InStride named a 2023 Most Innovative Company by Fast Company
September 2, 2021


5 min read

How to improve the employee learning experience

In this post:

Employee and business growth go hand-in-hand. When people feel stagnant and lack opportunities for advancement at their company, they tend to be disengaged. The less engaged your employees are, the more likely they are to look for new opportunities or leave your company altogether. This leads to costly turnover and can negatively impact the business as a whole.

For many learning and development (L&D) leaders, avoiding this snowball effect is consistently top-of-mind. But simply having L&D tools and initiatives in place isn’t always enough — it’s the greater employee learning experience that ultimately influences whether or not your people take advantage of the opportunities that are available to them.

Let’s discuss the key factors that influence the employee learning experience and share how you can ensure that your L&D efforts are driving meaningful business results.


Why the employee learning experience matters

Nearly every aspect of an enterprise business is impacted by the quality of its L&D initiatives. To better understand this connection, let’s break down the six business factors that influence (and are influenced by) employee learning: 

Revenue and profitability

The more skilled and educated your people are, the better your business performs. Providing access to high-quality learning and education opportunities keeps your employees engaged and always looking ahead. This type of growth mindset can lead to better innovation, productivity and profitability. 

Business agility

Regardless of what industry you’re in, change is inevitable. Keeping your employees’ competencies and skill sets up-to-date ensures that your business remains relevant and ready for the next disruption. At the individual level, cultivating a positive employee learning experience enables your people to prepare for their own futures, while also continuing to grow within your organization. 

Attracting and retaining talent

Top job candidates look for growth and development opportunities in a prospective employer. By enhancing the employee learning experience, you get less turnover from your best people and support a greater culture of learning within the workplace. Meanwhile, you start to build an employer brand reputation that attracts growth-oriented external talent. 

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Providing access to learning and education opportunities has the power to break down barriers and open doors for historically underrepresented groups. A major part of enhancing the employee learning experience is making sure that your L&D initiatives are accessible and within reach for all employees — regardless of their financial status or educational background.

Curious to know more about the impact of learning on diversity, equity and inclusion? Download this free guide to learn how you can promote equality with workforce education.


How to enhance the employee learning experience

Most organizations are aware that greater company goals should inform how L&D is structured and utilized. However, what many businesses don’t acknowledge is the role of employee experience in that equation. To enhance the overall effectiveness of your L&D programs, it’s important to consider both the business outcome and the human component.

Here are three actionable ways to leverage these two concepts to your advantage: 

Define tangible career outcomes

InStride research shows that employees desire to see a clearly defined path to growth. They may be hesitant to take advantage of learning opportunities if they don’t have a strong understanding of how it will help them get to the next level of their career.

For L&D leaders, it’s critical to ensure that the learning programs you have in place are tied to tangible career outcomes that are unique to the individual. This enables team members to visualize a clear path to success and feel confident in their decision to commit to learning. From a business perspective, this gives you insight into which employees have the potential to fill future roles. 



Remove barriers to learning

Many traditional approaches to workplace learning and education suffer from low usage and adoption rates simply because they’re not accessible. It’s common for programs to have complex eligibility stipulations or require upfront payment from the individual. This makes it difficult for people to take advantage of a program, even if they’re interested in it. For the business, this means these costly programs go widely underused and fail to deliver a return-on-investment.

When evaluating your L&D initiatives, accessibility and ease of use should be a top consideration. For example, consider implementing online-only programs that allow employees to learn on their own schedule. If you have an existing tuition reimbursement program, consider moving to a direct-payment model that takes the financial burden off of your team members. This approach makes for an employee learning experience that’s fair and equitable.

Train people managers to be learning advocates

When it comes to the employee learning experience, people managers are a largely influential resource. Team members are much more likely to pursue learning if they have the support of a trusted manager or mentor that helps them visualize what’s needed to get to the next level in their career.

People managers play an influential role in the overall employee learning experience. Many employees rely on their managers for guidance and career advice throughout their learning journey. That’s why it’s so important to engage managers and arm them with the resources they need to make the right suggestions and provide support to their direct reports,” shares Maryam Sohraby, Director, Learner Engagement at InStride.


Where traditional employee learning metrics fall short

Some common learning and development metrics, such as enrollment rate or time to completion, aren’t always the best indicators of the employee learning experience.

While useful in understanding if your L&D programs are being used, these metrics give little insight into the lasting effect or whether employees are truly benefiting. They don’t paint an accurate picture of the success because they don’t take into account employee experience. 

For deeper insight into the effectiveness of your efforts, your talent development metrics should also focus on measurements such as:

  • Retention rates
  • Talent distribution
  • Talent mobility
  • High-potential talent percentages


Considering the human case and business case for better employee learning can help you build a strong L&D foundation designed to provide an impactful experience for your employees and help you meet your organizational goals.

What does a positive employee learning experience actually look like? Tune in to hear Yadira’s story, where she shares how she turned her dream of returning to school into a reality with the help of her employer.