How to Create L&D Objectives and Align Them With the Business

objectives for L&D teams

The always-fluid corporate world has been rocked recently by a worldwide pandemic that spawned the “Great Resignation” and created a shortage of workers in nearly every field. As a result, learning and development has suddenly been thrust onto center stage. It has become obvious that learning and development objectives are key business objectives since:

  • Many workers have accepted positions in completely different fields. They need significant training that brings them up to speed quickly.
  • The labor shortage has placed a greater burden on employers to provide attractive work environments. The promise–and delivery–of excellent onboarding and initial training is a key factor in this.
  • Nearly all employees need training to help them adjust to a corporate world where fully-remote workers interact effectively with workers who spend some–or all–of their work time on-site.

Businesses who excel in this new environment will need learning and development objectives that align with overall business objectives while meeting the training needs of employees and satisfying relevant stakeholders. That’s a huge task. Read on to discover:

  • How to identify the key objectives for development and learning.
  • How implementing those objectives fuels your company’s success.
  • Why making the effort is crucial.  

Key learning and development objectives

In a corporate environment where there’s widespread agreement that learning and development play a vital role at both the individual and company levels, what key objectives should L&D professionals highlight? Focusing on these 4 areas provide a solid foundation for the organization today–and into the future:

Assessing what your learning and development needs are

In order to develop worthwhile learning and development goals and objectives, L&D must understand the status quo. 

  • Where do skill and knowledge gaps exist in your firm? 
  • Which employees would benefit from upskilling that would enhance their performance in their current position?
  •  If they completed a re-skilling program, which employees would be more valuable to the company and happier in their careers?

Engaging your learners

The Scottish poet, Robert Burns, nailed it; he understood that even the best-laid plans frequently go awry. In the L&D arena that’s often caused by programs that simply don’t engage your learners. The format’s boring or outdated. The timing’s wrong. The instructor’s mind is distracted. The number of possible “disengagers” boggles the mind.  

What can the learning and development team do to boost learner engagement? One way is to use the 70-20-10 method in which:

  •  70% of learning occurs through on-the-job learning that’s hands-on and immediately relevant. 
  •  20% of learning is collaborative and involves others, such as members of a team or department, a mentor, or an informal group. Collaborative learning lends itself to team-building activities that boost morale and encourage engagement.
  • 10% of learning involves formal training. It may take place in a traditional classroom setting. Increasingly, though, even formal training is personalized to the learner and may include online courses or e-learning options designed to suit a learner’s schedule. Regardless of the format, formal training usually includes measurement techniques such as tests and completion rates. 

Learner engagement is essential. Some argue that lack of learner engagement results in no learning transfer, regardless of the time or money spent on developing and delivering the training.

Linking learning and development objectives to corporate objectives

According to one study, only 40% of companies say they intentionally link their L&D initiatives to corporate objectives. The disconnect between L&D and the executive suite limits the ability of learning professionals to validate the worth of their efforts now. It also robs the company of a valuable opportunity to prepare its workforce for the demands of the future by arming them with leading-edge skills and knowledge. 

One silver lining behind the pandemic and the resulting “Great Migration” seems to be that more L&D professionals have “a seat at the executive table.” According to LinkedIn Learning’s 2022 survey, that number has jumped from 24% in 2020 to 53% in 2022.

Measuring the results

There’s a sense in which going through the effort of planning and executing training programs is moot if you’re not going to measure the results. Other than a sense of “doing right by your employees,” what do you achieve? And really, you can’t be sure you actually did right by them.

If the training was ineffective, you may have cost them–and the company–more value in terms of time and effort than they received.

Evaluating training effectiveness holds the key to validating L&D programs as a whole and to verifying that specific initiatives met their benchmarks. For instance, did training programs:

  • Targeted to bolster sales efforts, help sales staff increase their sales volume overall? Their sales volume per rep?  Did it result in fewer customer complaints?
  • For new employees lower the average time it  took to complete all the onboarding paperwork and training?
  • Geared to help line supervisors train their employees to avoid injury and increase productivity generate any change in those areas?

These very basic examples demonstrate the point: learning and development objectives tied to measurement provide a means to identify whether training is working.    

