Today’s most-effective leaders understand the value of learning initiatives and the power they have to drive organizational change — whether that change affects company culture meeting specific business objectives.
As the need to stay competitive grows, learning and development has become an essential asset to help organizations of all sizes cope with yesterday’s changes while driving toward tomorrow’s opportunities.
According to a 2014 Brandon Hall Group study, 70 percent of companies that align learning with business priorities are able to improve company revenue. These learning initiatives span from driving change in customer satisfaction rates to motivating sales teams or employees across generations to keep up with ever-changing markets.
“If you look at historical data, development/learning is one of the first things to get cut in companies that aren’t high performers and the very last thing to get cut in companies that are high performers,” said Alan Cooper, associate dean of Willumsted School of Business at Adelphi University during a recent Human Capital Institute webinar.
Organizations that successfully use L&D to drive change must instill four key principles into their initiatives to ensure its true power. These are:
- Align the goals of the organization, the leadership and the workforce.
- Elevate learning programs.
- Employ more-effective strategies online with employee preferences/needs, such as teaching to several generations.
- Establish objectives with measurable and repeatable results.
L&D can be used to obtain a wide variety of objectives that drive change in an organization, whether the company is facing a market disruption that calls for new skill sets or an organizational shift that requires a change in company culture.
One change in company culture many organizations are still trying to adapt to is the mindset of the millennial worker. Often, millennials don’t feel a great sense of loyalty to a company. Many are focused on finding the best opportunity, even if it means leaving for another job. Because of this, millennials are often referred to as the “job-hopper” generation.
According to Deloitte’s 2015 Millennial Survey, only 28 percent of millennials feel their current organizations are making full use of their skills. To change this mindset and create more invested employees, organizations can create targeted L&D initiatives that nurture a young professional’s growing career and teach new skills. Then, the employee feels a sense of advancement as well as support for future growth. This way, executives can change the job-hopping temptation many millennials may have one to two years into their first job, create devoted employees and avoid the high costs of turnover often associated with millennial hires — anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to two times an annual salary.
Another way L&D can drive change is with long-term skills training focused on capability building. According to a four-year McKinsey & Co. study, the results for which were released in January, while capability building is a highly ranked strategic priority for executives, many companies are still using the same approaches to L&D they used in 2010.
By implementing capability building L&D programs, organizations can ensure continuous improvement in a targeted learning area over time to create a runway for change. Organizations that implement effective capability building are more likely to sustain skills over time and more successfully meet their program targets.
An organizations’ ability to adapt and grow with change can be one of its greatest assets. Examining how L&D programs can support an organizations’ ability to drive change can add to the bottom line. By turning L&D into an essential organizational pillar, change becomes less fearsome and more easily viewed as an opportunity to drive forward to the next level of success.