It’s no question that a strong learning and development (L&D) program is essential for any Culture First company. In addition to building a more skilled workforce, L&D opportunities are strongly linked to higher employee engagement levels and employee retention rates. Not to mention that our research also found that the top differentiating factors when it comes to the most competitive companies are leadership, teamwork, and L&D.
However, not all programs are created equal. The last thing you want to do is invest your dollars into initiatives that your employees aren’t interested in doing or don’t gain value from. To help guide you in the right direction, we highlighted three companies and their approaches to L&D.
One of the company values at Blueboard, an employee recognition platform focused on experiential rewards, is to “Set Ourselves Up for Success.” According to Morgan Chaney, Head of Marketing, this means putting the right resources, training, and tools in place for their employees to be successful.
“That’s why L&D is a big focus at Blueboard, and it’s driven from the top by both co-founders who are voracious readers and embrace a growth mindset in their work and personal lives,” says Morgan.
To demonstrate its dedication to employee growth and self-improvement, the company rolled out a $1,000 use it or lose it L&D budget per employee last year - a program they’ve seen positive results from already.
“This has been a great benefit for employees to tap into for conferences, leadership coaching, Toastmasters courses, and other online classes to grow in their current roles. As the program builds, more and more Blueboarders are sharing what they’ve been using the budget for and how it’s helping them to tackle their current career goals. Our leadership team will often shout out cool L&D budget requests during team meetings to build awareness of how employees are using the funds to inspire others.”
Takeaways from Blueboard’s approach to learning and development:
Tip #1: Use your L&D program as an opportunity to set your employees up for success
Tip #2: Gain leadership support to boost engagement in your program
Tip #3: Build excitement by encouraging employees to share how they used their budget
If Blueboard sounds like the type of company you want to work for, you’re in luck! They’re looking to hire their first Head of People to help them scale their culture as the company grows. You can apply for this position on our Career Hub.
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It’s no surprise that the employees who thrive at LifeLabs Learning, a company that provides training to companies worldwide, are the ones who are hungry for knowledge, crave feedback, and are willing to help others grow by sharing expertise. Not only is this mindset reflected in the organization’s core value to “Always be Learning,” but Megan Wheeler, Director of People Operations, also explains that all LifeLabs Learning employees (also known as Labmates) experience this value from Day One.
“Our commitment to learning starts at onboarding, where employees receive a learning plan and ongoing feedback. They’re also matched up with their coach, so they can create a personal growth plan. And they are introduced to all our learning and development resources. Plus, all Labmates can take as many LifeLabs workshops as they want - on topics like Feedback, Strategic Thinking, and Prioritization.”
In addition to their internal Coaching Program, where every employee has a coach to help them focus on their growth and fulfillment, one of Megan’s favorite L&D initiatives is called the Expert Track. In this program, employees select an area they care deeply about, such as engagement, performance reviews, diversity and inclusion, etc. then get dedicated support to develop their expertise.
Because of LifeLab Learning’s commitment to L&D, the company also dedicates significant resources to measuring the success of their programs. Megan says that, in addition to piloting all initiatives before launching them, they also collect qualitative and quantitative feedback for each, include development questions in our bi-annual survey, elicit feedback in listening tours, do pre/post training confidence tests, shadow one another, and provide self-assessment tools.
“We believe the workplace is the greatest dojo for mastering life’s most useful skills. We treat every project, goal, challenge, and interaction as an opportunity to practice and learn. Each of our programs is an experiment. We want to help our team grow, and we want discover the most best ways to create a deliberately developmental culture for ourselves and our clients. That means we do a lot of measuring!”
Takeaways from LifeLabs Learning’s approach to learning and development:
Tip #1: Make the commitment to L&D clear from Day One
Tip #2: Give employees the flexibility to choose the area they want to grow in
Tip #3: Measure the success and impact of your programs
If you’re as passionate about L&D as the team at LifeLabs Learning is, apply for their Program Consultant position on our Career Hub to be an advisor to clients about programs that meet their needs. It's an amazing opportunity to bring life's most useful skills to even more companies.
At Culture Amp, we genuinely believe in the power of L&D. That’s why, when we first launched our program, we wanted to look beyond the traditional structure and decided on a more unique, two-pronged approach instead.
First, every one of employee has access to a professional coach through the Coaching for Everyone program. Employees are provided with sessions at 6, 12 and 24 months, and they can choose from a variety of services from our network of coaches to work toward either personal or professional goals.
Our second L&D initiative is our Learn Yourself Up program. We allocate a budget on a quarterly basis - currently $15,000 - to be used by the entire company. Anyone in the company can put themselves through any training - without approval - by signing up through a shared spreadsheet, and then pay a small co-contribution to reinforce the idea that training is inherently valuable and not just a free perk of working at Culture Amp. The learning doesn’t have to be work related - the budget can go toward cooking classes, learning how to balance a household, or taking a floral arrangement workshop.
“The idea that the training doesn’t have to be directly related to your job may be a bit hard to swallow for people who have come from a traditional work-is-work and leisure-is-leisure background. But we’ve found the holistic approach works and the concept of wellness as an overarching outcome gets better results,” says our CEO, Didier Elzinga.
Takeaways from Culture Amp’s approach to learning and development:
Tip #1: Allow opportunities for growth both inside and outside work
Tip #2: Find a way to make your program feel like a value add vs. a free perk
Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to approach L&D unconventionally
Interested in joining our team? Apply for our People Partner role on Career Hub to help us deliver on global people practices with a culture first approach, and offer strategic, value-add counsel to our Customer group on all talent-related matters.
Whether you’re launching a learning and development program for the first time or have been running yours for years, we hope this post gives you fresh ideas to work with this year.