What Companies Get Wrong When It Comes to Learning & Development

Organizations are spending billions of dollars every year on Learning & Development (L&D), but what are they really getting back? Having a well-trained, highly-engaged, and motivated team of employees is no easy feat, but because of how difficult it is to measure the ROI on Learning & Development Initiatives, many organizations end up spending huge sums of money on programs they are not even entirely sure are effective. Employee training is a hefty investment, so why aren’t companies tracking their returns?

Here are the top five things companies get wrong when it comes to Learning & Development.

  1. Training isn’t targeted – Most companies make little to no effort to assess their employees’ capabilities, and thus have no way of measuring skill gaps and tailoring Learning & Development to meet business needs. Without measuring the current state of employee development (i.e. which skills your teams are competent in, and more importantly ,which skills your teams lack), you will lack clear direction of how to structure L&D initiatives. The most successful organizations take a pro-active, purposeful approach to L&D and have a comprehensive competency model based on the organization’s strategic direction.
  2. Learning isn’t reinforced with on-the-job applications – If newly learned information isn’t applied and practiced, it is guaranteed to be forgotten. Most companies utilize the day-long (or several-day-long) training model in which they bombard their employees with a ton of information, of which more than half will be forgotten by the time the training is over. High-performing organizations have adopted a hybrid model of training and practical on-the-job application so employees develop skills in tandem with improving business processes.
  3. There aren’t any KPIs established for L&D – When it comes to measuring the “effectiveness” of employee Learning & Development initiatives, most organizations still rely on largely superficial metrics like training completion scores or smile sheets. The most successful organizations focus on outcomes-based metrics such as impact on individual performance, employee engagement, team effectiveness, and business process improvement. To begin to implement KPIs in you L&D programs, start with the two most important KPIs for employee training: First, how closely do L&D initiatives and investments align with business priorities and organizational strategy? Second, how is training changing employees’ behavior and on-the-job performance?
  4. They are training the wrong things – The most successful employee training programs across industries always come back to one competency: Problem Solving. Performing any job in any role involves using Problem Solving skills in one way or another, yet many companies tend to look past soft skill training in favor of role-specific training. While role-specific job duty training is important and essential, teaching your employees how to systematically approach and solve a problem is essential.
  5. They aren’t incorporating culture into L&D initiatives – Culture ought to be embedded in all of your training initiatives. Ultimately, corporate culture is lived out in every aspect of business processes and employee relations, but a true understanding and appreciation for your company’s values and standards starts with training. David Cummings, co-founder of Pardot, said it best when he said, “Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within your control.”