Whether you’re an employer or an employee, learning and development matters. On the hiring side, the skills shortage within the workforce remains an ongoing concern: 73% of organisations surveyed for the 2023 Business Barometer report indicated gaps.
Employees are equally anxious to upskill. Recent research from Docebo found that an overwhelming 80% of European employees want to work for employers that prioritise continuous L&D.
Why L&D is so important now
Two essential factors are feeding into this hunger for training. The first is Ai. Ever-more sophisticated technologies are eradicating old forms of employment, and many roles in the digital era will rely on an increasingly refined skill set. These include:
- Data literacy
- Critical thinking
- Interpersonal communication skills
- Leadership skills
Forward-thinking employees are keen to master these skills, with forward-thinking L&D teams already looking to enhance them. But that’s not the only prompt to upskill.
The second factor has its roots 16 years in the past – when the 2007 financial crisis triggered what became known as the Great Recession.
The Jobs Economist consultancy reported that in the years following the financial crash, one in seven UK employees lost their jobs. Mid-wage earners – a group that includes middle managers - were some of the people hit hardest.
Why does that matter now? It matters because middle managers are integral to business success. They’re the people who have the most significant impact on team motivation, innovation, and growth. This makes them a vital link in the talent pipeline.
Middle managers are the people most likely to step up to become senior executives. They’re also the people who are best placed to teach their teams vital skills day-to-day.
So, sixteen years ago, when middle management was hollowed out, there was a snap in the skill line. Fewer people were being primed to step up into leadership roles. Fewer people were developing the upcoming talent.
The impact of that is still being felt. And when the pandemic hit in 2019, it intensified the problem. Older, experienced employees left the workplace. Remote working disrupted ‘learning on the job' opportunities.
This twin problem – AI and the breaks in the learning pipeline – has led to the skills shortage that makes L&D a critical topic today. And that’s why creating (and shouting about) a firm L&D offer is a simple way for an organisation to attract positive attention.
Both internally and externally, it communicates that you are an organisation that invests in its people and that you care about their growth and long-term opportunities. So, how do you maximise that communication to ensure it gets the best results?
There are three critical things to consider about communicating L&D. They are:
- The need for an omnichannel approach
- Building in ongoing comms
The need for an omnichannel approach
There’s a long-term debate about how much of an impact learning style has on the effectiveness of teaching and learning. But we all know our preferred learning methods, be it visually, collaboratively, kinetically, etc. Many organisations are investing substantial time and money into understanding the personality traits of everyone in their organisation through tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.
Understanding the different learning and communication styles will ensure your efforts are well spent. Some people lean towards in-person learning and discussion, while others lean towards technology-based learning and interaction.
These varied preferences affect the L&D programmes you create and how you communicate them. While it’s tempting to create a one-size-fits-all learning programme – for example, either running training workshops or creating Masterclass videos – the best return comes when you offer employees a choice about their learning opportunities. By providing both face-to-face and self-directed training, you meet the needs of all employees.
If you run a workshop or in-person training session, you can record it – or distil it into clear takeaways - to create evergreen content for employees. Conversely, if you create online training resources, you can shape in-person discussion groups around those resources so that those employees who learn best in a group setting can benefit.
This is all about thinking broadly about capturing every cohort with the resources you produce. It should also be reflected in an omnichannel approach to communicating your offer: one that utilises every channel, from people managers to social media posts.
In effect, offering choice to employees is a powerful form of personalisation. It acknowledges that people are different and like to learn in different ways. That engagement with the individual is one of today’s most crucial workplace trends: strongly supporting talent attraction and retention.
To further that personalisation, effective L&D involves:
- Creating career maps to show the different pathways across your organisation
- Working with employees to identify where they are on that map and where they would like their career to take them
- Linking individuals’ learning to their career aspirations as well as to the current and future needs of the business
This personal approach should be echoed in your communications, which should speak directly to the individual, use a friendly, conversational tone, and identify how the training meets fundamental career aspirations.
Building in ongoing comms
The final critical consideration is the regularity of your L&D communications and making them relevant to your people. If you are creating new resources, these need to be clearly celebrated and signposted. But the perennial nature of L&D means that there need to be regular reminders about:
- What you offer
- How to access it
- How each component of the programme supports the individual to enrich their skills
- And how those skills map against the requirements of different organisational roles and functions
This keeps your L&D offer at the forefront of employees’ minds. By weaving L&D into your other employee communications, you start to join the dots across the employee experience, allowing a culture of continuous improvement.
For example, connect your purpose, employee performance, and other initiatives to L&D so that your people understand the importance of their learning and development to support their careers and the broader business objectives.
At Caburn Hope, we’re experts in colleague engagement. If you want us to support your learning and development drive – or any other aspect of internal communication – get in touch!