BLOGHow to Develop a Successful Corporate Learning and Development Program
The best training programs don’t just happen—they’re the result of intentional work, research, and customization.
Creating a successful and effective Learning and Development (L&D) program will benefit your entire company. Employees do best when they have opportunities to grow and learn, and will thrive in companies where they are supported and encouraged in their career growth. Solid training programs increase employee satisfaction and loyalty—enabling you to retain great people.
Successful L&D programs also help your company improve generally. They can identify skill gaps and position your team to reach company goals.
So let’s get started! There are four critical steps to creating a successful program for your company: assess needs, create a strategic plan, integrate into HR processes, and measure results.
1. Assess Needs
One of the first questions to ask when creating an L&D program for your company is what you want the users to take away. Start with the end in mind. What’s the goal? This is critical for the final outcome. Without a clear idea of where you want to go, your program can become messy or fail to address issues.
One of the biggest mistakes at this first stage is rushing in without understanding your company’s needs or making assumptions. It can be easy to start working based on what you personally want for the program, but don’t confuse your wants with the actual needs.
At this stage, learning and understanding is essential. To gain the information you need for an effective L&D program, you’ll need to do an assessment using:
- Strategic planning sessions
- Focus groups
When conducting your assessment, get the answers to these questions:
- What training do you already have?
- What existing training is being done well?
- Where are your current gaps?
- Where are your bottlenecks? How can you fix them?
- How easily are new employees learning their roles?
- Do your employees feel they need more support in any areas?
- Where do your employees want to go in their career paths? How can you support their journey?
- What type of training are your competitors offering?
- What’s the point of this training? What does it need to accomplish?
This will give you a clear understanding of your end goal. Prepared with research and the answers to these important questions, you’re ready for the next step.
Align with Your Vision, Strategy, and Goals
While assessing your organization’s needs and preparing to make your plan, make sure you’re keeping in mind your organization’s vision, strategy, and goals. Your L&D program must align with these if it’s going to be successful. They should build off and complement one another.
If your organization isn’t clear on its goals, start there. You can’t create effective training if you aren’t clear on who you are as a company.
Don’t just focus on short-term goals, but consider further into the future as well. Where does your organization hope to be in 5, 10, 15 years? How can you continue to be relevant and create a program that is future-focused?
2. Create a Strategic Plan
Now that you know what your organization needs from an L&D program, it’s time to create the plan.
At this stage, you will start building the framework for your program and how you will deliver it to employees. You’ll need to map out all the components of the learning plan to ensure nothing essential is missing, but also that it isn’t going overboard.
While crafting the plan, try to have each module move seamlessly into the next section. You don’t want to create abrupt cuts where users might stop their learning journey. Keep the user’s experience in mind and create a clear journey for them.
While creating your plan, consider:
- What methodology will you use?
- How will the user go through this? How will they visualize it?
- What will their emotional and intellectual response be? What do you want it to be?
Again, be sure you’re not making assumptions but are drawing from your research and interviews.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at this stage, take a step back and prioritize. Some needs may be a more immediate concern than others. If you don’t have the capacity to tackle everything at once, start with the main issues.
Remember that your program will likely not be perfect the first time and needs can change. Allow for flexibility and updates in the future. Once you learn how your employees experience the training, you can tweak it to make it even better.
Harper Learning specializes in creating these plans, so if you’re struggling to find the perfect way to create your program, reach out to us—we’d love to help.
Use Effective Learning Journeys and Formats
No one wants to attend boring training. Not only are they uninteresting, but they may not be effective, resulting in wasted time. This may also create a need for re-training, which leads to extra costs and employees spending more time away from their work.
There are many ways to make training interesting. Mix up learning formats. Keep the structured learning, such as online courses, video-based training, and virtual and in-person instructor led workshops, but also include more informal learning sessions to keep your employees engaged and learning.
