Sharpening tired skills and having employees focus on learning and development is a goal every company should have. An eager workforce, constantly looking for ways to better themselves, either through projects that stretch their brain power, or online courses, is one that stays happy, productive, and contributes greatly to projects and issues the company may be facing. Plus, it’s great for companies to keep an edge above competitors.

However, the will to do it and the drive to do it are two different things. It can be really difficult to promote an environment of learning and development at your company. Maybe there are so many new, pressing projects in the pipeline that employees can barely come up for air, or it may be that budget cuts have stifled what is seen as a “nice-to-have” expense.

That’s just on the company side — you also have to consider the employees themselves.

  • You may have many employees eager and ‘chomping at the bit’ to tackle new skills, but they just don’t know when they can fit it into such a demanding work day.
  • You also may have employees that are so run down with work and home life, that the idea of trying to learn something new is overwhelming and they may not have the support to do so.

Even if you can’t pay for MBA’s or other professional courses, there are things you can do to help anyone, in any situation, get the most out of their drive. This can’t just be something where you say “it’s good for the company, do it!” and hope they follow suit. 

Here are 5 ways HR can encourage Learning and Development.

Stay Competitive.

Every employee that walks through the door should know you’re looking for the best and brightest to join the ranks. And, furthermore, this should continue after they’ve been hired, as well.

HR should present a strong campaign for encouraging learning, and everyone should know how you aim to stay competitive. Whether it’s touting what other companies are doing and challenging others to take the lead, or having annual plans in place to have a certain percentage of your workforce engaged in extracurricular learning, make staying competitive a top priority, and the employees will follow along.


While learning and development should be rewarding enough in themselves, you may have to provide incentives for some of your employees to take the bait.

This can be something small, such as a gift card for a beverage at a coffee shop for attending a webinar, or it can be larger, such as whomever is the first to complete all five learning modules in your system gets a TV.

It may be that one tiny push turns into a snowball of momentum and you will find some natural leaders on your hands.

Partnering & Mentoring.

If you have teams composed of many roles and responsibilities, it may help them to partner up with someone who has a different role than themselves for periodic exchanges.

This can be something short like a “walk and talk” meeting, where they can exchange what they each may be doing for the same project (but more in depth than what they would catch in a morning standup meeting), or even an online chat over coffee.

You can also establish a more formal mentoring program within the company, as well, to encourage relationships as a form of development.

Lunch & Learn.

Having hour long sessions, or a “Lunch & Learn” are a great way to engage workers in the office or working online without requiring any time outside of work. This gives employees who may have small kids at home (or other obligations) with very little time the chance to feel like they are taking steps forward.

It’s a more relaxed atmosphere, as well, which can be encouraging for those that may not do well in a formal setting. You can even have employees vote on the topics to be covered, which makes them feel more invested and likely to show up.

Send out surveys afterwards to gauge how it was received and what could be adjusted for the next time.

Tie it into Goals.

When employees help develop their own quarterly or annual goals, it helps in keeping them engaged and focused.

Tying learning goals into their performance goals is a great way to help them prioritize learning.

Plus, they know they can arrange it during their normal workday, and that can help alleviate some of the pressure. If this is for a paid programme that the company is willing to sponsor the financial side, it’s a great way to groom someone into leadership for the years to come. These individuals can also champion these programs and vet out which ones may be a good choice for others, as well.

Encouraging learning and development is an investment of time and resources, but is absolutely necessary in the changing (professional) world we live in. 

Staying competitive is important for the longevity of your company, and for soliciting great talent, so it behooves you to establish programs to promote learning and work with those who show an interest.

Find ways to support a wide range of employee circumstances to help make your company one that stays on top of their game!

© Human Resources Global

Categories: Talent Management


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