The global workforce has evolved over the last decade in response to an increasingly competitive professional landscape and the digital revolution of the workplace.
But somewhat surprisingly, this move to a more digitized workplace has served to only highlight the importance of the human element of the workforce. In fact, research suggests that a very significant percentage of market capitalization is based on intangible assets – skilled employees, exceptional leadership, and knowledge.
One of L&D’s primary responsibilities is to manage the development of people – and to do so in a way that supports other key business priorities. And according to a study, there are five primary, strategic L&D roles:
1. Attract & Retain Talent. Now in charge of their personal and professional growth and development, employees now often cite ‘opportunities for learning and development’ among the top criteria for joining an organization – and a lack thereof as a reason they leave.
2. Develop Human Capital. Research indicates that companies in the top 25 percent of leadership outperform other organizations by nearly two times on earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization and are more than twice as likely to hit their performance targets.
3. Culture & Community As workforces become increasingly virtual and global, L&D can help build culture and community while embracing corporate social responsibility. In fact, millennials, are more likely to research those issues to which a company offers supports and contributes more than any other generation.
4. Build Brand. L&D can enhance a brand and boost its reputation on coveted ‘best places to work’ lists. So as large segments of the workforce prepare to retire, companies must be able to effectively communicate their brand and value proposition in order to compete for a reduced talent pool.
5. Motivate & Engage. Research suggests that lifelong learning contributes to happiness so when employees are challenged and given the opportunity to grow and develop within their chosen career path, they are more likely to be engaged, motivated and yes, even happy.
While most organizations have leadership development programs, according to Harvard Business Publishing research, only 7 percent describe their programs as ‘best in class.’ And despite spending approximately $164.2 billion dollars on learning and development programs, many companies still struggle with how to improve and enhance their effectiveness.
A world-class L&D program must equip its employees with specific skills, tools and experiences so with that in mind, here are five key components for a comprehensive L&D program.
1. Inspired Leadership. According to a survey, 25 percent of employees say they don’t trust their employer, and only about 50 percent believe their employer is honest with them. Employees demand transparency and honesty from their leaders so inspired leaders can help (re-)build trust in organizational leadership.
2. Empower Employees. Encourage individualized, self-directed learning and development from your employees. Provide them the tools, technologies and resources to guide their own career path and development to inspire and engage a workforce that knows you stand behind them and support their independence.
3. Be Adaptive & Responsive. Where once what an employee learned had a years-long shelf life, now, knowledge and skills can be rendered obsolete in months. So organizations must reimagine their learning and development from a static program to a living, breathing thing.
4. Be Accommodating. Companies must adopt on-demand and mobile solutions to make learning opportunities more readily accessible as workloads and lifestyles make one-size, one-time-only programs unrealistic. And don’t forget to consider the L&D needs of your virtual workforce which may require some modification when it comes to mentoring and coaching.
5. Offer Variety. Much like offering flexibility for where and when employees train, there is no one-size-fits-all learning style for them, either. When you consider that any given organization may employ up to five different generations, it becomes all the more critical to offer variety to accommodate their different learning styles.
An increasingly competitive and complex professional landscape, compounded by a multigenerational workforce, and a shorter shelf life for knowledge, have placed a premium squarely on reskilling and upskilling in today’s workforce.
So organizations must recognize the value of their learning and development programs – both to their employees and bottom line – by modifying their learning and development programs to cater to emerging trends and needs. Only then can they better position their employees with the right L&D solutions that drive results, and increase employee engagement, innovation and productivity.