learning and development

Learning vs. Training: What Is The Difference?

Learn the differences between learning and training and their importance in organizational development. Get insights into how to leverage both in an organization for maximum impact.

Samantha Gross

Mentorship expert at Together

Published on 

April 2, 2024

Updated on 

Time to Read

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The terms "learning" and "training" are often used interchangeably. But in reality "learning" and "training" are two separate roads. These concepts are often tangled up in a big knot, confusing both organizational leaders and individuals.

That’s why clarity on the nuances between these two concepts is important for cultivating a culture of continuous growth and development within any organization.

Understanding this difference is key for HR professionals and business leaders because it helps them meet team needs, address various business goals, and improve employee performance over time.

In simple words, "training" is about transferring or passing on knowledge or information, while "learning" is about absorbing that information to develop skills applicable in various situations.

But what exactly sets them apart?

In this article, we aim to clarify the differences between learning and training, highlight their respective importance in organizational development, and provide insights into how organizations can effectively leverage both to enhance employee performance and achieve strategic objectives.

Learning vs. training: Meaning and differences

The first step is to draw a fine line between learning and training because both offer different pathways to gain skills and knowledge.

Learning involves a broad journey of gaining knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviors that go beyond just specific tasks or job roles.

It takes a whole-picture approach to personal and professional growth, encouraging adaptability, critical thinking, and creativity.

Learning has a long-term focus and prepares you for the future allowing you to use the skills you've acquired in different situations and contexts.

Where training focuses more narrowly on teaching specific skills for certain roles, learning allows for continuous development in various aspects of life, both personal and professional.

Training, on the other hand, is a more targeted approach aimed at equipping individuals with specific competencies or proficiencies required to perform designated tasks or functions effectively.

It operates within a narrower scope compared to learning and focuses on the acquisition of tangible skills or knowledge necessary for immediate application in the workplace.

The reason it is short-term and requires passive engagement from the learner.

Training programs are meticulously designed to address predefined objectives, be it enhancing technical skills, mastering operational procedures, or complying with organizational short-term objectives.

Importance of learning and training in an organization

Organizations benefit from learning and training to stay competitive in the market by equipping employees with the skills and knowledge needed to adapt to changing needs.

A strong learning culture encourages teamwork as employees share their expertise and learn from each other fostering innovation and resilience.

Continuous learning empowers employees to think creatively, challenge norms, and respond swiftly and proactively to market changes. This also helps with their personal and professional development.

On the other hand, training is essential for compliance, increased productivity, and addressing skill gaps within the workforce.

Targeted training programs enable employees to acquire competencies that enhance their job performance.

Having access to training opportunities helps employees improve their job effectiveness leading to job satisfaction and increased productivity.

Overall investing in learning and training programs creates a win-win situation, for both organizations and employees.

A Gallup study shows that organizations that have made a strategic investment in employee development, report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees.

A McKinsey research found that 41% of employees quit their previous jobs due to a lack of career development and advancement.

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Benefits of learning and training

Investing in learning and training programs offers a range of benefits both direct and indirect that ultimately support the growth and success of an organization.

These initiatives help in retaining a workforce and fostering a work environment, which can contribute to lowering employee turnover rates

Direct benefits include:

  1. Improved employee engagement: Engaging employees in learning experiences nurtures a sense of value and dedication to their growth.

This increased engagement results in motivation, productivity, and alignment with objectives.

  1. Enhanced retention: Learning and training programs showcase an organization's dedication to employee advancement and career growth.

    According to Gartner, 93% of employees are eyeing the exit door unless their companies show some commitment to their career growth.

Training and learning opportunities make employees feel valued and content in their positions leading to lower turnover rates and the preservation of knowledge.

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  1. Increased job satisfaction: By offering chances for skill enhancement and career progression learning programs play a crucial role in enhancing job satisfaction levels among employees. 

When individuals receive support for their development they are more inclined to find fulfillment in their work roles and stay committed to the organization.

Indirect benefits include:

  1. Higher performance: Investing in people development has a profound impact on improved performance outcomes. 

Employees who are well-trained and driven tend to perform better. They excel in their positions, produce top-notch work, and play a significant role in the success of the organization.

  1. Increased competitiveness: Organisations that work on the development of their employees always gain an advantage in the market.

    A skilled and knowledgeable workforce allows the organization to innovate and adjust to evolving market needs and surpass its competitors.

  2. Better organizational outcomes: Investing in learning and training initiatives leads to better organizational outcomes across various metrics. From increased efficiency and profitability to enhanced customer satisfaction and brand reputation, the benefits of employee development ripple throughout the organization, driving sustainable growth and success.
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Effective learning and training strategies for implementation

To maximize the impact of workforce development efforts and drive success it is crucial to implement learning and training strategies.

When employees receive training and possess an understanding of their roles they tend to be more productive and motivated leading to increased profitability for the organization.

