Looking to engage and retain your startup employees while preparing them for leadership roles? A recent study by PwC shows that providing adequate learning and development (L&D) opportunities might be a good place to start. The study found that millennials consider “training and development” to be the most important benefit their employer can provide. As the largest workforce generation in the US continues to grow, organizations big and small are starting to shift their L&D perspective from “nice to have” to “need to have.”
With deadlines to meet and another round to close, it’s easy to put off investments with a clear and immediate ROI. Don’t fall into this trap. Investing in L&D reduces employee churn and helps prepare these employees to move into leadership roles quickly. The latter will be especially important when your company starts to take off and there’s sudden pressure to scale the business. Regardless of industry or the demographic of your team, an engaged employee is a critical component of any business, and it’s time for startups to embrace L&D to make it happen.
Here are five ideas to help you get started establishing a L&D strategy at your business to help your team grow and adapt faster:
1. Clarify your learning objectives
Before you begin investing in your startup’s learning and development strategy, think through the outcomes you’re hoping to accomplish. After all, you steer a lean ship and need to maximize your investment. Are you hoping to reduce employee churn? Increase project turnaround? Minimize client turnover? Align these goals with the skills your team will need to develop to meet them.
2. Conduct a skills analysis
Now that you have a clear idea of the goals you’re hoping to achieve, determine where the skill gaps are. This can be accomplished through employee surveys, assessments, or simple observation. If you are implementing L&D with the sole purpose of keeping your team engaged, asking each member what they would like to learn can allow for active participation and ownership. This can also help you identify the performance issues lying beneath the surface.
3. Look to your internal team
Whenever possible, use your connections to identify outside thought leaders, speakers, and experts to join your team for a lunch and learn. If you don’t have the resources to bring in outside expertise consistently, look within. Not only will turning to your employees save you money, it will also give them a chance to flex their presentation skills.
4. Don’t forget about soft skills
Did you know that mastering soft skills can account for 75% of long term job success? In a business environment where things change fast, you must arm your team with skills to help them adapt and thrive under a variety of situations. While technical skills are important for getting the job done, it’s the training of soft skills like communication, empathy, and listening that have been shown to deliver the highest return on investment.
5. Choose one day a week
Commit to one day of the week that will serve as your startup’s official day of learning. For example, every Wednesday, bring your team together for an open discussion to share one thing each member learned that week. Or, dedicate Monday mornings to micro-learning moments, round robining the preparation and presentation duties.
What is an L&D strategy?
An L&D (Learning & Development) strategy is a comprehensive plan for improving the skills, knowledge, and performance of employees in an organization. It outlines the organization’s goals for employee training and development and the methods by which these goals will be achieved. An effective L&D strategy takes into account the current and future needs of the business and its employees, aligns with the organization’s overall strategy and culture, and is regularly reviewed and updated to ensure its ongoing effectiveness.
How do you create an L&D strategy?
To create an effective L&D strategy, follow these steps:
- Assess current skills and competencies: Conduct a thorough analysis of the current skills and competencies of employees, as well as the future skills the organization will need.
- Identify goals: Based on the assessment, identify specific goals for employee training and development, aligned with the organization’s overall strategy.
- Determine budget and resources: Determine the budget and resources available for L&D activities and allocate them to support the goals identified.
- Evaluate existing programs: Evaluate existing training programs to see if they are still relevant and effective, and make changes as needed.
- Develop a mix of programs: Develop a mix of training programs that includes both formal and informal learning opportunities, as well as online and offline learning.
- Encourage employee involvement: Encourage employee involvement in the L&D process, such as through surveys and suggestion boxes.
- Implement and monitor: Implement the L&D strategy and monitor its effectiveness through regular evaluations and feedback from employees and managers.
- Continuously review and improve: Continuously review and improve the L&D strategy to ensure it stays relevant and effective in supporting the organization’s goals and the needs of its employees.
What are the benefits of implementing an L&D program in a startup?
- Increased employee engagement and job satisfaction
- Improved productivity and performance
- Increased retention of top talent
- Enhanced competitiveness and ability to attract new talent
- Development of a learning culture that supports growth and innovation.
How do I measure the success of an L&D program?
The following trends are common indicators of a successful L&D strategy:
- Increased employee satisfaction and engagement levels, as measured through regular surveys and feedback
- Improved employee performance and productivity, as measured through regular performance evaluations
- Increased uptake and participation in L&D programs
- Feedback from managers and employees on the impact of the L&D program on their skills and development
What role should managers play in supporting L&D programs?
Managers should be active supporters and champions of the L&D program and encourage their team members to participate. They should provide regular feedback and support for employees and help them apply L&D strategies to their job. Managers should also ensure that L&D programs are aligned with the needs of the team and overall business strategy.
How can I encourage employees to participate in an L&D program?
- Make L&D opportunities easily accessible
- Offer incentives for participation
- Offer a mix of programs that cater to different learning styles and preferences
- Foster a culture of continuous learning
- Provide opportunities for employees to share their learning experiences and insights with their peers
Want more inspiration? See how these leading tech companies are leveraging L&D.