Nurturing Talent: 7 Employee Learning & Development Strategies

By Jeanette Coleman, SPHR & SHRM-SCP on Dec 13, 2023
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In today's fast-paced business world, the continuous growth and development of employees is not just a perk, but a necessity. As businesses evolve and industries transform, equipping your workforce with the right skills and knowledge becomes crucial for staying ahead of the curve.

This article explores seven strategic approaches to employee learning and development, each uniquely designed to foster a culture of continuous improvement and alignment with broader organizational goals. From conducting insightful market research to implementing mentoring programs and tracking ROI, these strategies are tailored to meet the diverse needs of your employees and the specific objectives of your organization.

Whether you're a seasoned HR professional or a business leader looking to enhance your team's capabilities, these insights will guide you in creating a more robust and effective employee learning and development environment in your workplace.

Align Employee Training with Organizational Goals

As you’re deciding which work training strategies to implement, it’s important to look at your options with a broad, whole-organization mindset. The first to any new training initiative should be an examination of the business’ needs. 

What are your goals for this year? To gain market share and take on new accounts? To improve client satisfaction? To heighten operational efficiency? It’s important to strategically align your training goals to those of your organization and set measurable points of achievement for your employees to match. This practice will not only forward your entire company’s best interest, but it will also strengthen the ROI of your strategies for training employees. 

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Conduct Market Research 

To build effective employee learning and development strategies, you’ll have to know how you measure up against the competition. Among other considerations, it’s important to benchmark your training methods against the competition. Conduct market research to determine what other companies in your area and within your industry are doing to get their people up to speed. 

Keep in mind that your work training strategies aren’t just ways to forward your business’ revenue goals, they’re also critical to your ability to recruit and retain talent. The Society of Human Resource Management reports that 68% of workers say they would "stay with their employer throughout their career if the employer made an effort to upskill them,” and 65% of workers said they would "stay throughout their career if their employer made an effort to reskill them.”

The demand for training exists, and your company is well-positioned to meet it. 

RELATED: How to Improve Leadership Skills - 4 Simple Strategies >>

Match Skills Gaps with What Employees Want

Once you’ve examined your own organizational goals and benchmarked your training strategies against your competitors, you can begin to narrow down your vision. The ultimate set of employee training strategies revolves around two things: What your employees want and what your business needs. 

You’ll need to determine what skills your employees need (or need to strengthen) to meet your organizational objectives. If you can match these varied skills to what your employees are most interested in, or already have an aptitude for, you can create some serious synergy. Consider surveying your workers about their skills and education. What do they already know, and what do they wish they knew more about? Answers to these questions can inform the best areas to focus different training efforts. 

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Cross-Train Early & Often 

Cross-training is one of the most underrated employee learning and development strategies, but it’s also one of the most productive for small businesses. The concept of cross-training involves teaching employees how to do a part or all of another employee’s assigned tasks.  

Cross-training helps to break down “silos,” or information and knowledge-sharing gaps that exist across your organization. Cross-training across departments can help an employee understand where his or her primary responsibilities tie into other important functions of the business, offering your company greater cohesiveness and efficiency long-term.  

In addition, cross-training allows an employee to step up and handle the duties of another worker who—for whatever reason—isn’t able to carry them out at a given time. 

RELATED:Cross-Training Employees: The Simple HR Strategy That Works Wonders >> 

Employee Learning & Development Through Mentoring 

Mentorship is one of the most mutually beneficial employee training strategies a small business can offer its employees. According to Forbes, while 76% of people think that mentorship is important, only 14% of mentor-mentee relationships begin with someone asking another person to mentor them. That leaves the power of forming a mentorship connection up to one entity—the employer.

Creating mentorship bonds within your organization benefits an employee by advancing his or her career and simultaneously benefits a company through the sharing of institutional knowledge. 

Even if you don’t have the immediate bandwidth or mentor interest to begin a full mentorship program right away, you can establish shadowing procedures quickly and easily. One-on-one shadowing requires less start-up time, less resource expenditure from a mentor, and many of the same benefits of a mentoring relationship. The relationship also offers space for continuous, real-time feedback to help employees know what’s working and what isn’t. 

RELATED:Are Annual Performance Reviews So Last Century? >> 

Track Your ROI 

For any of your new employee learning and development strategies, it’s important to remember the organizational and individual, employee-level goals you set out to improve at implementation. Tracking metrics helps you determine the ROI of a work training strategy and allows you to gather data to help you continuously improve over time. 

Metrics will differ across organizations, but generally, you should define several KPIs to monitor across a training strategy’s life cycle. You can also compare KPIs pre-strategy implementation to post-strategy implementation to measure how well a particular strategy is working for your business as a whole. 

RELATED: When Image is Everything - Closing the Manufacturing Skill Gap >>

Consult with HR Experts for Employee Learning & Development Programs 

Small businesses often have goals of delivering top-notch employee learning and development programs, but simply lack the resources to devote to the cause. In lean organizations like these, every employee is focused on generating revenue and enhancing the core business. 

That’s where Axcet HR Solutions comes in. Our employee learning and development specialists can help you implement a tailored employee training program that helps you meet your business’ goals through an investment in its people. 

To find out more about our HR outsourcing company and our PEO services, schedule a time to speak with us today

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