Learning and development (L&D) programs are valuable tools to help keep employees motivated and engaged. According to our Talent Index Seventh Edition survey, 61% of workers said they are interested in learning new skills at their current workplace. There’s a clear appetite for development.
Does your organization provide the L&D opportunities your talent desires? It’s important to remember that every person learns differently, so a one-size-fits-all approach to L&D won’t work.
There are broadly four main types of learning experiences that provide opportunities for your employees to upskill and develop professionally. Which of the following types of learning experiences does your organization offer? Which ones are working well? And which ones should you consider adding to your L&D program?
Employee-led learning opportunities are a crucial part of the employee experience. These types of one on one or small group peer-to-peer experiences allow employees to build connections and meaningful relationships at work, while learning and growing in the process.
Peer-to-peer learning experiences come in many forms – onboarding buddies, casual meetings over coffee to connect, mentoring, small group sessions, or even one-on-one training sessions to learn a new skill in a hands-on way. These employee-led experiences are much more intimate than larger-scale training sessions, making them excellent opportunities to not only deepen personal connections within the business, but allow for individual employees to learn in an individualized setting.
If you already have employee-led learning opportunities, are they yielding positive results? And if your company does not offer peer-to-peer learning opportunities – which could even include onboarding buddies to help new hires acclimate – it is something to consider.
When done right, employee-led learning can be beneficial for the entire organization, not just the individuals who are participating in the learning side or the training side of this process. When peers train peers, it promotes greater collaboration and teamwork, and creates a culture of knowledge sharing within the business.
Leader-to-employee learning typically involves larger, or even company-wide, sessions hosted by organizational leaders (e.g. C-Suite, SVP), to share high-level information about the business, future plans for growth, progress on goals, business outcomes, and more.
Some examples of leader-to-employee learning include: a fireside chat with the Chief People Officer, an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) session with the CEO, or a lunch-and-learn with the SVP of Product. These opportunities hold value by giving everyone in the company exposure to senior leadership, and by instilling L&D into the culture of the organization.
If you’re doing them right, sessions like these can also improve employee engagement. For example, AMAs are great opportunities for leaders to be transparent with employees. In our Talent Index research, we found that 37% of employees were fearful of being laid off – making them more likely to look for work elsewhere. One of the top reasons why employees were worried is because of the lack of transparency from leadership.
With the right planning, leader-to-employee learning can not only help employees grow professionally, but it can help boost employee engagement and retention. In more intimate settings, leaders can also learn a lot from these interactions, and some companies even set up reverse mentoring programs to help educate leaders on changes in technology, society and expectations, and ideas for innovation. Is your organization taking full advantage of this opportunity?
Learning experiences led by Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) are typically more formal, deep dives into a specific topic or skill. These are led by employees who know their area of expertise inside and out, and they have deep knowledge to share with others.
SMEs are extremely valuable within an organization, and if you aren’t having them teach others what they know, you are missing a big opportunity. This type of training can help beginners become proficient in a skill, or help those who are proficient to become more advanced.
Some examples of SME-led learning opportunities are: a training on a new software product your organization has invested in, having an expert teach fellow employees how to improve their workflow using advanced functions in Microsoft Excel, or even having a Sales expert host a workshop for new Sales staff on how to deliver a successful pitch.
Employees who have reached expert-level in a particular skill can act as mentors for others who are looking to either learn or improve that skill. It is also a great way to help experts feel valued and also to help codify and embed knowledge that may otherwise stay in people's heads. Is your organization getting subject matter experts involved in your L&D program?
External partnership-led learning
Sometimes, your business might need to partner with an expert from outside the company to host a training session on a particular topic. These are partner-led learning experiences, and they can be really useful if you want to provide a learning opportunity for your staff, but don’t have an SME, or a leader who is available to speak on that topic.
Perhaps you could bring in a social selling expert to teach your sales team how to better use tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator? Or maybe you could hire a guest speaker to come in and talk to your employees about how to improve their public speaking or presentation skills. You can also make externally created courses available to employees through purchasing access and embedding these in your learning platforms, moving your focus to curating, adoption and driving outcomes of learning rather than course creation.
L&D should be a priority in your business – not just for employee engagement, but for overall business growth and success. Just because you might not have an internal employee willing to facilitate a training on a particular topic, doesn’t mean you can’t offer it to your employees. Don’t be afraid to outsource, to provide your team with the most valuable and highly sought after learning experiences.
Which types of learning experiences does your organization currently offer? If you haven’t already, now is the time to take inventory of what you have. How easily accessible are those opportunities for employees? And how successful (or unsuccessful) have those programs been in the past?
If you aren’t offering a full range of opportunities as part of your L&D strategy, including employee-led, leader-led, subject-matter-expert-led and partner-led learning, consider which of these might be a good fit for your organization going forward. And if you are already offering plenty of learning experiences for your team, are they yielding the positive results you are looking for?
With the right technology – such as an AI-powered Talent Marketplace – you can quickly and easily match individual employees to these types of learning opportunities, based on the skills they have, their career aspirations, potential to learn adjacent skills, and the skills gaps that exist internally. If you aren’t sure where to begin or improve your L&D program, a Talent Marketplace is a good starting point.