L&D leaders are under constant pressure to cultivate the talent needed to deliver on business objectives. It’s a task made more complex by the pace at which the global business landscape evolves. Yet, as a Gartner study reports, 60% of the workforce receives irrelevant training, in skills that are of no use to them.
Large-scale employee training that meets these requirements and integrates seamlessly into the corporate environment requires a strategic approach. Enterprise learning can align learning initiatives with business objectives, bridge skill gaps, and foster a culture of continuous professional development.
What is enterprise learning?
Enterprise learning refers to the approach organizations take to facilitate employee learning and development. It involves the design and maintenance of processes, mechanisms, and policies. All of which support acquiring, enhancing, and applying knowledge and skills necessary for enterprise success.
Enterprise learning will be tailored to the specific needs of an organization. However, there are several principles or components all initiatives have in common.
- Strategic alignment: Aligning learning initiatives with overall business goals and objectives.
- Continuous learning: Promoting a culture where employees are encouraged to acquire new skills, adapt to industry trends, and embrace innovation as a part of their daily work.
- Personalized learning: Tailoring learning paths for individuals based on their roles, skills, and career aspirations.
- Knowledge sharing and collaboration: Encouraging employee engagement in sharing knowledge and best practices.
- Technology integration: Enterprise learning management plays a pivotal role in technology integration, leveraging advanced tools to facilitate efficient content delivery, feedback, and insights. This comprehensive approach ensures seamless coordination and optimization of learning resources within organizational frameworks.
- Measurement and evaluation: Continuously evaluating key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the impact of learning initiatives on individuals and the business.
- Agility: Ensuring learning initiatives are flexible enough to adapt to changes in the business environment.
- Consolidation: Maintaining knowledge resources so they are accessible, reusable, and current.
By embracing these components, organizations can create a robust learning strategy to support the business and its employees.
Benefits of enterprise learning
Enterprise learning transcends traditional employee training paradigms. And the learning initiatives produced can have a transformative impact on organizations. So, a well-structured enterprise learning strategy is not just an educational initiative. It can potentially become a dynamic force directing the organization toward excellence, agility, and sustained growth.
1. Enhanced employee performance
Survey Monkey asked 666 employees how they thought training contributed to their performance in the workplace. The results overwhelmingly supported skill development improving their performance (close to 60%). However, employee training also improved respondents' confidence and management of their time.
These self-assessments are supported by a global Gallup study that found organizations to be 17% more productive when employees got the skill development they needed.
2. Adaptability to change
According to the 2023 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, a quarter of all job skill sets have changed since 2015. By 2017, it's expected to be half. Globalization, technology, climate change, and social shifts are conspiring to make our world increasingly unpredictable. Businesses need to be agile and ready to adapt continuously to changing environments. Skills development, therefore, also has to be a continuous process.
Savvy leaders are committing to enterprise learning. In 2022, almost 50% of L&D leaders anticipated bigger budgets for employee training. In 2023, that dropped to just over 40% - still significant. Additionally, L&D leaders are getting increasing exposure at the C-level, with 44-50% working general executive leaders and CPOs, respectively. And 77% say their roles have become more cross-functional in the last year.
3. Employee engagement and retention
LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report discloses that 93% of organizations are concerned about retention. Despite layoffs initiated by organizations in response to post-pandemic circumstances, many are experiencing skills shortages. And critical talent with scarce skills is at high risk of turnover.
Organizations are primarily responding by providing learning and development opportunities to staff. This is because enterprise learning addresses two of the top five employee priorities, according to the report. The priority rated fourth is career opportunities within the organization. (After two years, an employee who has been promoted is 25% more likely to remain.) The fifth was "opportunities to learn and develop new skills."
A forward-looking enterprise learning strategy should involve a plan for staffing critical roles from a pool of internal candidates. This will have the triple advantage of securing the business, saving recruitment costs, and retaining talent.
4. Encourages self-learning
Traditional classroom training isn't enough for adult learners. This old-school methodology may be responsible for the perceived reluctance of employees to attend skill development training. So, HR Dive asked employees what they really wanted their workplace learning to look like.
- 93% want training that is easy to complete and understand
- 91% want training that is personalized and relevant
- 90% want training that is engaging and fun
- 89% of workers want training available anywhere and anytime
- 80% think routine training is more important than singular formal training
Enterprise learning allows learners to take charge of their learning journey. They can learn what is relevant for them at different times and their own pace. It also embraces different approaches to learning, such as mentorship, self-study, and virtual classrooms. Even experiential learning can be captured and measured.
These alternative approaches can often be cheaper for the employer and involve fewer scheduling conflicts. And having employees take ownership of their learning reduces the management burden.
5. Improves organizational efficiency
Studies from Forbes have found that companies investing in enterprise learning see the benefits in their bottom line. Comprehensive employee training programs result in 218% more income per employee and a 24% higher profit margin.
