When it comes to learning and development (L&D), there is no such thing as “too much”. Today’s professionals (of all generations) are demanding growth opportunities. Toward this end, companies need to strategically focus on the building and evolution of their L&D programs.
However, these same companies can't be afraid of offering too much L&D, especially out of fear their employees might leave as soon as they've grown. The fact of the matter is: engaged employees equal loyal employees. Engaged employees make great referral sources, culture and brand ambassadors and, above all, top performers who advance your bottom line.
By providing the necessary tools, companies can achieve candidates who are motivated to join your organization, as well as highly engaged and motivated employees that increase innovation, productivity and, for customer-facing roles, overall client satisfaction. As learning and development manager here at WilsonHCG, a role I’ve held for nearly three years, and based on my experience being in L&D for the past 10+ years, I believe there are three mandatory functions L&D must accomplish to achieve successful and retained employees:
- Build and communicate a robust training program
- Build a culture of learning
- Accelerate performance
1. Build and communicate your robust training program.
According to WilsonHCG’s Marisol Hughes, EVP, People Operations & General Counsel, "For organizations focusing on improving their L&D, the key here is to think long term, use L&D programs as a retention tool for top talent, and break away from the idea that we need to limit our people's exposure to skills out of fear they may leave with them. People are demanding more and, to stay competitive, WilsonHCG and all organizations have to offer the opportunity for personal and professional growth!”
A significant component in “thinking long term” and operating outside of angst is building and communicating a robust training program. Organizations (WilsonHCG included) need to focus, first, on the candidate experience and employee onboarding experience; this sets the stage for the mindset new employees have coming into the company, including your training and growth opportunities. As a company, you know successful onboarding and immediate engagement is essential. This can be accomplished by illustrating on the front end the targeted and structured learning programs that will not only grow the employee’s skillset, but enhance their industry knowledge. Further, companies must ensure long-tenured employees have and understand their opportunities to continue growing (e.g., via internal social media sites, webinars, committees, emails and the like).
If you don’t have programs in place, get to work! The research on why is clear. Training is most successful when offered through instructor-led training, web-based training, and on-the-job training. For example, at WilsonHCG, one of our most robust, successful programs is the onboarding “WilsonHCG 90=1 Program”. In fact, this program has played a significant role in WilsonHCG’s Finalist nomination by the Canadian HR Awards for Best Workplace Culture.
In brief, this proprietary 90=1 training, was built from our 15+ years of experience delivering best-in-class recruitment programs and has been purposefully designed to deliver significant training to brand-new hires as part of our onboarding program via classroom, 1:1, virtual mentoring and self-paced sessions.
The 90=1 program, developed by WilsonHCG employees for WilsonHCG employees, includes several modules of training with corresponding weekly assignments designed to instill current, relevant recruitment skills and specialties. Through this, we educate our people so that they understand how best to fully represent and serve as an extension of our clients’ talent acquisition and management needs. Likewise, this training grows our people professionally, laying the formal groundwork for their growth within WilsonHCG while likewise bettering their personal career plans as well. The modules of this program include:
- Strategic Sourcing
- Analytics and Strategic Planning
- Effective Communication
- Hiring Manager Relationship Management
- Candidate Relationship Management.
- Among several others
Of note, 97 percent of recruiters who successfully completed 90=1 are still with WilsonHCG, while 15 WilsonHCG clients have expressed being “positively impacted” by the program over the past year alone.
2. Build a culture of learning.
Also according to Marisol Hughes, “The world is getting smaller and as a result, L&D structure has had to evolve. [Throughout the talent industry,] I am encouraged by the number of platforms available that are a mix of technology and in-person solutions. Here at WilsonHCG, we rely on our learning management system (LMS) to offer quick, on-demand training to our global employees inclusive of all time zones and languages. It has been a tremendous asset in our ability to recruit and retain top talent, both internally and on our clients’ behalves all over the world.”
Organizations can increase employee engagement by creating committees, offering social learning, through use of a streamlined LMS, as well as incentive programs. Based on my years of experience in L&D, I have found some of the most significant channels to instilling a continuous “culture of learning” is the use of learning technologies like an LMS, Workplace by Facebook (also as a tool to communicate training programs in line with No. 1 above), blog posts, wikis and TED Talks sessions used to supplement formal internal trainings. These technologies can make learning an everyday “lifestyle” throughout the workplace and allows employees to collaborate and share best practices. Here at WilsonHCG, we have employee-led committees (many led through the aforementioned Workplace by Facebook) that help foster engagement and strengthen our organizational capabilities as well as communication, which likewise allows us to draw insight from a number of different departments and individuals.
Lastly, incentive programs are where you gain the biggest reward! If you offer a channel for employees to voice their ideas, then incentivize contributions, this unleashes innovation and creativity in a way that fosters employee engagement while also showing your workforce that their personal and professional well being matters. Once they see their thoughts matter and that the company supports them, your return on investment (in both engagement and the bottom line) increases tenfold.
3. Accelerate performance!
(e.g., peer mentorship programs, individual performance plans, and 9-box succession planning)
Finally, according to Marisol Hughes, “For HR and L&D leaders considering implementing new L&D programs, I encourage you to take a step back and consider how the program adds value – not only to the department’s strategies and goals, but to your culture, employment brand, people and overall company mission.” Companies can accelerate the performance of their L&D, and achieve growth in each of the aforementioned areas noted by Ms. Hughes by offering mentors to help employees grow and enhance in their current field or even learn and develop in others.
This goes back to how and why “too much” training is never enough. Mentorship stops the employee from becoming complacent and inspires continued growth by offering an opportunity to either cross train or elevate themselves somewhere. At WilsonHCG, we have regularly scheduled individual performance plans, which gives each WilsonHCG-er the opportunity to own their career and decide what they want to do, where they want to go, and how leadership can support them in reaching these heights.
As workforces evolve, as technologies advance, as the ways in which L&D factors into each organization’s ability to create a healthy, thriving talent ecosystem, L&D will continue to play an integral role in each company's ability to attract and retain the most talented professionals. The above offers a brief sample of the efforts here at WilsonHCG, ways in which we seek to give our employees a voice, drive their careers, and make certain we as a company are investing in not only their careers but their personal lives.
Regardless of where you are on your L&D journey, the following offers thought leadership, industry best practices and analysis for any seeking to improve L&D efforts and make certain you keep up with the demands of your workforce.