08 Nov A Guide to Creating Effective Learning and Development (L&D) Plans for Employees
In today’s working world all employees both need and expect learning and development to be part of their employment terms. Companies similarly seek to ensure that all of their employees are developing and staying abreast of everything that is happening in their industry and their individual business. Indeed, to remain competitive in the fast-changing business world, learning and development are not options, but vital to the fortunes of any forward-looking business and equally a very significant factor in employee recruitment and retention.
All businesses need a plan to ensure that L&D is deeply integrated into the culture of the company, meets the ever-changing needs of the industry and individual company, and appropriately serves the company’s particular profile of human resources. This guide sets out the key elements, an overview of the questions to ask and the guidelines to consider when creating an effective learning and development plan. It provides you with the right issues to consider in four particular but interconnected areas as you design your own plan.
Culture and strategy
Begin by assessing your objectives. Setting up an L&D plan is strategic and should reflect your culture, your competitive stance and your projected future. Ensure that the goals you have for the plan match and support the development that is envisaged for the months and, if possible, the years to come. Consider the marketplace, feed the succession pipeline and know where you are going.
Across the business, leading from the top, establish a positive culture of learning. Make it an expectation and seek out ways to ‘reward’ development and make it a company ‘buzz factor’.
Seek to be clear from the outset that responsibility for learning and development lies with each employee, as much as it does with the HR department. This couples well with a developed sense of apprenticeship where all colleagues contribute to learning, disseminate good practice and value the contributions of the many ‘experts’ that make up your staff team.
Goals and a learner plan
Who decides on the goals and direction individual learners take? You need to establish this in your plan. Ideally, as much of the direction as possible should come from the employee, but clearly, those overseeing the L&D plan need also to have an input. How will you structure the ongoing appraisal and performance management work so that the focus for each individual is on a continual process of identifying their own needs and addressing these through a blended range of learning?
Establishing an L&D plan is intricately tied to the employee – line-manager – mentor relationships that your company culture develops. How can you create a real ongoing conversation of successes and learning opportunities that can feed into the learning programme you establish?
Resources and systems
There are a large number of Learning Management Systems (LMS) on the market. Many are good, but none of them should become the focus of your plan. They are a resource that your plan employs, where relevant, to serve YOUR needs.
For smaller companies in particular, it can be more economical and practical to out-source some or all of the L&D provision. This is always a matter for each business to assess themselves, however it is useful to make two points here: It does not need to be a ‘one-or-the-other’ decision. There is great scope for variation here, and this is where your strategic business plan needs to lead – not follow – any LMS you adopt. Secondly, you need to retain control of the learning and development. If you outsource, don’t lose your grip of the important aspects of strategy, content quality and flexibility.
Learning activities and materials should be:
– engaging, bite-sized and as interactive as possible
– responsive to needs and updated promptly, ensuring that change and innovation are enacted efficiently across the organisation
– collaborative, using feedback and response to foster connection and peer-to-peer learning
– created with a space for frequent self-reflection and evaluation
– measured and structured to be clear in what will be learned, how it will be learned, by when and how the learning will be validated.
Flexibility and design
The structure needs to meet the needs of a range of roles, a variety of working practices and be adaptable. A greater number of employees may now be working remotely, or have moved into a more hybrid home and office model. Perhaps your colleagues are working in part-time, flexi-time and non-linear working day arrangements. This has considerable implications for the design of materials and access to learning programmes. Some of the learning and development can be delivered in physical locations (depending on the spread of your personnel), in a more traditional manner through courses, seminars, etc. However, much more of the programme will now need to be asynchronous, to be accessed by employees wherever they are and when they decide to ‘learn’. This almost certainly entails user-friendly mobile learning models.
Learners are individuals, meaning that a wide-ranging menu of approaches is needed, if individual needs are to be met. Add in traditional trainings, workshops, gamification, virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Be as creative and varied as you are able. In many ways, you are seeking to create an immersive user experience, where there is the illusion (even if not the reality) of physically interacting with a realistic environment.
The 70/20/10 rule is a valuable guide point for learning plans. 70% of learning typically comes from on-the-job experience, 20% from other people and 10% from coursework and training. How many learning opportunities can be found in the working day? There are multiple ‘experts’ in your business who could be passing on skills and knowledge; a ‘course’ is very often not necessary.
Keep your eye on the strategic direction of your business, and at the same time give plenty of consideration to the individual needs and approaches to learning of your personnel. In this way you will build something that serves your business and is a springboard for fantastic growth and development.
The EIMF team can offer advice and support in achieving an effective L&D Plan to ensure that teams attain the vital mindset, skills and knowledge they need to be effective in their roles and contribute to the success of their organisations.
Our expertise in working over many years with organisations – their Directors, HR Professionals, Line Managers and Front-Line employees, coupled with vast knowledge in the field of learning, provides insights and knowledge that will help you!
Whether you merely need a chat and some advice or looking to plan for face-to face, live-online, eleanring or other initiatives for your teams, give us a call!