From Baby Boomers (1946-1964) to Gen Zs (1995-2012), for the first time ever there are five generations of workers in the workplace. Workers from across generations can contribute a wide range of skills and knowledge to the office. The older generations have spent much of their work lives in a completely different work environment than today’s technologically-first world. They can still recall the jumps in technical expectations as standard office norms transitioned from internet proficiency to mobile competence, and now to a whole new set of remote tools and challenges. So, what can we expect next in terms of learning and development?
The New ABCs of L&D
Learning and development (referred to as L&D for short) consists of formal and informal education and activities designed to foster and bolster workers' capabilities. It’s part of management’s job to provide the building blocks for employees to be educated. Some of the ways you can do this are by implementing training courses, mentorships, and leadership preparation.
Some other building blocks to consider include:
- Development of skills
- Performance and change management
- Personal development
There are many ways that employees can informally participate in learning and development. It could be as simple as having a simple chat over lunch or sharing knowledge and insights about work-related subjects. Even reading informative articles in newspapers or magazines can be considered a small part of learning and development.
Much of this type of exploration relies on an employee's own initiative, but employers can help create opportunities by providing resources such as collaborative workspaces, reading materials, sponsored lunch-and-learn sessions, and interactive webinars.
More formal education involves stated objectives and specified skills to be achieved during the training period, followed by an evaluation. Training can be distinguished from more general professional development, which encompasses the future of the company and the growth of the employee.
An impactful and comprehensive learning and development initiative will not only analyze skill gaps and involve the design of responsive training programs and courses, it’ll also:
- Offer online learning opportunities
- Design programs to prepare employees for career growth and promotions
- Personalize education with mobile learning and other learning management technology, such as a learning management system
- Forge partnerships with other firms and industry experts to educate employees
- Provide opportunities for employees to pair up for learning or shadow a mentor
The best way for managers to gauge the effectiveness of these programs is as always to monitor the programs and measure their impact. This will help to establish the goal, which is nurturing a culture of continuous learning that lets staff learn and grow together.
L&D As a Competitive Advantage
In smaller operations with tighter budget constraints and limited resources, learning and development can deliver even more bang for the buck. Where an HR department doesn’t exist, responsibility for learning and development may fall to the CEO or the operations manager.
However, there are advantages to being compelled to compete against larger firms with bigger budgets, full HR teams, and specialist learning officers. Small, nimble companies make a virtue of necessity by exposing their employees to tasks that may lie slightly outside their comfort zones.
Team members must learn new skills on the fly, and most take satisfaction in rising to the occasion. Learning by doing can be a prime motivator for those working in smaller organizations.
Everyone benefits from learning and development
Your entire organization will benefit from a successful learning and development strategy. Employees will appreciate how their career profiles have been enhanced by knowledge and formal certifications. They’ll also be pleased to increase their opportunities for both internal promotion and future jobs. In fact, rather than viewing learning and development as a distinctive benefit, employees have now grown to regard it as a routine expectation of organizations.
Employers benefit from a more highly trained, educated, and passionate workforce with better employee retention, improved performance, better morale, and higher job satisfaction.
A few other palpable benefits include:
- Increased interest from job candidates
- Boost productivity
- Better relationships and interactions with customers, prospects, and partners
- Uniform basic knowledge across teams
Learning and development can set in motion a virtuous cycle. As employee performance improves, an entire team's output can skyrocket. As the rising tide lifts all boats, the effects of learning and development can be far-reaching.
Paradoxically, by empowering workers in their current roles, companies may discourage them from job hopping and even pique their interest in internal career growth opportunities. For learning and development to be successful though, it’s imperative that both management and employees buy into and embrace the learning and development opportunities and initiatives.
Looking to implement or improve a learning and development strategy for your company? Whether you’ve already got a designated internal team that handles learning and development or are just getting started, our HR Experts can help!