How digital learning drives talent development and growth
Developing talent internally is no longer an elective for organisations today, with factors such as the growing skills gap of the digital economy mandating the need to upskill and promote from within, said Aaron Laznovsky, Senior Principal Product Manager, Talent Management, SumTotal Systems.
Writing in a SumTotal Systems white paper titled, How Learning Drives Talent Development and Growth, he added, “Formerly touted as ‘added benefits’ of employee learning, increased engagement and retention of your workforce are imperatives in the current talent market. To create the talent you need in-house, organisations must meet two requirements.”
These, Laznovsky explained, involves making learning a strategic priority for employees, and ensuring that learning and development programmes deliver results that directly support achievement of business goals defined by top management.
Making learning a strategic priority
Start by ensuring that learning is relevant and tie developmental opportunities directly to employees’ goals and preferred learning approaches, Laznovsky advised.
Then, integrate learning into employees’ workday and workspace in a manner that keeps them within their normal flows work. When learning is readily accessible and seamlessly integrated into daily activities, employees are more likely to seize opportunities to master news skills and acquire new knowledge.
Organisations also need to ensure they support micro-learning through content channels such as YouTube, blogs, and Twitter. “To enable micro-learning on-demand for employees, deliver learning in curated, bite-sized formats, much like what employees are accustomed to in their consumer lives,” Laznovsky said.
Next, organisations should enable self-directed learning, which gives employees control over their careers and professional development. To support self-directed learning, organisations need to make it easy for employees to see what skills and knowledge they must build to close performance gaps in their current job roles and provide access to tools that can be used to manage their learning.
With the plethora of content available today, technology can help guide employees through the learning process. In particular, the right learning management system (LMS) can help organisations take the guesswork out of professional development for employees, Laznovsky noted. The system, he added, can also enable organisations to deliver learning content that is the most credible and relevant for employees.
Lastly, when employees find learning content and training that resides outside the organisation, learning must be accounted for in the organisation’s talent development systems, and employees’ achievements tracked. These practices, Laznovsky explained, foster accountability for progress on the part of learners, by enabling them to see where they are in their learning plan.
Align learning with business goals
Learning must be connected to business impact, with a clear connection between learning and training initiatives and enterprise value the expectation going forward, Laznoksky suggested.
To ensure that learning initiatives directly support the achievement of important business goals, organisations need to integrate learning with talent management. “Identify the competencies needed to achieve business success as defined by the organisation,” he added. “Then, design learning initiatives that will enable employees to acquire or strengthen those competencies.”
To incentivise employees to embrace learning opportunities, organisations can also develop gamified experiences, such as badge notifications or points to completion. Additionally, tie learning activities to employees’ time and attendance schedules to ensure that only trained and certified employees are scheduled to work.
Next, quantify training return-on-investment (ROI) by tracking job performance against the right metrics to show returns on investments in training and development. If ROI in any training is shown to deliver business results that support specific strategic objectives, organisations will be more likely to continue investing in such training.
Laznoksky also advised organisations to monitor progress, and course correct as needed. “Monitor employees’ progress in mastering the skills needed to help attain business goals and provide them with continuous feedback to pinpoint skills that require strengthening through additional learning or through changes in current approaches to learning.”
He concluded, “Regularly check how well each employee’s on-the-job performance meets requirements for his or her current role. If performance shortfalls are revealed, identify development activities that could be offered to the individual to close the gaps.”
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