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A Business Guide to an Effective Learning and Development Strategy

The ever-changing world of work is made up of talent shortages, digital complexities, competition, and saturation. Because of this, businesses are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of skilled workers and just how much they impact the growth and development of organisations.

With a multigenerational workforce and digital enhancements around every corner, reskilling, upskilling, and continuous learning are now seen as business critical.

This shows that to keep up to date with these changes, a robust and cohesive learning and development strategy must be in place.

In this blog we’re going to talk more about the benefits of creating a learning and development strategy, as well as some tactics and tips that will help businesses create successful strategies.

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What is a learning and development strategy and why are they important?

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development state that a learning and development strategy should outline how an organisation develops it’s workplaces skills, capabilities and competencies.

These are often based on various frameworks, can follow different formats and should always align with businesses goals and objectives.

A learning and development strategy is said to be critical to the success of any organisation, so much so, 40% of workers are said to have left their roles in the first year due to a lack of training and development.

So, with a unique opportunity to both develop and nurture the future leaders of a company, a learning and development strategy will not only ensure employees remain loyal to their role, but will also make them excited about continuous learning and the thought of excelling further in their careers.

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Five considerations when building an effective L&D strategy

Creating a strategy doesn’t need to be a complicated process but it does require a good amount of research, consultation, and analysis.

1) Clarify all requirements with internal stakeholders

Creating a learning and development strategy suitable for all employees requires input from more than just the L&D and HR departments.

Consulting with various internal stakeholders such as employees and managers will allow for their unique perspective to be included and it will also help to manage their expectations when it comes to the creation and implementation.

Employees – Don’t skim over the insight and input of your employees, after all, they will have a solid idea of the skills and knowledge required to do their roles successfully.

Managers – Managers are good at identifying skill gaps across their teams, so utilise this knowledge and ask for their opinions on what skills and knowledge they deem essential across the organisation.

2) Make sure your strategy aligns with business goals

It’s easy to look at another company, see their success and simply copy exactly what they are doing in terms of their learning and development strategy.

However, although this may be tempting, simply put, no two companies are EXACTLY the same, so what works for one, won’t necessarily work for another.

While it’s completely fine to draw inspiration from other companies (we speak more about this later), it’s important to look at the state of your company, the goals, objectives and needs of the staff, and build a strategy that works to meet these considerations, rather than someone else’s – you will be much better off!

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3) Identify both skill and capability gaps

It’s said by various L&D and HR professionals that companies often shy away from skills and capability assessments and see these gaps in knowledge as a sign of weakness, rather than an opportunity for development.

However, the most effective companies do in fact take a sold, systematic approach to capability and skill assessments, using knowledge to their advantage when developing their strategies. After all, It’s only through knowing the downfalls and what’s lacking in a company that you will be able to improve and develop them.

4) Think about the creation of learning journeys

Learning journeys are described as ‘planned learning experiences that take place over time and includes various learning aspects and experiences using multiple techniques and platforms’.

Learning journeys are commonly developed to support individuals to draw the best conclusions from their learning and development experiances. These journeys create a structured path and ensure learners can achieve the goals and objectives set in place by the organisation.

When planning learning journeys it’s helpful to think about:

  • What method will you use to implement training and development?
  • What tools or platforms will you make available to your staff to undertake training and development?
  • How do each employee/team/department differ?
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5) Measurement and impact

One of the most important factors to consider when building any strategy is how you will measure the impact and success, post implementation.

A good way to know if your strategy has been successful is to have set KPI’s in place, as well as some thought into what evaluation model works best for your company.

A few learning and development metrics to be aware of are:

  • Skills improvement: do you feel like your staff are genuinely holding onto the information they’ve learned, and are able actively speak about their learnings amongst teams and workplaces?

  • Workplace practices: are the learners actively using their new skills and knowledge in their current roles and to do their jobs more effectively and successfully than before?

  • Behaviour changes: are your learners more engaged and motivated within their roles, as well as working more cohesively and efficiently?

  • Are team/department goals being met? Business goals are usually longer term and progress against these can be minimal on the day (however still visible!) but is there a change in either department or team goals since learning, training and development took place?

While depending on the size, complexity and needs of your company, taking inspiration from these five considerations is a solid place to start when developing your learning and development strategy.

If you would like to find out more about a company who developed a strategy that was unique to them, keep reading...

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An example to draw inspiration from

Scottish Water have been presented with a number of challenges over the years including climate crisis, the management of maturing assets and the ongoing commitment to reach their net zero targets by 2045.

In desperate hope of overcoming these issues, Scottish Water developed and executed a learning and development strategy that focused on technical and specialist skills of their more experienced employees, setting out to develop a workforce that was robust, focused and able to adapt to the issues at hand accordingly.

Scottish Water built a Skills Academy and recruited those who had been working at the company for a considerable amount of time and had necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their roles.

With the help of the experienced members of staff, skill gaps were identified and then worked on through mentorship, shadowing and training. The main objective behind the Skills Academy was to utilise the knowledge and skills that existed amongst the company already, and was deemed a great   success due to the reduced amount of burst pipes and interruptions to their customers water supplies.

Scottish Water homed in on their internal subject matter experts and utilised them, this provided new levels of job satisfaction and recognition for these experienced members of staff and additionally made junior employees feel supported and empowered to better themselves within their roles. In addition, appropriate KPI’s were in place resulting in the strategy being easily measured.


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