It’s widely accepted that workplace learning and training are vital components of employee development. These types of learning and development (L&D) programs, when executed correctly, have the power to improve workforce agility, boost productivity, fill skills gaps and support the long-term growth of a business.
Yet despite these proven benefits, many traditional corporate training and learning programs yield minimal results. These costly initiatives are frequently outdated, ineffective and fail to resonate with employees.
As a result, many L&D leaders are looking for alternative solutions to these traditional training methods that will deliver a return on investment (ROI). The value of workforce learning and training is undeniable, but there’s a need for a more modern approach that’s effective at engaging employees and contributes to business outcomes.
Let’s take a look at why many corporate training and learning programs fall short and how you can redefine your current strategy to develop a program that’s actually worth the investment.
The cost of corporate training and learning
U.S.-based corporations spent nearly $82.5 billion on training expenditures in 2020. The same study reported that large organizations (over 10,000 employees) spend an average of $1,544 per employee learner.
Even with this hefty financial investment, many organizations still struggle to see results from their efforts. A recent InStride survey found that 68 percent of decision-makers surveyed reported that skills gaps in their workforce are limiting the organization’s growth. Traditional training programs frequently miss the mark when it comes to aligning the right learning options to the individual employee and the greater skills needs of the business.
Employees aren’t reaping the benefits either — only 25 percent of employees surveyed in a McKinsey study said they felt their workplace training had a positive effect on performance.
A few key factors that contribute to the ineffectiveness of traditional training and learning programs include:
- They’re too generic
Many traditional learning and training programs follow a generic, one-size-fits-all model. While this can be useful for trainings that are relevant to a broad group of people, such as company onboarding, it’s not an effective approach for meaningful skill-building or continuous employee development.
Not only does this alienate employees with varied learning styles, but it also fails to account for the different learning needs of individuals across different roles. For example, a junior-level software engineer on the path to management has an entirely different set of learning and training needs from someone on the same team at the director level.
- They don’t align with tangible career outcomes
Employees want to know that the time and effort required to commit to learning at work will lead to tangible career outcomes. Without a clear outcome in sight, it can be difficult to engage employees and get them to participate in your programs.
- They don’t support long-term professional development
Training is effective at getting workers to learn something new in a short amount of time, but it often fails to encourage continuous learning and development. These efforts are adequate for reaching short-term learning goals, but ineffective at promoting long-term growth, both for the employee and the business.
How to find success in corporate training
Your training initiatives should align with your business objectives, but another important factor is imperative: designing a training program that really works means putting the needs of your employees first and trusting that this will inform organizational performance.
Here’s how to make that happen.
Provide a personalized learning experience
The key to a successful L&D program lies in meeting the specific needs and objectives of your individual employees. Broad-based learning programs don’t work because not everyone learns the same way and not everyone needs the same kind of training to succeed in their individual career path.
A tailored learning strategy that is specific to the needs of your business and designed to support your employees’ career paths will yield palpable results by aligning training methods and content with the precise needs of your organization.
Utilize career pathing and objectives
Make the nuances of workplace training measurable by setting strategic landmarks in employee development that track both technical competencies as well as relevant soft skills. This type of career pathing also helps you (and the employee) understand what exactly an individual needs to do and learn to get to the next phase of their career.
In the new world of work, remote and hybrid working models have quickly become the norm across many industries. Your workplace training and learning programs have to evolve to meet the needs and expectations of the modern workforce. This means providing employees with the flexibility they need to learn on their own time and at their own pace — most commonly through online learning.
Thinking beyond corporate training
It’s true that training is a powerful tool for short-term skill-building or teaching company-wide processes such as onboarding and offboarding. However, if your goal is to address skills gaps, build workforce agility and support long-term business growth, it’s time to consider a more comprehensive L&D strategy that includes education.
A strategic workforce education program combines the benefits of training with the lasting power of education — giving your employees access to a variety of learning options that fit their unique skills needs. This provides your people with continuous learning opportunities that extend far beyond a single training or skill-building course. For your organization, this means having the ability to align employee learning to business objectives, filling skill gaps before they arise and getting a return on your L&D dollars.
Curious to know more about the ROI of workforce education? Use our ROI calculator to see the estimated return on investment for your industry.