Leveraging L&D for Employee Engagement

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The debate has ensued over years – should Learning & Development be leveraged to engage employees or engaged employees are more likely to focus on their learning & development.

For long, learning & development initiatives have been reduced to topical events. And no matter how much effort is made, it does not necessarily yield the result of engaged employees. Add to this the dimension of ROI, and we start treating L&D as money spent (some will politely say, invested) with the myopic goal of what the return on it will be. We continue to be trapped in the “people are an asset” misnomer. An important and much often ignored consideration is why organizations should offer robust learning & development structures and initiatives. Needless to say, the answer to this question would determine the path pursued.

Learning & development to me is about a culture – does the organization create an environment where employees learn and enhance their skills and knowledge. One of the best ways to describe this is through the 70-20-10 model (courtesy: CCL) which aptly states that 70% of the learning happens on the job, 20% through sharing of ideas, networking, finding solutions, decision making and (a mere) 10% through instructor-led interventions. Unfortunately, what has been prevalent in organizations is the unwarranted focus on the 10% – the biggest fallacy of our times. L&D is not a “separate” initiative – this has to be an all-pervasive culture which provides opportunities to employees to learn through all aspects of their jobs. The 10% alone cannot create engagement – it is the ecosystem that creates engagement.

From an individual’s perspective – learning is a mindset.  Human beings learn from interactions, experiences etc. The trouble here is that these forms of learning are neither apparent nor offered consciously. How engaged employees are  a factor of the experience they have and how they are included in the organization’s journey. This is corroborated by the findings of Daniel Pink on what really motivates people:

  1. Autonomy how much control one has over the job they do. A key factor here would be sense of empowerment.
  2. Mastery the opportunity to enhance one’s knowledge and skills.
  3. Purpose alignment of an individual’s contribution to the larger purpose, mission & vision.

Employee engagement is an outcome of how employees are made to feel. Learning & development cannot be a mere function in organizations. What is more important is that the organization is steered towards becoming a “learning organization” (Peter Senge) – an organization that enables and enriches its people through a culture that supports learning & development.

Advice to the L&D fraternity: ensure that all L&D initiatives enable alignment of individuals’ personal aspiration with the mission & vision (not just profits) of the organization to create
long-term engagement and loyalty among employees.

Author- Aditi Malik is a Facilitator and Executive Coach. She specializes in the Skills and Behavioural domains with large organizations and their Leaders across India and the Australasia Region. She is Founder & Director of Arohan Talent Solutions Pvt. Ltd

 

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