Companies live or die based on the strength of their employees. This reasoning fosters a strong learning and development (L&D) culture, which, in turn, can potentially lead to the long-term success of your organization.
However, your company is not the only one that can benefit from L&D — so can your employees. Indeed, facilitating employee learning and development can be a highly effective way to drive employee engagement.
This article describes best practices for using L&D to cultivate a positive work environment and build a productive, effective, and highly engaged workforce.
Your L&D strategy isn’t going to be effective as an employee engagement tool if employees feel compelled or coerced to take on the learning endeavor. Rather, they may feel as if they’ve just incurred another weight of responsibility to bear in addition to their established job duties.
If used effectively, however, it can be used as an opportunity for employees to develop their careers. For example, using employee career planning to promote continuous learning and development can be an effective way to use L&D as an engagement tool. This works because it enables you and your employee to align the future vision for the company with the employee’s future vision for their career.
In other words, career planning enables employees to develop a clear sense of the path they want their professional lives to take and their role, which L&D will bring to fruition.
Just as importantly, career planning when linked to L&D underscores the company’s long-term commitment to the employee and their successful advancement in the organization. It’s far easier for employees to invest and engage with a company when that company is so deeply engaged and invested with you.
No matter how motivated your employees may be to undertake advanced training for the sake of career advancement and other incentives, they simply won’t succeed if the learning process is too arduous. Fostering engagement through L&D will almost inevitably require you to tailor your training protocols to the particular needs, aptitudes, and expectations of each individual learner.
For example, you may have an employee who is math-phobic but who is also a writing rockstar and dreams of an executive position with the company’s marketing or communications divisions one day. It’s unlikely that they’re going to find either purpose or value in an accounting course. In other words, if you want your employees to engage, it’s imperative to offer professional development opportunities that suit their individual learning abilities and unique educational goals.
One of the greatest and most prolific threats, both to organizational success and employee performance, is the information silo. Information silos refer to a disruption in the communication chain that prevents essential knowledge from being shared within and across departments. These disruptions lead to inefficiencies and errors which could easily have been avoided and which often severely compromise the customer experience.
However, information silos can be prevented through the strategic use of L&D to facilitate interdepartmental learning. For instance, you might assign a subject matter expert from the sales team to lead a training seminar for the marketing and communications team on their particular area of expertise.
This process of leveraging the talents of individual team members to support their colleagues’ enrichment is a highly effective way to promote collaboration while validating your employees’ unique contributions to the organization.
Learning and development are essential tools for fostering the long-term success of an organization. Just as importantly, L&D can contribute significantly to employee engagement. The key to leveraging L&D as an engagement tool lies in cultivating a future vision aligning employee and company goals, tailoring development processes to the needs and purposes of individual learners, and in fostering a highly collaborative working and learning environment.