For example, consider including:
- Social learning
- Self-study opportunities
- Coaching and mentoring
- External training programs
Once you have a few methods, test them out. See how people react to the various methods and if they’re as engaging as you’d hoped. You’ll want to find the perfect method for your company, so remember to keep it personal and listen to your employees.
The goal is to have people move steadily through it—not pausing, not taking a break and coming back to it, but staying genuinely interested enough to keep moving forward.
Stay Ahead with Relevant Technology
The world is constantly evolving, and L&D programs need to stay updated as well.
Using old technology can give you a reputation of being behind the times and make it harder for employees to engage. If this is onboarding training, it’s your employee’s first experience with your company. You want it to be a good one.
Many companies make the mistake of sticking with what they know when creating L&D plans. They stay in their lanes and don’t try anything new, usually because that’s easiest. But that results in tired, boring training that doesn’t engage users.
Research the latest technology and the latest ways to integrate technology and learning. What will work best for your company? What are your employees interested in? What is the best way to communicate the information you need to share?
The default should be training that is accessible to everyone. Research what is needed for the type of training you have in mind—what types of impairments exist and how you can include them in your learning so that it is 100% accessible from the start.
If you’re not equipped to make this type of training yourself, consider working with a specialist. At Harper Learning, we do this regularly to ensure that our training programs are accessible to all users.
You can also enhance accessibility by offering different learning choices for different segments of the training. Different people learn in different ways. Your program can benefit by providing options for individuals to learn the same lessons but in different ways that resonate for them personally.
At the end of the day, you want your program to work for everyone.
3. Integrate Training into HR Processes
Now that you’ve got your plan outlined, it’s crucial to incorporate it into your HR processes. Make it a part of the hiring process. Use it in employee reviews. Ensure that your HR team is fully on board, understands the benefits, and will advocate for the program.
When your employees are involved in the process, they will feel more engaged with the training. And that’s essential—you need employee buy-in.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming your new employees suddenly know everything about your company and culture just because they’ve gone through the training and onboarding. It’s important to take their feedback and really listen to what they think and feel about the training. Integrate their recommendations so that they can see that their feedback makes a difference.
4. Measure Results
This is the last step, but a crucial one. Without measuring and tracking results, you won’t know the true outcome of the training. Understanding how the program is received is essential to improving it if there are weak spots.
The technology you use for your program should have metrics and tracking so you can see how users are engaging with the different sections. For any sections that aren’t online or easily trackable, make sure you’re taking notes and have a standard way of recording how engaged the users are.
- Are people pausing or getting confused? If multiple users ask questions at the same spot, it likely needs some clarification.
- Do they seem engaged, or are they just going through the motions as fast as possible?
- Are most people finishing the training? Is there an area with a large amount of drop-off?
- How are employees receiving the training? Anonymous surveys can help you get their true thoughts.
- If there are live segments, such as a teacher, are people engaging and asking questions?
Make notes of all these sections so you can accurately see what works and what doesn’t. If you don’t measure your results and track how the program is being received, you won’t know how to fix any potential issues. This wastes both money and time, and can even cost the respect of the employees who have used the program.
The Process Is Ongoing
No matter how great you think the program is, neglecting to track it means you’re missing out on the chance to improve the program and make it an even better fit for your employees and company.
We recommend having a dedicated person assess the results and regularly update the program to make it stronger. Get feedback from both managers and employees, and you’ll have a solid L&D program that’s well equipped for all your training needs.
Once you’ve rolled out your program, make it a good experience. Give your employees encouragement and positive reinforcement along the way, especially if it’s a long program.
This can look like:
- Accomplishment board
- Prizes for completion
- Team shout-outs
The options are endless. What works for your team and corporate culture? Celebrating success goes beyond just the training as well. If you see your team using the skills they learned from the training on the job, praise them for it. The training had results, so celebrate!
Now that you know the steps to creating an effective L&D program, try it out! If you have any further questions or want a skilled partner to help develop your program, contact Harper Learning today and let’s chat.