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5 Reasons Your Company Needs A Learning & Development Programme

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According to former General Electric CEO Jack Welch, “an organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage”.

The Association For Talent Development seem to agree – they recently surveyed 830 companies and consistently found that organisations with a culture of learning were consistently ranked as the highest performers.

But why is a learning development programme important? Let’s find out…

1.) You’ll find recruitment easier

If you’ve spent any time recruiting candidates, you’ll know how important it is to be seen as a desirable place to work.

For many professions, it’s a “seller’s marketplace”. The best software developers, designers and marketers know they have the pick of the draw. So how do you compete against those looking to hire the best candidates?

You can increase your benefits offering – perhaps you’ve tried perks like free fruit, artisan coffee, pool tables, sleep pods or table tennis championships?

These perks do add to the mix – but a learning and development budget does three things:

  1. It shows you have a real commitment to developing your employees
  2. It’s a tangible benefit with a positive financial impact on the candidate
  3. It attracts the right type of candidate  – i.e. those who wish to develop.

Employee benefits are so important for employee attraction that 69% of employees report that they would choose one job over another if it offered better benefits.

These extras are especially important to the younger generations – with an incredible 94% of millenials stating that nontraditional benefits make employers more attractive.

For maximum impact, we recommend Learnli customers add the following wording to their company’s job advertisements:

“Every employee gets a $300 Learnli learning & development budget to spend on anything that helps them become better at what they do”.

2.) You’ll create a learning culture

Imagine the conversation:

“Have you read that new book on machine learning?”

“No, but send me the link and I’ll buy a copy myself”

It’s amazing how much more learning happens when your company foots the bill.

Books that were previously added to the cart and forgotten about suddenly get ordered. Curious questions become answered. Employees become more knowledgeable and share their findings.

And before you know it, you’ve created a culture of learning.

3.) Your employees become more motivated

Humans are naturally sociable creatures. It’s why solitary confinement is so effective. It’s why we flock to buy the latest branded footwear just because everybody else has.

And crucially, it’s why people who regularly attend conferences and share knowledge with their peers feel more motivated and engaged.

The average disengaged employee costs $40,000 per year. Bearing that in mind, can you afford not to engage your employees?

4.) You’ll boost employee performance

Unless your workforce is entirely low-skilled, introducing additional knowledge to the workforce related to their job can directly influence performance.

The impact of books and courses on performance seems to become more pronounced in highly skilled occupations and in “white collar” roles.

Some professions – such as programming – are advancing so rapidly that not having a learning programme in place can leave you with old techniques and out of date methodology.

5.) You’ll boost employee retention

Employees leave for a multitude of reasons. But according to a recent Gallup poll, the number one reason people leave their job is their boss, at a whopping 50% of the total reasons given.

That’s a lot of departures that could have been prevented with proper training and education. Proving the demand, books like “Help! I’m A Manager”, “The One Minute Manager” and “The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team” are consistently top in Amazon’s most-read business books.

When employees do leave, hiring is expensive. Research suggests the average cost of replacing an employee is around $42,000 (£30,000) – once everything is taken into account. That figure includes startling direct recruitment costs, lost productivity, training and temporary measures before the new hire is in place.

The link between learning and employee retention is simple:

  • By providing books on management, your managers become better managers
  • By providing courses on communication, your company becomes better communicators
  • By letting your team spend money on self improvement, they will become better at what they do

What Is Employee Directed Learning?

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What Is Employee Directed Learning?

Employee-directed learning is a learning model by which employees are responsible for the direction and details of their learning, rather than the traditional “employer directed” learning model.

With employee-directed learning, employees are given the freedom and responsibility to diagnose their own learning needs, and the flexibility to act accordingly.

Employer Directed Learning Vs. Employee Directed Learning – An Example

Imagine you have a training budget of $500 per employee, with an objective of increasing efficiency in their day-to-day roles.

A typical employer-directed learning programme would define (at least):

  • Which employees will receive training
  • Which courses each employee will be attending.
  • Which books, resources and guides each employee should be provided with.
  • When and where employees should attend the courses and training sessions
  • How employees will be measured on their newfound knowledge
  • Any follow-up activities to take place after each part of the programme

A basic self-directed learning programme would simply define:

  • How much budget each employee should receive
  • Any restrictions on how employees can spend their budget

The difference in approach is significant, so some more “traditional” employers are reluctant to relinquish control and give employees the freedom to choose their own learning paths.

But there’s no need to choose either self-directed learning or employee-directed learning. Many companies opt to maintain a traditional employer-directed learning programme whilst also setting aside a small budget for self-directed learning activities.

What Are The Benefits Of Employee Directed Learning?

More engaged employees

Employees taking part in an employee-directed learning programme report higher engagement with their learning than the more traditional counterpart. This is fairly self-explanatory – employees feel a sense of ownership when choosing their own resources, rather than simply taking part in a “tick box” exercise.

Learning is achieved on a deeper level

Traditional programmes have a tendency to “scratch the surface” and provide “surface learning” because of their “one size fits all” nature. With employee-directed learning, employees are free to explore areas that they find particularly engaging, achieving a much better depth of knowledge.

It creates a learning culture

Instead of creating an “us vs. them” culture, employee directed learning helps foster a culture of enablement and progression. A culture of learning helps to attract and retain the most curious and motivated individuals, making your business even more effective.

Resources you wouldn’t have thought of

Unless you’re an expert in all areas, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recommend the optimal books, courses and resources for every individual discipline in your business. This is where the magic of employee-directed learning comes in – employees are free to spend on the resources they find the most useful (and interesting).

What are the drawbacks of employee directed learning?

Employee-directed learning is most suitable for curious, intellectually motivated individuals who wish to become the best at their craft. Self-directed is therefore better suited to some professions more than others – it is particularly successful in sectors such as tech, marketing and professional services.

Employee-directed learning programmes can fail if employees don’t have access to the right resources or find it difficult to ask for resources.

How do I set up an employee directed learning programme?

A platform like Learnli can help you set up a self-directed learning programme.

Simply sign up, add team members and allocate a budget to each employee and approve requests as they come in.