Learning and Development (L&D) has been turned on its head in the last three years. Historic highs of unemployment during the COVID-19 pandemic, the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work, and the Great Resignation are factors increasing the need for L&D to move with the wave of change.
While HR leaders understand how important L&D programs are to their people’s success, leadership teams aren’t always on the same page. More than 54% of HR professionals surveyed for a 2021 Workplace Learning Trends Report say that leadership often sees L&D as a cost, not an investment. This mentality can put L&D programs at risk as organizations adjust budgets in light of more modest revenue forecasts.
To protect your L&D budget, your team needs to reposition its programs as a mission-critical investment instead of a nice-to-have benefit. The best way to ensure your people continue to get the support they need to thrive is to define concrete learning outcomes that align with your organization’s most pressing goals.
What Do You Want to Achieve with Your L&D Program?
Once you’ve positioned L&D as a critical support mechanism for your organization's top priorities and initiatives, the next step is to evaluate your programs and define concrete learning objectives that ladder up to those broader goals. The following questions can help you develop a clear list of outcomes for your training and coaching programs:
- What do you want your people to learn or be able to do as a result of a training investment?
- How do these identified skillset gaps help progress your business objectives?
- How will you identify programs to help your people achieve those specific outcomes?
- How will you measure success and impact to report back to leaders?
Based on the answers to those questions, the programs you have in place currently may or may not be the right fit. The current programs may also need to align with ongoing budget constraints. This is where you have to be flexible with your L&D programming. Cutting doesn’t have to mean all or nothing. If you need to pivot your L&D plans, you can tailor programs to provide the most value and support your people’s most pressing needs to maintain budget efficiency.
In addition to content changes, you may also need to explore alternative delivery mechanisms to support your L&D programs. Having technology that delivers learning content to people in different locations is a must-have to support today’s distributed workforce—but for an outcome-driven program, it’s not enough. You also need technology that supports tailored learning objectives for your teams' specific needs, provides accountability measures that help people achieve those learning outcomes, and offers customizable reporting that you can use to show progress and impact to your leadership team.
Build Programs that Align with Business Objectives for Success
L&D leaders have a massive opportunity to build programs with lasting impact for their organizations. People are hungry for opportunities to learn and grow—and executives are looking for ways to improve performance against key organizational goals, particularly when financial outlooks remain uncertain. You can better serve your people and your organization by investing in high-impact, outcome-focused programs that move your most important goals forward.