How to Overcome Employee Learning and Development Challenges in the Workplace

People are what make and break an organization. That’s why it is a no brainer that, employee learning and development has become the major focus of investment for HR professionals in 2019. Creating an ongoing learning environment is also the key to higher employee engagement, retention, and motivation. LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report shows that 93% of employees stated they would stay at their company long-term if it invested in their careers. Another LinkedIn study highlights that the opportunity for development is the second most important factor for workplace happiness (just after the work itself!).

Yet despite how important and effective learning and development initiatives are for both employees and companies, they face some major challenges. Add in the increasing variety of roles, technical capabilities, and interpersonal skill sets of the workforce in today’s businesses, creating a sustainable and meaningful learning environment to cater to everyone is no piece of cake – especially when the organisation is also diverse and global.

At this point, building a coaching culture comes to the rescue by creating an environment suited for a great deal of learning and development in organisations – with the support of digital tools. A successful coaching culture not only supports learning and development initiatives, but it also improves employee engagement, increases productivity, and helps revenue growth – we’ll cover those benefits later in another article.

Retention is 25% higher with employees who are engaged in company-sponsored mentoring.

Coaching can address 80% of routine obstacles in less than 20 minutes, as opposed to other forms of management

Organisations with strong coaching cultures report revenue growth above their industry peer group (51% compared to 38%). (Human Capital Institute and the International Coach Federation

Here are the five common learning and development challenges (and some misbeliefs) — and how implementing a coaching culture through technology can help to overcome them.

1 – Budget Allocation

Many HR professionals face the challenge of getting the attention and relatedly, the budget share that employee development and training programs deserve. There are two main reasons for this:

a-  HR professionals need to gather concrete metrics and deliver tangible results about the effectiveness of a learning and development program. However, mostly, with traditional training programs, they can’t clearly show the return on investment (ROI) to their superiors.

b –  There is also a misconception of needing a high budget in order to implement an efficient learning culture or training/coaching to a large number of employees. This is correct to a certain extent with conventional coaching and learning programs.

Solution: Digital coaching allows HR managers to measure and interpret data for actionable insights. It makes it possible to identify and track coaching ROI through tangible reports. As opposed to traditional coaching, digital coaching is also adaptable to large-scale businesses requiring lower budgets, allowing them to personalise coaching conversations without overspending.

2 – Coordinating All Employees’ Schedules

Another common challenge for both HR managers and employees is simply finding a mutual time (or any time) for learning and development programs. These programs are considered to be getting in the way of valuable work time and, most importantly, providing a comprehensive program would require a great deal of coordination with conventional approaches.

Additionally, everybody’s learning times and motivations differ. Recent LinkedIn research states that 68% of employees prefer to learn at work, 58% prefer to learn at their own pace, and 49% prefer to learn at the point of need. So, scheduling a specific timeframe for a large audience is almost impossible.

Solution: Digital coaching enables employee learning or development according to their own schedule and gives them the flexibility to prioritise their important tasks. They can devote time in the proportions they want (half an hour after work, etc.) and slot it in depending on what best fits their schedule. And of course, they can access the tools from wherever they are.

3 – The Framework is Unclear and Complicated

With old-school methods, the path to success is quite unclear. This is mainly because the trainees or coachees don’t know exactly how to prepare or what to expect beforehand, what content to use and internalise during the program, and how to proceed further after the program ends.

Solution: Effective coaching programs and learning tools align employee needs with business objectives through conversations and build a clear path. In this context, digital coaching allows employees access to information and training materials ahead of their coaching/training sessions. This allows employees to be able to see the big picture beforehand, address issues, give feedback, and take action.

4 – The Workforce Isn’t Engaged

Ensuring that employees are engaged in cognitive, emotional, and behavioural levels is one of the biggest challenges that HR professionals face. The root cause of this is that employees either don’t understand the objectives of the program or are disinterested in the program. Furthermore, most learning and development programs are generic and, as a result, not internalised by employees or found to be relevant.

Solution: An effective approach to ensuring engagement is to help the employee to understand that learning is for their personal development and career growth, but that it also has a significant effect on the success of the organisation. Remind employees that they are an important asset and add their own unique value to a company – by working towards the common goal of the organisation. So, don’t force employee development, simply inspire it.

However, the emotional investment of employees isn’t enough to keep them engaged. It is important to provide them with personalised and relevant content according to their career goals. Meaningful content needs to be supported by their feedback, that way,  they will feel more like stakeholders. Curating personalised content on a large scale is only possible with digital coaching and tools. With the help of digital tools, you can use gamification methods such as badges and rewards to jazz things up!

5 – Learning and Development Programs Aren’t Sustainable

Conventional learning and development programs usually provide limited training in a short period of time. Abstract and theoretical training doesn’t leave much room for practice and internalisation within the workforce. Employees resist receiving learning or coaching where they do not have an understanding of the path, big picture, and relevance. 

Solution: Digital coaching is a very effective way to implement a sustainable coaching culture within an organisation. It provides an ongoing process with pre-generated relevant content to the employees and is supported with constant evaluation and feedback – all while allowing a flexible schedule.

Build and Maintain a Learning Environment with Digital Coaching

Digital coaching combines a wide range of tools and is able to cater to every individual learner’s needs – even for large organisations – while maintaining an ongoing development culture. It also enables HR professionals to measure, track, and report on the coaching and training process that drives the overall impact on business.

Organizations with employee development programs are six times more likely to increase employee engagement, have lower rates of turnover, and are 2.5 times more productive than organizations that haven’t yet implemented a career development strategy.

Digital coaching, of course, shouldn’t replace a real-life coach or mentor. Keeping the human touch in coaching is a must. Digital coaching should support not only the preparation of the coachee but also the work of coaches and mentors, allowing them to have more effective and beneficial coaching conversations. That’s what SparkUs Platform is designed to do.

Meet SparkUs – Digital Coaching Combined with a Human Touch

At SparkUs, we believe that innovation starts with building future-ready leaders. Our mission is to establish a sustainable coaching culture within organisations so everyone, from entry-level hire to manager, can drive your organisation forward. To help you achieve this, we combine our 40+ years of coaching expertise with data-driven technology. Our next-generation coaching solution is reliable, scalable, and flexible – specifically designed to serve your different business needs.


Contact us to explore how SparkUs can contribute to your company

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