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Your employees already have so much on their plates. There’s no time for them — or you — to be worrying about learning and development, right?

Wrong.

Companies with strong learning and development programs gain significant advantages over their competitors on many levels. For example, the companies that invest most heavily in employee training see 24 percent higher profit margins. Furthermore, 91 percent of high performers report that access to development opportunities is a key factor in their decision to stay with their current company.

Initiatives like individual goal-setting, internal colleague presentations, stretch roles, and training courses improve employee collaboration, help recruit talent, strengthen leaders, and boost morale. Employees at all levels of the company benefit, as does the company itself.

Want to build a learning and development program that drives similar results for your business? Keep these three keys in mind:

1. Get Buy-In From Leadership

Support from the executive team will spur greater employee engagement in learning and development initiatives. Top-level buy-in cements the program as an agency standard, creating confidence in its value as a measurement of success among employees.

You may only get one shot to sell executives on your learning and development program, so make sure you’re prepared. Have ready the answers to questions you are likely to be asked, including:

- Who will spearhead the team?
- What budget implications will the program have?
- How will the success of the program be measured?

If you can demonstrate the value your development program will create for employees and the company as a whole, organizational leaders will be much more likely to lend their support.

2. Meet Learners Where They Are

Once a learning and development system is in place, the HR team should launch an internal promotion strategy to increase visibility. This can include tapping internal influencers to champion learning and development efforts, sending regular email updates, and providing incentives for participation.

Your employees will have various learning styles, and your training resources should take this fact into account. Try presenting material in a variety 0f formats to appeal to a broad range of learning styles — for example, online trainings for individual learners, audio presentations for auditory learners, and group presentations for social learners. Training facilitators should also be sure to mix sensory elements into their presentations to ensure employees stay engaged. For example, a live presentation should include photos and videos, and auditory instructions should be spelled out to appeal to more visual learners.

Your employees will likely be interested in a variety of different subjects. The learning and development team can offer a range of internal material, but it’s also important to connect your employees with external resources — like conferences, industry experts, online courses, and reading materials — for when on-site subject matter expertise doesn’t suffice.

3. Offer Timely Learning Opportunities

Timely training delivers an immediate return on investment for employees, especially when the skill being developed aligns with a current business objective. For instance, if a company is expanding to include an office in a new city, it could be a good time to offer trainings on how to collaborate successfully with remote teams. Another way to ensure your learning opportunities are timely is to reach out to managers for feedback on how their teams could improve, and then tailor upcoming learning sessions accordingly.

The benefits of a strong learning and development program outweigh the costs and help all employees, regardless of seniority. By offering employees regular, ongoing training opportunities, your company can demonstrate that it cares about its staff members’ professional development. In exchange, employees will feel a stronger sense of purpose and growth, which is critical to job satisfaction.

If you want your company to stay competitive in both the business and talent markets, it’s important to start investing in learning and development programs today.

Nausheen Farishta is manager of learning and development at Walker Sands.



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