Learning & Development – A Force Multiplier for Driving Employee Engagement

In today’s globalized world, how do organizations with hundreds of thousands of employees spread across the world maintain that crucial employee connects and engagement? And how do smaller organizations retain and inspire talented employees to stay, in the fierce war for skilled talent, with skills getting reinvented and unsettled faster than ever before?

Human Resource leaders find these to be the single biggest challenge, made even more complex with the increasing presence of demanding millennials in the workforce. Amongst the many approaches leveraged, Learning and Development (L&D) of employees is occupying an increasingly important role in employee engagement strategies.

L&D role in employee engagement

Once the basic factors of compensation are addressed, employees tend to focus on their career growth and how effectively can the organization enable it? Opportunities for meaningful and challenging work are important, especially the millennials. While the nature of work is determined by the business and operating context of the organization, L&D can help employees take charge of their career journey by creating a ‘learning & sharing’ culture within the organization to help them realize their potential.

Realizing employee potential

Employee joins organizations to achieve their own personal goals and dreams, within the context of the business they are part of. L&D can help employees realize their potential by developing innovative learning paths that connect learning needs to learning opportunities, with a focus on using such learning to solve business and technical problems. Learning paths can be quickly curated from existing organizational knowledge and training assets, as well as through structured, outcome oriented skill based learning programs. This cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ approach, hence employees must choose the best-fit learning to meet their desired learning objectives and outcomes.

Sharing to Learn, Learning to Share

An organization is a confluence of agile minds, focused on solving key problems for their customers. Enabling and realizing the might of this collective wisdom can be a huge competitive advantage. A knowledgeable, skilled employee can act as a force multiplier for peers when knowledge is shared and applied at the ‘point-of-application’. Effectively leveraging the collective knowledge pool can help employees learn from each other by sharing hard earned tribal knowledge to solve specific customer challenges. L&D can foster such learning groups and networks within the organization that can share knowledge freely across fuzzy ( and sometimes deeply entrenched ) internal boundaries, in both structured and unstructured ways, thus demolishing these silos that built over time in all organizations.

Technology as an enabler

Many organizations focus on deploying technology as the first strategy to address their L&D needs. Instead, it is more important to develop a customized L&D approach that is tailored to meet the life stage need and resonates effectively with organizational maturity. Deploying expensive LMS systems without fostering a learning culture first will not yield the necessary return on capital, especially for smaller organizations, which may be better off leveraging their size and inherently deeper connects to deliver a more personalized learning experience for employees ( vis-à-vis larger globally distributed organizations, which perforce do not have the advantage of a face-to-face connect unlike their smaller counterparts ). A thought through, well-crafted and designed learning solution that evolves as the organization grows will prevent being saddled with investments that may not be the best fit or scalable enough. A personalized and richer employees L&D experience should be the guiding factor wherever possible and guide technology strategic choices to more opportune decision stages in the organization life stage.

Engaging employees organization wide and creating a learning culture that empowers, builds sharing, fosters trust and helps employee realize their own potential is a powerful force multiplier based on a proactive and forward looking L&D strategy. This will help HR in driving deeper employee engagement as well.