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How to get workers on side for learning programmes

  • 5 Min Read

Despite the growing importance of L&D programmes, employee engagement remains a challenge. Discover methods to create a supportive learning environment and gain leadership buy-in.

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Stacey Hayes-Allen

In the last year, helping employees develop in their careers has climbed from number nine to number four on learning and development (L&D) priority lists. And it’s no surprise – as research suggests seven in ten workers believe learning improves their sense of connection with their organisation, and eight in ten say it adds purpose to their work.

With L&D becoming progressively more important, Stacey Hayes-Allen, Director of Corporate Partnerships at Arden University, discusses how HR teams can get employees to successfully onboard learning programmes to unlock their full potential.

L&D can be a tricky benefit to offer employees, especially when it comes to engagement and onboarding. In fact, data from The Learning and Work Institute suggests around 28 million adults (51% of the population) have had no training in the last three years. So, how can businesses get L&D to a place where employees are engaged, upskilled and benefiting the company?

The right learning mindset

Firstly, there are some key barriers when it comes to learning and development. 46% of L&D Professionals don’t have a handle on how much they spend per employee, and only 8% are prioritising speeding up the transfer of learning back into the workplace or creating a more inclusive learning offering for all. On top of this, a lack of learner time and engagement are also key barriers for L&D when supporting organisational and people goals. As a result, for learning to be impactful, HR teams need to first consider the environment in which the learning is taking place.

Employees need to have the permission and space to learn; they need trust, a safe space to be curious and an environment that embraces mistakes. However, CIPD’s research found that the majority of learning practitioners don’t feel they work in organisations that foster a climate of genuine psychological safety, where teams are encouraged to take risks, raise issues, learn from mistakes and embrace unique skills.

In fact, only two-fifths of organisations believe they have a learning environment that fosters trust, with just over a third encouraging enquiry and curiosity from all individuals, and a third embracing mistakes as an opportunity to learn.

To tackle this, fostering the right learning mindset and creating a safe space for learning needs to be embedded throughout the business. Having a single point of contact within the organisation for L&D initiatives is invaluable here, as it can provide a support system for employees during their learning journey, as well as an avenue for feedback on preferred learning opportunities to ensure initiatives meet employee needs.

When we work with organisations to upskill employees with degree apprenticeships, we’ve found that companies with specific team members to guide learners end up with a stronger end-to-end learning programme. They can effectively promote courses during recruitment, check that learners are happy and well supported and ensure alignment between employee learning and organisational goals.

Creating a strong learning mindset also means managers need to be equipped with a growth mindset. This not only creates a stronger, more supportive learning environment, but it also encourages managers to present opportunities to their team, pushing them to consider their future career goals and L&D prospects, as well as to provide guidance to those who may want to practice what they are learning.

Getting leadership buy-in for L&D

HR teams will also need strong buy-in from leadership teams for L&D to work effectively. Only 12% of employees apply new skills learned in L&D programmes to their jobs, so ensuring employees are exercising what they learn at work is an important first step. Of course, this is where having a dedicated L&D officer fits in, but leadership buy-in will also help.

The value of learning should be presented through tangible data and a strategic plan that positively impacts the bottom line of the business. However, to prove the true value of L&D, organisations must also take specific steps to adapt learning initiatives to their business. To do this, a strong vision is needed.

Those looking to convince leadership teams need to know what is effective for their business – and this will vary from company to company. With digital learning continuing to rise, ensuring your vision takes this into account – while ensuring any learning provider is able to effectively engage learners through the screen is vital. For example, at Arden University, we offer a dedicated 1-2-1 personal coach and a student support officer to ensure students remain engaged.

L&D significantly contributes to improving organisational performance, transformation, innovation and growth, with research showing that, on average, companies earn over double the income per employee when they offer employee training.

To engage employees, it’s important for HR teams to prove to leadership teams and employees the value of learning and development through a strong strategy and learning culture within the business.

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