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Why companies must embrace L&D innovations

It was reported earlier this year that around a third of UK businesses make absolutely no investment in learning and development (L&D). It’s a shocking statistic in this day and age. By looking across the market though there are lessons to be learnt from big companies and education that could benefit you if you’re looking to develop a plan for your business or department.

Companies embracing new approaches to learning

The last few years have seen an explosion in new approaches to workplace learning, especially at an enterprise level. Gone are the dry days of dull training sessions with little to no meaning for most workers. Functional training designed for many aspects of health and safety has moved to digital systems, reducing employee time away from being productive and providing companies with the ability to track full take-up and delegate understanding of the subject.

More importantly, companies have started to adopt a programme-focused learning management system (LMS) utilised by large education establishments. They are combining them with agile, high-quality training and development to deliver best-in-class experiences that are enriching the lives of the employee. They often far exceed the quality and range of learning that a university or college can offer. These courses and learning programmes are based on real-life needs and strategic objectives of businesses.

Sky is one such employer that has rolled out this new L&D approach. The media company has overhauled its training programme over the last 18 months, becoming more agile and tapping into the current trend for user-centric learning blended with marketing techniques to ensure employee adoption stays high.

In terms of LMS, increasingly this is being extended from education to employment, offering a school-to-working-life experience. Having employees joining a company that understands a platform on which they can develop their skills and record achievements can be compelling.

Using AI and data to train employees

Of course, the big rush at the moment is to explore artificial intelligence (AI) in the context of L&D platforms. It’s enabling more and more companies to use the analytics and insight generated by the user to deliver personalised learning experiences. These can help to progress them with minimal assistance and at a scale hitherto unknown. However, the current application of true AI in human resources (HR) is still quite small and we’re at the very earliest stages of the transformation.

Katarina Berg, the chief HR officer of Spotify, who spoke to us as part of UNLEASH World in Paris this October, evidences this. Her role is unique in being someone having access to Spotify’s internal systems for audience analytics and comparing these to those on offer for HR. She has shared with UNLEASH how many embryonic systems there actually are within HR.

The critical aspect of designing an L&D programme is that it should deliver value for both the employee and the employer. Learning is best taken on board when it can be put into practice straight away. So within an organisation, when developing plans, you should be taking stock of what aspects you’ll expect to see the employee picking up, or improving in, straight away. L&D programmes should be in alignment with the employee’s long-term personal goals.

Well-structured L&D programmes have consistently shown they can drive up retention, ratings, revenues and return on investment. If you’re one of the 99 per cent of small business in the UK, there’s a wealth of organisations that can support you with free L&D for you and your teams. Many councils support local enterprise with free resources and the Duke of York’s iDEA programme is one example of an excellent tool for self-initiated learning.