March 14, 2018

5 Tips to Implement an L&D Program at Your Startup

Looking to engage and retain your startup employees? A recent study by PwC shows that providing adequate L&D (learning and development) 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 an L&D program 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 program, 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Want more inspiration? See how these leading tech companies are leveraging L&D.

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