According to Finances Online, fortune 500 companies understand this – nearly half report using learning management systems (LMS) to remain competitive. HR professionals from these companies say it's critical to perform regular skills gap assessments, track KPIs, participate at the C-level, and monitor industry trends.
Why is enterprise learning important?
Enterprise learning stands as a cornerstone for organizational success and adaptability in today's business landscape, from facilitating adaptability to addressing the perennial challenge of employee onboarding, recognizing the diverse needs and aspirations of employees, or even having a profound impact on the organization's collective intelligence.
Enterprise learning is not merely a checkbox in the HR playbook; it is a strategic imperative that underpins the resilience and competitiveness of the modern organization. It transforms employees into agile contributors, fosters a culture of innovation, and ensures that the organization is not just adapting to change but driving it.
Best practices for enterprise learning
Enterprise learning will look different for each organization. However, program leaders should familiarize themselves with the following best practices. Incorporating them will ensure you build an enduring, fit-for-purpose enterprise learning infrastructure.
1. Align with business objectives
Enterprise learning initiatives must be aligned with the organization's short- and long-term business goals. That way, the organization will operate at maximum efficiency, making the best use of its resources daily. At the same time, future operations are secured by a relevant, adaptive talent pipeline. Employees will also be more engaged with learning material if they see a direct correlation between business operations and strategy.
To align learning strategy and content with business objectives, consider the following;
- C-level engagement: L&D leaders need exposure to executives’ thinking and their input and support of learning initiatives.
- Skills gap analyses: Perform regular surveys to uncover where skills gaps lie and adapt learning content accordingly.
- Employee feedback: Seek regular feedback from employees on what skills they need to meet their performance metrics.
- Industry trend analysis: Subscribe to industry bodies, publications, and research bodies to stay ahead of trends that may affect learning requirements.
- Performance data: Use performance metrics such as KPIs to identify employee training needs.
2. Personalized learning paths
Enterprise learning should cater to personalized learning paths that tailor the learning experience to employees' needs, preferences, and goals. This approach recognizes that employees have varying expertise, learning styles, and job responsibilities. It improves motivation and engagement and optimizes the time spent on learning.
To develop personalized learning paths, consider the following:
- Competency framework: Frameworks detail the essential skills and knowledge for specific organizational roles. They can be used to guide personalized learning paths.
- Skills assessment and gap analysis: Understand the current capabilities of your workforce—design learning initiatives to address gaps.
- Manager engagement: Collaborate with employees’ managers to get input and win their support.
- Employee engagement: Seek feedback from employees to align learning with their goals.
- Industry benchmarks: Look for external metrics of success for different roles.
3. Encourage continuous learning
Enterprise learning should be continuous learning to acknowledge the dynamic nature of industries, technologies, and job roles. It ensures employees stay relevant, adaptable, engaged, and innovative. They must develop resilience and remain capable of meeting evolving business challenges.
To ensure continuous learning, consider:
- Strategic alignment: Regular alignment with business objectives will ensure learning initiates are maintained and current.
- Cross-functional collaboration: Inter-departmental friction can be reduced through regular cross-functional input to corporate training initiatives.
- Skills assessment and gap analysis: Understand the current capabilities of your workforce. Adapt learning initiatives to address evolving gaps.
- Performance metrics monitoring: Regular, data-driven monitoring will highlight employee training needs as they appear.
- Industry trend analysis: Subscribe to industry bodies, publications, and research bodies to stay ahead of trends that may affect learning requirements.
- Regulatory and compliance requirements: Ensure learning content is updated for regulations and compliance requirements changes.
4. Employee engagement strategies
Integrating employee engagement into learning practices allows employees to influence their environment. It also potentially offers them cross-functional and cross-level engagement opportunities. Autonomy and relatedness are key human motivators, so this practice will help retain talent, improve team collaboration, and strengthen learning content.
Lean on these employee engagement strategies:
- Interactive content: This will help employees engage more thoroughly with the learning material. Incorporate gamification elements to make learning enjoyable and motivate participation.
- Keeping abreast of technological advancements: Keep content and learning management systems (LMS) abreast of technological advances to maintain employees’ interest.
- Customer-centric skills: For businesses in the service industry, dealing with customers can be hugely stressful or extremely rewarding. Training can make a difference in employee attitudes and engagement.
5. Leadership development programs
Effective leadership is critical to the success of an organization. Succession planning invests in the development of leaders at all levels and will help futureproof the business. Leadership development ensures that individuals in leadership roles have the necessary skills and knowledge to lead teams, problem-solve, and attain organizational goals. It also motivates employees, who can envision a future within the organization.
Leadership development programs can be bolstered by;
- Leadership content: Include material specifically targeting the challenges leaders face: emotional intelligence development, decision-making and problem-solving skills, communication skills, ethics, and strategy.
