledge sharing. 

Why is this important?

Consider the 70:20:10 principle—it teaches us that 70% of learning actually happens on the job and informally, 20% falls to coaching and mentoring, and only 10% is due to formal training. 

Peer-to-peer knowledge falls into both the informal and the coaching camp. 

By empowering your team members to share knowledge informally, you target the first 90% of how learning happens. 

If you are using an LMS, then make sure you take advantage of features like discussion boards to let learners communicate amongst themselves outside of structured courses. 

For instance, with Docebo, you can create channels that allow employees to share their own training resources (short tutorial videos, step-by-step guides, Ted talks, articles, etc.). Employees can also use the Ask the Expert feature to ask in-company experts questions about a specific process, product, tool, or skill. 

It’s a great way to leverage social learning. 


3. Invest in quality content

According to the forgetting curve theory, we forget most of what we learned right after the training is complete. 

To fight the forgetting curve, engagement is key. If the content is interesting and engaging, there’s a higher probability your employees will remember it. 

From product training to soft skills development to compliance, don’t underestimate the power of quality training materials.

Planning on creating your own bespoke training content? Make sure you enlist the help of an instructional designer to tie in stakeholder knowledge with learning theories and methodologies.

If you’re buying off-the-shelf content from a provider, don’t feel shy about shopping around. 

After all, training only adds value if employees actively engage with it. Otherwise, it’s just a drain on time and resources.


4. Create learning experiences that will feel natural to your audience

Times are changing, and so are learner expectations. 

Long classroom training sessions with no follow-up are a thing of the past. Learners want in-demand learning that they can access from any device, any location, and at any time. 

That’s where an LMS comes in. 

It enables content personalization and more flexibility in how to consume learning content.

Mobile learning can be instrumental as it lets employees use their smartphones to quickly access the company LMS anytime they have a doubt or encounter a bottleneck. 

As the general approach to L&D evolves, there’s now a much greater focus on learning experience design. This is centered on creating natural and engaging experiences for your learners.

In short, the new workforce needs learning experiences that are more mobile, more engaging, more personalized, and less stilted and formal.

It’s now time for a quick recap.


Do you want to make L&D a priority?

Experts, case studies, and employees agree L&D is now one of the most important business functions.

An effective L&D strategy has significant benefits, including better employee retention, scaling growth, and increasing customer satisfaction. 

L&D can also help you drive organizational change

It’s hardly surprising, then, that L&D has become a top priority in most companies. In fact, L&D spending power is at a six-year high, and almost every company in the world is now using an LMS.

Are you an L&D professional looking to stay on top of the latest industry terms, trends, and tools? Head over to our glossary.