Learning and Development: What You Need To Know
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Guidelines For Designing Your Digital Learning (What You Need To Know About L&D)

Organizational learning refers to the process of creating, retaining, and transferring knowledge within an organization. There is no doubt that the workforce of today is extremely different from their counterparts a few decades ago. According to research by Gallup, 87% of millennials value in-house development opportunities and growth as important to their career graph. This feeling is not restricted to the corporate world. Not very long ago, a long-term research project commissioned by the Middlesex University for work-based learning found that from a 4,300-strong sample of workers, 74% felt that they were not achieving their full potential at work due to a dearth of development opportunities.

In these uncertain times, it is not unusual for employees to fret about the possibility of being laid off. This anxiety gets compounded with the fear of becoming obsolete. Therefore today’s employees are quite in favor of their companies organizing Learning and Development (L&D) programs, which include training, mentoring, and coaching opportunities. And from an organizational perspective, L&D is gaining importance as a vital component in fulfilling the company’s long-term strategic goals. 57% of L&D pros expect to spend more on online learning, and over a third expect to increase their online budget.

So far, so good. But questions remain:

  • As of now, do companies provide sufficient training to be able to meet those goals?
  • Where are the efforts being concentrated?
  • Do executives in variously-sized companies actively support L&D efforts?
  • What are the latest facts and figures on the state of corporate L&D?
  • How effective is it?
  • How many companies actually measure the engagement rates and map out desired outcomes of their L&D programs?
  • How much do employees learn and apply their newfound knowledge on the job?

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners."
– John Holt.

Some Facts And Figures

LinkedIn’s fourth annual survey involving 1,675 L&D professionals, 2,000 learners, and 2,932 managers across 18 countries has been very telling. In 2016, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that companies with fewer than 100 employees provided only 12 minutes of manager training every six months. Besides, organizations with 100–500 employees provided only 6 minutes. In the supremely unpredictable year that is 2020, fraught with rapid technology change and heightened dependence on technology, L&D is increasingly focused on building new tech skills to prepare for the post-COVID work era. Upskilling, or learning new skills within the same job function, as well as reskilling, are high on the agenda of L&D pros.

According to the LinkedIn survey, executives support employee learning programs, but list “championship as the next opportunity to drive engagement.”

Also,

  • 83% of L&D pros say their executives support employee learning and believe it to be an effective business enabler.
  • Only 27% of L&D pros say their CEOs are actual active champions of learning.
  • And only 38% of managers believe that their learning programs meet their learner’s needs.

Measuring Engagement

"What we learn with pleasure we never forget." – Alfred Mercier

Employee engagement, always a challenge, has reached even higher levels of difficulty in 2020, which sets the bar for L&D as an engagement tool rather high. Previous research has shown that as many as 1 in 3 employees quit the organization before completing a year, either voluntarily or involuntarily. The cost of losing an employee in the first year can be up to three times their salary worth. US businesses annually lose a whopping $11 billion to staff turnover. Even 20% of disengaged employees lead to enormous productivity losses.

The takeaway here is that boosting retention rates (for which Learning and Development programs are crucial) is critical for businesses to succeed. However, LinkedIn’s survey suggests that a gold standard for measuring learner engagement is largely unestablished. In fact, in some countries, it is not even a high priority in L&D activities, although in the US it does top the priority list.

L&D goals for some other countries include:

  • Canada: Evaluating the impact of learning
  • The UK: Identifying, tracking, and closing skills gaps
  • Germany, India, and Australia: Enabling self-directed learning with online learning solutions

24% of L&D pros don’t currently measure learning engagement. Where it is measured, course completions happen to be the most basic way of sizing up an engaged learner.

There are other parameters to be quantified too, though, in newer ways:

  • Learner satisfaction surveys
  • Minutes of learning per month
  • Number of repeat visits

According to Lou Tedrick, VP of Global Learning and Development at Verizon, understanding the business goals and the problem L&D hopes to solve is important to effectively measure the impact of that learning exercise.

Characteristics Of An Effective L&D Partner And Their Influence On The Bottom Line

A good L&D partner understands the importance of customized learning material: weaving relevant, industry-specific case studies and real-life examples into quality learning content. Uninspiring content is a pretty effective barrier to actual learning. They must have metrics for measuring the quality of their L&D programs and sizing it up against engagement and completion rates. Evaluating impact gets trickier with time, given the rise of digital content. But a good L&D partner must be able to dive into data analytics from these new learning systems to assess what is working and what is not.

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