- Mentoring programs: Build a people-centric culture by matching experienced leaders with potential leadership talent.
6. Measure and evaluate the effectiveness
Assessing the effectiveness of enterprise learning initiatives is critical to provide insights into the impact of learning programs. Executives will want to be able to quantify the ROI and be assured their investment is reaping the rewards. Assist them by;
- Defining KPIs: Identifying and agreeing on key performance metrics will help measure the impact of learning initiatives.
- Systematic assessments: Regularly assess the effectiveness of corporate training programs and make data-driven improvements.
7. Utilize technology
Advances in communications and information technology are at the heart of enterprise learning’s uptake. Leveraging technology for e-learning, virtual classrooms, and interactive content delivery has revolutionized the targeting and measurement of corporate training. Tools like this allow multinational corporations to roll out consistent, relevant, and strategically aligned learning initiatives globally.
First Horizon Bank had been running a mentoring program manually for many years. When the program manager decided to move on, they approached Together. Together’s Mentoring Platform helped grow the program by 25%. Plus, they could add another three programs for high-potential employees – all without replacing the departing employee.
How mentorship helps with enterprise learning
Mentorship and enterprise learning have a symbiotic relationship. Mentees benefit more from mentorship when a culture of continuous learning supports them. Mentorship adds a human element that supports the employee emotionally and contextualizes training content. Both mentors and mentees benefit from meaningful connections while also enriching the organizational culture.
Together’s mentorship platform has been specifically designed to support enterprise learning;
- Personalized learning experiences: Together facilitates personalized learning paths tailored to individual employee needs. Providing targeted guidance and resources ensures a more effective and engaging learning experience, promoting skill acquisition and professional growth.
- Bridging skill gaps: One of the primary challenges in enterprise learning is addressing skill gaps across diverse teams. Together plays a crucial role in identifying and bridging these gaps by connecting employees with mentors with the necessary expertise.
- Enhanced employee engagement: Engagement is critical to successful learning initiatives. Together fosters community and collaboration, creating a supportive environment where employees actively participate in their development, contributing to higher retention rates.
- Data-driven decision-making: Together provides valuable insights through analytics, enabling organizations to measure the impact of mentoring programs. Data-driven decision-making ensures that learning initiatives align with organizational goals, contributing to overall business success.
- Seamless integration with your favorite tools: To maximize effectiveness, Together seamlessly integrates with existing tools you use. This ensures a unified approach to learning and enables organizations to consolidate various learning resources, making the process more efficient and user-friendly.
- Cultivating a learning culture: By promoting mentorship and knowledge-sharing, Together contributes to developing a learning culture within the organization. This cultural shift encourages employees to seek learning opportunities and stay actively abreast of industry advancements.
- Continuous feedback and improvement: Real-time feedback is essential for employee growth. Together facilitates ongoing communication between mentors and mentees, allowing for continuous assessment and refinement of learning strategies to meet evolving business needs.
Enterprise learning trends to follow
Enterprise learning is an evolving arena. While the underlying principles endure, advances in technology and social science are producing novel solutions;
- Rise of personalized learning paths: Enterprise learning systems leverage data analytics to understand individual learning preferences and pace. Adaptive learning platforms that dynamically adjust content to individual performance, learning objectives, and feedback are increasingly evident.
- Integration of AI and machine learning: AI is also being used to forecast future learning needs. This allows organizations to prepare content proactively.
- Holistic employee development: As organizations aspire to become more people-centric, initiatives like mentoring and wellness programs are rising. This is a recognition of the interconnectedness of professional and personal growth.
- Mobile learning and accessibility: Learning content is designed with a responsive, anytime/anywhere approach. Effort is being expended to ensure optimal viewing and interaction experiences, including on mobile devices.
- Microlearning: Content is being redesigned for delivery in “bite-sized,” easily consumable pieces to accommodate shorter attention spans and busy schedules. This facilitates on-the-spot, just-in-time learning that gives employees skills as needed.
- Collaborative and social learning: Organizations are leveraging virtual tools that allow physically remote employees to connect in real-time. And enterprise learning is embracing social platforms supporting peer-to-peer learning. Here, employees can share experiences and knowledge. Together facilitates employee connections, creating a space for knowledge-sharing, peer mentorship, and collaborative problem-solving, aligning with the social learning trend.
Lean on mentoring programs to scale enterprise learning
Enterprise learning can enhance organizational efficiency and agility while improving employee engagement and retention. Best practices advocate alignment with business goals, personalized employee development paths, and leveraging technology to build a continuous learning and development culture. However, new trends, including artificial intelligence and micro-just-in-time learning, are constantly emerging.
Mentorship is critical in enterprise learning, offering mentees emotional and developmental support. The symbiotic relationship between mentoring and enterprise learning acts as a catalyst for organizational success.
At Together, we support your overall employee growth within a positive organizational culture.