Why and How to Shift the Focus to Learning and Development

February 9, 2022 in , ,
By Jacob Flinck and Shareen Marhoumy

Later this month is Digital Learning Day, a day organized by All4Ed to celebrate educators around the world who use digital technology to create robust, authentic, and personalized learning opportunities. While Digital Learning Day is mostly celebrated by teachers and students, this day is just as impactful for organizations who have invested in technology to provide improved learning opportunities for their employees. FMP’s Learning & Development (L&D) Center of Excellence (COE) is dedicated to offering innovative training and development solutions for our clients, however, to be able to implement training for our clients, we recognize that we need to be just as dedicated to identifying and offering training opportunities internally at FMP – both for new and experienced employees.

Since the pandemic began, every organization has been working hard to redefine their approaches to working effectively, engaging their workforce, and attracting new talent. They’ve also had to make decisions and plans for returning to the office, continuing to work remotely, or a hybrid approach. Now more than ever, it is so important for organizations to keep training and development in their line of sight while planning for these changes.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the benefits for focusing on learning and development and share tips organizations can use to enhance the training opportunities available for their employees.

Why Training and Development Should be a Priority

There are countless reasons why organizations should make more training opportunities available for employees – helping to remain competitive, cultivating a culture of learning, and increasing productivity, to name a few. A few additional benefits to consider are listed below:

The investment is worth it. Benjamin Franklin once said, “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” While the onus is always on the individual to decide where they want to invest their time and energy so they can learn and grow, employers should keep this in mind as well when deciding where to allocate funds. A recent report by Manpower Group found that 69% of employers around the world are struggling to hire right now, however, one of the top incentives to attract and retain talent was offering training, skills development, or mentoring. Investing more money into professional development opportunities will appeal to both your current and future employees.

Employees gain control over their career. A study by the Work Institute last year found that for the tenth year in a row, career development was the number one reason employees quit their jobs. We’ve heard stories from friends and family members over the past two years that were unhappy with their job or felt stuck in their career. A commonality across all many of these stories was that they worked for a company or had a supervisor that wasn’t dedicated to helping them develop professionally. They have since taken their professional development into their own hands, but this also meant leaving behind their previous positions.

It drives innovation. Offering more training and career development opportunities to your employees will increase engagement and productivity, as well as encourage innovation and creativity. Your organization may be in the process of implementing major changes with the goal of innovating and improving your processes (e.g., replacing an old system, changing your organizational structure, launching a new service or product). The skills your employees gain will likely complement your organizations shifting needs in some way, either by them sharing ideas and suggestions or by getting involved and helping move the organization towards your goal.

Tips for Implementing New and Improved L&D Opportunities

Below are four tips’ organizations can use to place more emphasis on learning and development and offer new and improved training for their workforce.

Evaluate existing training. Take the time to review survey evaluations submitted by your employees for any training and developmental opportunities offered during the pandemic – big and small. Feedback received from employees about a 1-hr Lunch & Learn workshop is just as valuable as feedback on a 3-day training course or 12-month Mentoring Program. There may be open-ended responses in the survey that connect the dots on how you can enhance your various training solutions. You should also take a close look at any new training that was implemented during the pandemic. After assessing the evaluations, try answering these questions:

  • What went well?
  • What needs to be improved on?
  • What did employees want to see more of?

If the survey responses don’t help you answer these questions, it may be time to revisit those surveys to make them more effective

Be prepared to pivot your approach (again). If you were starting to plan to offer training in-person again, be open to returning to virtual training, if necessary. The good news is many of us have figured out creative ways to make virtual training just effective as in-person. Everyone has different learning styles, so, if possible, offer the training in both formats. For example, if you plan to offer a training 3 times a year, you could make two offerings virtual, and one offering in-person. Another scenario to consider may be that your organization has offered a training for the past few years and always scheduled it on Monday, but you learn (perhaps through your in-depth evaluation assessment) that there is a high demand for the training to be offered on Fridays. Ultimately, embracing the needs of your workforce will lead to the best results.

Encourage employees to reflect on goals for the year. Supervisors and employee should discuss goals and priorities regularly throughout the year, not just during performance planning discussions. Holding frequent check-in conversations (bi-weekly or monthly is ideal) can help an employee stay on track with their goals and give supervisors more insight into training opportunities they can suggest that will help support their employee achieve their goals. To prompt more discussion about career development, supervisors should ask questions like:

  • Have your goals changed?
  • What else do you still need/want to accomplish this year?
  • What are you interested in learning more about?
  • Are the projects you are working on aligned with your goals?

Consider new training opportunities for employees. Offer additional training that will help employees to develop professional skills before the end of the year. A best practice is for organizations to use the 70/20/10 Model in their learning and development strategy, which aims for 70% of learning to be through on-the-job related experiences, 20% of learning through informal training and social interactions, and 10% of learning through formal training. There are many informal ways employees can learn professional skills (e.g., reading articles, watching videos, attending internal Brown Bag sessions, asking advice from mentors), but when organizations offer formal training courses, this helps employees learn how to really put those skills to practice.

If you are interested in offering more professional training within your organization, FMP’s Course Catalog is now available through the General Services Administration (GSA) and includes 26 training courses on various topics, including change management, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I), career development, facilitation and presentation skills, management and leadership skills, and more.

Interested in learning more about FMP’s Course Catalog, and other training solutions FMP offers? Reach out to cashbyking@fmpconsulting.com!

Image of Shareen Marhoumy

Shareen Marhoumy joined FMP in November 2018 and is a Consultant in the L&D Center of Excellence (COE). Shareen is also a DHS Section 508 Trusted Tester and passionate about developing accessible and inclusive training solutions. When Shareen isn’t designing e-learning content, facilitating workshops, or supporting virtual trainings, she enjoys trying new recipes in her kitchen, spending time outdoors, and watching anything sci-fi/fantasy on her couch with her husband and cat.

Image of Jacob Flinck

Jacob Flinck is a Managing Consultant with a focus on learning and development, organization development, and communications and change management. Jacob currently leads internal special projects focused on IT and operations as well as works to expand our intelligence community (IC) practice. Jacob is a Prosci Certified Change Practitioner and a Certified Scrum Master (CSM). For fun, he likes to cook, bake, read, travel, and jump on his bike for some Peloton spin classes.