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Webinar Recap: Encourage Employee Learning, Development & Upskilling

Jason Diamond Arnold

November 21, 2019

Inspire recently joined Workology to present a webinar: How to Encourage Employee Learning, Development, & Upskilling. Learning and Development experts discussed how to use different types of formal and informal learning strategies to attract, engage, and retain employees in today’s competitive talent market.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SHRM-SCP (Founder of Workology) hosted the event, and was joined by Elizabeth Beckham (Learning and Development Manager at Turner Industries Group, LLC), and myself, Jason Arnold (Director of Leadership and Talent Solutions, Inspire Software).

Learn different strategies that help encourage focused self-development along with a more formal employee development program in Workology’s latest podcast. @InspireSoftware’s Director of Leadership, @jdiamondarnold, gets in on the discussion:Tweet This!

The presentation explored best practices for creating an effective Learning and Development program within organizations. Participants discovered:

  • HR Flow Decision Framework
  • How to Diagnose and Identify Learning Needs
  • Formal vs. Informal Employee Training
  • Measuring Learning Success
  • Learning and Development Action Steps

HR Flow Decision Framework

Before you begin working on your employee learning strategy, understand your core learning and development objective, and consider the end-to-end process to achieve that objective. Examine what you’ll need to gather, when you need to gather it, and how to put it into a learning context. The HR Flow Decision Framework is a 5-step framework used to align your decisions in HR with the larger strategy of your organization. Consider these critical steps:

Step 1) “Describe, Design, and Align.” This step ensures your Learning and Development team has thoroughly thought out your learning plan, and that it aligns with the overall objective you’re seeking to achieve through the L&D strategy.

Step 2) Planning and Pondering. This means building out a plan and the best possible strategy with which to implement it. Your L&D team should establish critical key results of the program and the specific dates by which you'd like to achieve those results. A learning plan will help you stay on track toward your overall learning objective, and allow you to make course corrections as necessary along the way.

Step 3) Testing and Redefining. Before you roll out your plan to the organization, gather a small pilot group to test the learning experience. This is a safer place to fail early on, and allows you the opportunity to make adjustments before rolling it out to all employees. Put your plan to work and examine what needs to pivot in your learning strategy — before it impacts the larger organization.

Step 4) Take Action and Launch. Once you have a plan and the key metrics you’d like to measure in place — for before, during, and after your plan — go for it! Implement your vetted process and let the learning begin.

Step 5) Diagnose and Improve. Set certain milestones and dates to check in on the learning process, and evaluate the impact it has on learners and the larger strategy of the company. The work is never over, and your process is never perfect. Look for ways to improve the learning experience throughout the process. Continually assess the skills and motivation of your employees to optimize learning.

Once you have a clear picture of the overall process, your L&D team will be more intentional about training and more objective in measuring and assessing the results of your learning strategy.

Diagnose and Identify Your Learning Needs

Identifying your needs is the most critical step and should be accomplished before you consider any other part of your framework. Look at what you need, where you need it, and how you need it to change. Use this pattern to put it into this context:

  • Set the Stage: What are you trying to achieve?
  • Set Timeline to Achieve your Learning Objective: How long will it take to get there?
  • Make Changes: What’s the best way to improve learning strategies?

Formal vs. Informal Employee Training

Both formal and informal training have an impact on organizations. Informal training can enact quick yet effective change in the short-term, while formal rollouts can affect long-term change with a more rigid learning process.

  • Informal programs, created by managers and HR leaders, can make an impact quickly. These programs are great at making small but meaningful learning experiences. Informal learning experience can range from a book club, where managers discuss and implement new ideas in best practices with their teams, to reading articles on LinkedIn or your favorite Content Matter Expert’s blog.
  • Formal programs are a more rigorous learning process, with vetted external content or a well-crafted internal curriculum, created by experts and thought leaders. Formal learning programs are typically used to engage more long-term, sustainable learning solutions designed to meet business challenges.

Measuring Learning Success

How do you know that the learning and development plan you're implementing is working? The success of your training can be factored by looking at several metrics:

  • Completion Rate: How many people actually finish the curriculum?
  • Satisfaction Rate: What’s the overall learner satisfaction rating of those in the training?
  • Revenue per Employee: What is the training impact on the bottom line, per learner?
  • Application Metrics: How are learners applying news skills and knowledge to enhance performance?
  • Pay Rate: What is the impact of learning on employee’s value?
The HR Flow Decision Framework is a framework used to align your decisions in HR with the bigger picture. Discover how these steps help #EmployeeDevelopment in @InspireSoftware’s latest blog:Tweet This!

By establishing basic learning metrics, managers and HR leaders can determine how effective their program is. Key learner data metrics can be used to align with other HR and Business analytics to measure and prove the positive impact learning has on the overall business.

Learning and Development in Action

When putting your Learning and Development plan into action, it’s essential to remember these activities:

  • Work with your leadership team to make sure programs align with broader business objectives.
  • Keep your target audience in mind when developing programs, and be flexible in the delivery of applications.
  • Offer learning and development at every level of your organization, not just managers and current leaders
  • Ensure training is integrated into the workflow by building skills and knowledge around individual and team goals that seek to align with corporate strategy.

A key highlight from the webinar:

“Executive buy-in is critical to any successful leadership and development initiative, but soft skills training can’t be imposed upon employees. It needs to be offered up in a way that the individual learner knows “what’s in it for me,” before it creates a real value-add to learners; otherwise it simply becomes compliance training, as opposed to a real opportunity to have a positive impact on business results. Training that isn’t freely chosen by the individual learner creates a sub-optimal learning environment and erodes organizational trust.”

If you’re interested in using this topic for your own learning, this webcast is pre-approved for 1.0 business HRCI and SHRM credits. And, if you were unable to attend the webinar live, a replay will be available. Sign up here!

If you’d like to learn more about employee learning and effective techniques for upskilling your employees, the Inspire team would love to explore more best practices with you.