19 September 2018

10 ways to L&D success

Struggling with L&D, or trying to create a culture of learning in your organisation?  Here are 10 tips for effective learning and talent development.


Albert Einstein famously said “Once you stop learning, you start dying”. Learning makes us happy because it feels purposeful and worthwhile.

Ranstad recently surveyed 11,000 Americans and found that the number one reason people leave their jobs is lack of career path. Having a development plan is one of the top attributes millennials look for while applying for a new role. Having learning and development (L&D) in your organisation, no matter what size, will make it more likely your staff will stay longer.

L&D is evolving at a rapid rate. Careers now develop in all directions, we aren’t just upskilling, we’re re-skilling, several times over. Software developers have to retrain at least every 12 months and careers themselves are a constant learning journey.

Deloitte’s L&D report surveyed more than 10,000 HR and business leaders in 140 countries and the key findings were based around technology. The whole of the HR department is leaning towards digital including dashboard and platforms, online learning and people analytics to ‘cognitive technology’ and those who don’t join the ‘need it now’ culture will be left behind.

eLearning can take place in 40 to 60% less time than old learning methods, so we’re shifting away from the one-hit wonder days of the classroom (despite LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning report seeing an increase since last year in instructor-led training). We’re now seeing mobile learning and chatbots, virtual reality and gamification. But is this shift actually increasing learning retention? Previous research tells us that after 6 days we have already forgotten 75% of what we have learnt (known as ‘the forgetting curve’). Have we simply transferred this problem from verbal to the digital? Not exactly.

Find what’s working

According to Forrester Research, employees are 75% more likely to watch a video than to read documents, emails or web articles and studies have shown that video along with text are 9% more effective than text alone when participants are tested right away and an impressive 83% more effective when the tests are delayed. This demonstrates the need to measure what is, and isn’t working for your employees.

With employee experience, like customer experience, the L&D ‘70-20-10’ rule comes to mind. Research shows we are more productive when part of a team and even more so when it feels purposeful – so think about what learning experiences you can create. Tech giant Philips believes in helping people get out of the office to support learning. Senior Digital Marketing Manager Grant Williams says, “I’m able to travel around the globe, meet with teams in person, and actually work out certain issues or challenges. It’s usually in those scenarios where the most learning happens.”

It’s not just what you do but how you do it

What and how we communicate is important. It needs to be relevant and timely to the individual. We are more likely to engage in something if it’s personal and we get feedback as we go. Social channels can carry the legwork and champions can help lead the norm in nudging people along the way. Think about segmenting your audience to those who are least engaged to the most engaged in their learning and communicate why it’s important to them.

Yes, we have new technology, and this is propelled by the fact we are working out of the office more and more. One recent research study from Kalido suggests up to half of workers will be freelance by 2020. We must remember we are social animals and research shows that we learn more from others’ mistakes and we engage more when we trust the person and they are similar to us so we need others around.

Whilst talent developers are relying more on digital for self-learning, their number one priority for 2018 is training for soft skills. The top 4 soft skills in order of priority are leadership, communication, collaboration and role specific. Executives rate identifying trends to prevent internal skill gaps as the second most important areas of focus for L&D.

Here are 10 highlights on learning and talent development effectiveness and engagement:

  1. Teach Soft-skills – whilst we have the tech, people also need to know the most effective way of communicating.
  2. Involve managers – they can be the example and help to inspire, drive and encourage people to focus on their development.
  3. Micro-learning – participant attention spans are highest initially but then start declining after 10-15 minutes. Microlearning utilises this and supports the ability to feed bite size information which is generally 2-5 minutes long.
  4. Little and often – the more we are given pieces of learning that relate to each other the better. We make associations by retrieving this more regularly and this helps to embed the learning.
  5. Make it easy – the way information is presented influences how easy it is for our brains to process it. This might sound obvious but the obvious is often overlooked!
  6. Get the timing right – think about the right time to discuss and deploy learning.
  7. Minimise distraction – multi-tasking is a myth and we only have so much attentional energy in one day so free up as many mental resources as possible for a learning task.
  8. Build accountability and feedback – we are far more likely to engage in learning if we know we are going to be asked about it as well as our chance to talk about it.
  9. Make it purposeful – Qlik in the US run a 24-for-U program which gives one day off a year for employees to explore any learning they choose. One employee attached it to their corporate responsibility program, heading to Argentina to help install a computer in an orphanage.
  10. Give back – Unilever run a Tuition Reimbursement Program which means employees can choose from a variety of different disciplines including management, coaching, entrepreneurship and business to fund the furthering of their career.

Once you’ve adopted these ways of learning, how will you know it has worked?

L&D teams will see higher levels of accountability to produce evidence for the impact their solutions have had. Whilst we can ask people through surveys, we also need to measure what they do. Productivity, creativity and customer experience are great measures to have in place to correlate back to the effectiveness learning and development has had.

Hopefully you’ve learnt something and if you can’t recall all of it, break it down, share it and come back to it again.

For further reading see the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report.

Similar Articles

30 September 2021

We’re celebrating National Inclusion Week but there’s still much to do

There’s a spotlight on D, E and I like never before and while the importance…


1 April 2021

Back to the (re-designed) office

Millions of us are getting ready to go back to the office in the coming…


9 February 2021

Covid and vaccine comms: Nudging from the outside-in

Since the pandemic began, I’ve been keenly aware of the opportunities for behavioural science to…


4 August 2020

Infographic: Countdown to a safe workplace return