Few companies would debate the importance of training in the workplace today. However, when they hear the term “employee training,” many people picture new employee onboarding or specific skills training on a new tool or process. These one-off experiences are only a part of the picture, though.
If you want to get senior management to invest in your company’s training strategy, you need to help them see a broader view of employee training. They need to understand that training means offering employees learning and development opportunities that benefit your teams and your bottom line.
To incorporate formal training programs into your organization, you need to know how to convince leadership that you need it. And you have to be able to provide then a structured, well-planned program that becomes part of your company culture and strategy.
We’re going to discuss how to build out a comprehensive and successful learning and development program. But first, let’s take a deeper dive into why you (and your organization) should invest in one.
Making a case for the importance of training
If you want to build a case for training, you’ve got to be able to answer the question, “Why is training employees important?” Luckily, that’s not hard.
The overall benefits of training and development are no secret. Quality L&D ensures your organization meets compliance standards and helps you build a skilled workforce. But there are also reasons to invest in a structured program, customized for your employees:
- Savings in time and money. When you plan ahead and have consistent training in place, you’ll save time and money. Building a course from scratch every time you want to provide an opportunity for development will take resources away from other critical functions (not to mention a hefty budget). When you make strategic decisions about what to include, you’ll anticipate needs. And you’ll be able to optimize with courses relevant to the greatest number of employees.
- More inclusive employee development. With remote and hybrid work models in many companies, it can be hard to ensure everyone has equal access to career development. When you plan in advance, you can create programs that offer a consistent experience to everyone, regardless of location.
- Greater employee satisfaction and retention. Employees want opportunities to advance in their careers. They also want to know their contributions are valued. When you offer comprehensive training, it shows that you’re planning not only for your company’s future, but for your employees’ as well.
Research by TalentLMS and SHRM shows that when employees have access to career development opportunities and training, they’re more satisfied on the job. The same study also found that 76% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with a company that offers training.
In today’s competitive market, it makes sense to build out a program that supports employee needs. A well-thought-out L&D strategy shows you’re prepared to support your people in their goals. It’s also a benefit that many job hunters consider crucial these days. So, where do you start?
How to build a structured L&D program
To build out a helpful, expansive training strategy, you’ll need to answer a few key questions to ensure you’re building an effective program. And to show key stakeholders that you’re up to tackling the challenges of creating a successful L&D program.
1. What tools will we need?
Consider the types of training you’ll offer and what formats are best. Most likely, you’ll be looking beyond traditional classrooms with everyone attending a course in person. Constraints of busy work schedules and different working locations make this format less feasible for many companies.
Whether you’re considering self-paced online training or a hybrid approach, you’ll want to invest in an LMS that can meet all your needs. As you plan, make a list of features you want. For instance:
- Do you need something that can support hundreds or even thousands of users?
- Will you need mobile app capabilities for microlearning?
- Do you want to automate tracking, letting employees know when they’ve got training coming up, and reminding them of unfinished courses?
- Do you want a platform that can recognize individual users and help create custom training paths for different roles and employees?
Be clear on your criteria up front so you can find the tools and technology that will support your training goals.
2. Who should be involved with the development?
If you want stakeholders to support your vision, make sure you have all the right people involved in the planning phase.
For instance, work with managers and leaders to learn about upskilling or reskilling needs. Talk to those at the forefront of planning business goals to ensure your training courses align with the company’s overall direction. Include HR and other leadership concerned with compliance to guarantee you cover any training required by law or policy.
When you have the right people involved in the planning stage, you’ll create learning paths that support your company objectives.
3. Should you come up with training policies?
How structured does your training strategy need to be? Are you simply providing learning opportunities for interested employees? Or are you fulfilling requirements that have legal or safety implications?
Depending on your training objectives, you may want to create specific policies. You’ll also need communication channels to let employees know what’s required of them and when. Formal policies can also help leadership. When they know what to expect, they can hold employees accountable for training goals.
4. How will you provide content?
Depending on your needs, you may be either designing custom training from scratch or buying off-the-shelf courses.
If your training is very company-specific, you’ll want to invest in the in-house resources to build and upload or facilitate custom content. For more general courses (things like sales or customer service skills or general leadership principles), it may make more sense to buy ready-made content.
There are a lot of courses out there built by experts, so you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. An added bonus is that these types of courses can be plug-and-play—ready to roll out right away.
5. How will you measure the effectiveness of your training programs?
The best way to convince stakeholders that they’ve made a sound investment is to give them data that proves the training is successful. Plan up front to gather and analyze data that shows employees are engaging with, retaining, and applying the things they learn in training. Go a step further to show that all that learning is impacting company goals positively.
To get the data you need, have a plan in place for gathering metrics and generating reports. This can include using your LMS’s reporting features to compile information on how employees are engaging with and retaining the content. It may also mean getting reports from different departments on performance and numbers.
For instance, if one of your goals is to improve customer relations, you’ll want data on how employees fared in your customer service training. You’ll also want to pull data from periodic customer satisfaction surveys to see if the training is having the desired impact.
Measuring your impact helps you figure out whether your program is on the right track, so don’t neglect this crucial follow-up step.
Prepare your company to capitalize on the benefits of training
If you want to convince your company that your L&D strategy is worth the time and money you’re asking for, you’ll need a comprehensive program in place. You must be able to help people see beyond training as a one-off solution for new hires and urgent upskilling needs.
Show your organization that you’ve got a plan for taking employee training to the next level. When you’ve got their confidence, you’ll have the freedom to build a dynamic program that will support a growing company well into the future.