Spring is more than a new season, it’s a time of renewal. Days are longer, flowers are beginning to bloom, and the air is filled with the sound of birds chirping. Opportunities are sprouting all around us. As we anticipate the growth and rejuvenation that comes with spring, businesses are looking forward to brighter days and fresh starts too! It was a long, cold winter, wasn’t it?
The excitement of spring in the air had me thinking about the different ways organizations could take advantage of this time of growth. Learning has a tendency to get a bad rap; a requirement organizations must check off to maintain compliance, keep up with certifications and quickly onboard new hires. Those learning activities, while important, are only a fraction of the equation. In order for employees to continue to learn, grow and develop, their minds need to be nourished and their skills sharpened. In order to grow, we must keep learning.
Often learning professional’s biggest struggle is getting leadership buy-in. Learning has the reputation of being a waste of time. Time employees could have been spent doing their job, contributing to projects and working with customers.
So, how can learning teams transform learning and development, in the minds of executives, into an asset, a catalyst to move the organization in a more positive direction? Organizations must learn from past seasons of slow and dismal growth and move into a new season full of fresh and smart changes.
Think of spring as an opportunity to refocus your learning initiatives and demonstrate how learning can impact critical business outcomes that sustains innovation and drives future organizational growth.
Here are three spring-themed best practices to jump-start learning initiatives for the second half of the year, and execute effective training programs with positive results:
- Go Green – If you are only using your learning management system (LMS) to administer and manage classes, you are probably not utilizing all of its functions. Now is the time to go green and use your LMS for everything it has to offer, like social, tracking, documentation and reporting. There are so many organizations that are not taking full advantage of the capabilities of their LMS. Only 59% of L&D organizations admit they have trouble connecting learning to business outcomes, and 22% of L&D organizations rarely or never track progress towards strategic initiatives. By streamlining specific functions and showing strategic uses for a LMS, your organization will be in a better position in the future. This spring I challenge you to make it a priority to set some goals in place to start going green.
- Blossom –Training is often geared toward one specific job or job group, for example onboarding seasonal hires in a call center. You need to get them up and running as quickly as possible so they can tend to the needs of the customers. But, learning opportunities in your organization are plentiful and reach far beyond basic training needs. Now is the time for your organization to look past one-off learning activities and requirements and examine how different roles and departments can benefit from ongoing development. Investing in employees’ development not only benefits your bottom line and productivity rates, it demonstrates an honest commitment to their careers and future.
- Get your hands dirty – Smart learning organizations need to reprioritize and rethink the way employee development programs are being delivered and communicated across the organization. Shut down the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality and start thinking about how you can get your hands dirty and change things up. Think about new and different ways to start marketing your LMS, perhaps you could leverage email marketing techniques to communicate new courses and drive demand for learning. Gamification is also another way to drum up excitement around learning. You could create a learning leader board and reward employees for completing activities. Surveys are also a great tool to get feedback about your learning offerings. Ask your employees what they want from learning and development. Not just the course content, but also how it’s delivered. These are just a few ideas on how to shake things up! Figure out what works best for you and give it a go.
Like spring flowers, employees want their careers to bloom. They want to sharpen and expand their skills and a strong learning program, rooted in a robust LMS, will provide an opportunity to keep your workforce engaged and focused on clearly aligned goals.
Now is the time for organizations to and realize how valuable programs like a training program will directly impact employees is the key to long-term business survival.
Happy spring and happy learning!