A critical strategy for success involves aligning learning objectives with business goals and individual development plans.

This alignment ensures that learning outcomes directly support objectives making training initiatives purposeful and impactful.

Conversely, when you align learning goals with individual development plans, this empowers employees to pursue growth opportunities that align with their roles and future career aspirations.

Organizations can leverage learning strategies and techniques to meet the needs and preferences of their workforce.

Here are 4 effective strategies, for implementing learning and training:

1. E-Learning platforms:  Online e-learning platforms provide flexibility and accessibility enabling employees to engage in self-paced learning activities from any location at any time.

These platforms offer an array of courses tailored to skill levels and learning preferences. Many platforms also feature quizzes, tests, and certifications enhancing personalized learning experiences.

Moreover, these platforms often come equipped with tools, for analyzing data and generating reports to monitor the progress of employees.

2. Interactive workshops: Interactive workshops provide a hands-on learning experience that encourages collaboration and skill enhancement.

They create a learning atmosphere where participants can interact with the content ask questions and apply their gained knowledge in practical situations.

Workshops also serve as an opportunity to build connections with peers, mentors, and industry experts. They help participants gain an understanding of the subject matter and hone their problem-solving abilities.

3. On-the-job training: These initiatives allow employees to acquire and refine skills while fulfilling their work duties.

This method promotes learning while making sure that acquired skills directly align with job requirements.

It also helps employees comprehend the company’s protocols and procedures better while fostering relationships with colleagues. Additionally, it nurtures team connection and a shared sense of mission.

4. Mentorship programs: They match employees with professionals who offer guidance, support, and feedback. These mentoring relationships facilitate the transfer of knowledge, skill development, and career advancement, for both mentees and mentors.

Mentorship programs offer employees a chance to connect with colleagues and grasp the nuances of positions and departments.

8 tips for measuring impact and ROI on learning and training strategies

Assessing the effectiveness of learning and training programs helps organizations in optimizing their investments in employee growth.

Organizations can pinpoint areas where their employees are excelling as areas needing additional support.

This enables organizations to customize their training and development strategies to meet the specific needs of their employees ensuring that they are making the best use of their resources.

Nonetheless, this process presents its set of challenges.

One challenge is coming up with metrics that gauge the impact of these efforts, such as test scores, job performance evaluations, and surveys. If done right, organizations can track the long-term effects of these initiatives like shifts in attitudes or behaviors.

Here are 8 tips for measuring impact and ROI on learning and training strategies while overcoming the challenges:

1. Recognize that learning is subjective

Recognize that measuring the impact of learning and training can be subjective. Focus on using metrics whenever feasible to guarantee accuracy and dependability in your evaluations.

2. Allow for a time gap

Acknowledge the time lapse between implementing learning/training initiatives and observing results.

Give your employees time to apply their skills and knowledge in their roles before evaluating how effective they are.

3. Measure soft skills

Soft skills like communication and leadership can be tricky but important. Use self-assessments, feedback from peers, and behavioral observations to find improvements in these areas.

4. Evaluate employee performance 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are one of the best ways to measure the effectiveness of such programs. You must measure changes in employee performance metrics, such as productivity, quality of work, and meeting deadlines, before and after implementing learning/training programs.

5. Track employee engagement

Keep an eye on employee engagement levels by conducting surveys, gathering feedback, and monitoring participation in training activities to pinpoint areas for enhancement.

6. Skill proficiency 

Evaluate skill development by comparing post-assessments to see progress in specific areas targeted by training efforts. When you track post-assessments, you can see which areas have been targeted and which areas have been improved.

7. Justify your investments

Without tracking ROI, it is difficult to determine if learning and development initiatives
are resulting in the desired outcomes. So, justify your investment by tracking your ROI.

For instance, if the ROI on your mentoring program is positive then it justifies continued investments in ths method of employee development to organizational stakeholders.

8. Optimize resources

Once the ROI is tracked, organizations can identify which learning/training programs yield the highest returns and allocate resources more effectively toward those initiatives.

With ROI tracking, organizations can assess the monetary value of the impact of their training initiatives, including the cost of providing the training, the cost of lost productivity, and the cost savings of increased productivity.

Check turnover rates among employees to see if learning programs contribute positively to job satisfaction and retention rates.

Conclusion

Training and learning are like two sides of the same coin, both are essential for the benefit of the organization. When such programs are interesting and valuable, employees enjoy exploring them and learning new things.

They feel more productive and happier making life easier for top management and leaders. The key here is to follow a balanced approach that integrates both learning and training.

Also, leveraging technology to enhance learning experiences further strengthens this approach, ensuring continuous growth and adaptability. This is where Together acts as a game changer for organizations.

Together's mentoring platform leverages technology to empower your organization and drive performance through powerful training and learning experiences.

You can book a FREE demo here.

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