Implementing L&D objectives fuels corporate success

There’s solid, pay-dirt reasoning for establishing–and then implementing–L&D objectives. The evidence indicates that your brand, your bottom-line, and your employees all benefit. 

Attracting and retaining quality talent 

If you follow college sports, you know that certain schools have a tradition of excelling at certain sports. Their reputation is a strong recruiting tool for the very best talent. Those programs have a competitive edge because they can promise big games, big crowds, and lots of media coverage. 

Similarly, corporations that establish a stellar reputation for training their employees well lay the foundation for attracting top talent. And, here’s something else to consider–according to the LinkedIn report referenced earlier, a whopping 94% of employees will stay where they are if they receive regular training.

Excellent training leads to higher levels of employee satisfaction, and satisfied employees stay put. So, learning and development strategies play an important role in helping you gain a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining talented employees.

Developing and advancing from within the corporation

Well-trained, satisfied employees tend to excel in their roles. That makes them excellent candidates for advancement. When a position opens up in their field, they are prepared. 

Additionally, you know this individual’s track record. You’ve been able to watch their development and track their progress.You also know that they have been well trained. Promoting from within the organization is the logical move–it’s efficient and it limits the risk inherent in hiring someone unknown. 

Internal mobility also saves your company money. According to Centric HR, the average cost to replace a salaried employee ranges from 6-9 months’ salary, when you factor in the cost to recruit, on-board, and train the new employee.

Furthermore, companies that excel at internal mobility rather than external hiring have a retention rate nearly twice as high as companies that don’t. Promoting from within, then, is less expensive, less risky, more efficient, and a strong booster of employee retention.

Creating an environment that improves the brand

When learning and development goals and objectives are implemented well, they create a work environment that helps employees do a lot of little things well. Customers notice. This increases customer satisfaction and promotes customer loyalty. 

Consider how your brand benefits when:

  • Your product defect rate is the lowest in your industry.
  • Your customers consistently leave feedback that praises the quality of your product.
  • Your sales force understands the product or service you provide and can explain this logically, fully, and personably.  
  • Your customer service staff handles complaints efficiently and courteously. 
  • Your employees understand their roles well enough to be able to “think outside the box” and look for innovative ways to improve a situation or explore an opportunity.

Excelling at little things can make a big difference in how customers view your product or service and greatly affect their decision to recommend your company to those in their sphere of influence. 

Fostering a nurturing work culture

Companies that commit to learning and development objectives discover that doing so fosters a work environment where morale flourishes. When that happens, employees are engaged and involved; they feel a sense of inclusion. They also report improved productivity, which leads to cost savings and improves net income.

Making the effort is crucial 

Since L&D objectives fuel a company’s success, it seems logical that virtually all companies would invest significantly in learning initiatives, but they don’t. LinkedIn’s results indicate that 27% of L&D professionals feel that their CEOs aren’t fully committed to learning and development.

L&D success is critical to overall business success because it is:

  • Crucial to employee satisfaction. 
  • Essential for preparing employees to accomplish more and succeed, especially in a topsy-turvy corporate world trying to regain its equilibrium.
  • A key factor in bolstering KPIs such as ROI, market share, and ratio of R&D expenditures to marketable products. 

Companies that expect to thrive, rather than just survive, in these times of massive change must commit to short-term and long-term learning and development objectives.

Leverage technology to help you establish learning and development objectives

Thanks to recent upheaval in the business world, more and more companies realize that learning and development objectives are also part of their key business objectives. If you understand key elements of L&D, you’ll be ready with an answer when someone asks, “What are the main objectives of our training program?” 

That’s a great first step. However, implementing those objectives is the crucial next step that helps your company bolster employee morale, productivity and retention while also improving the corporate brand and contributing to the bottom line. Forward-looking companies understand the link between learning and development objectives and a company that’s laying a foundation of success.  

Cognota’s LearnOps® platform helps you plan, develop, implement, and measure the effectiveness of your learning and development objectives. You’ll get data on training coverage throughout the organization and how you can improve. Get started for free or speak with our sales team to learn more.

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