As enterprises consider different ways of promoting professional development to engage employees and compete in ‘the war for talent’, some are realizing the value of intranet software in helping to nurture a proactive culture of learning and development.
Skilled employees are the heart of every organization and supporting them to develop their skills and knowledge has long been an effective way to stay competitive as a business, and appealing as an employer. Unless you’ve spent the last two years hiding under a rock (and who could blame you), you’ll already know that attracting and retaining talent has become one of the biggest challenges for organizations in every industry.
The Harvard Business Review recently predicted that one way organizations will compete in ‘the war for talent‘ – without raising pay unnecessarily – is to shorten the working week, but promoting professional development opportunities could be yet another way to attract and retain people.
In 2019, LinkedIn’s Workforce Learning Report found 94% of employees would stay longer in one job if that employer invested in helping them learn. Today, as enterprises tussle for talent, giving employees what they want is more important than ever.
So, are organizations taking training and development seriously?
In LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, 63% of L&D professionals agreed that L&D does have a seat at the executive table, which suggests that professional development is a priority in many businesses. Organizational priorities don’t always translate into employee engagement, however, and one of the reasons for this is a lack of effective internal communications driving staff to the right initiatives and information.
If L&D isn’t being publicized enough internally, and without success stories to promote professional development externally, it becomes harder to attract people who want to work in an organization that supports it.
Why you should be promoting professional development
Whether it’s because individuals hope to develop and progress in their careers (and so prefer to stay with an employer that supports them) or because showing that you care about them as people can increase how valued they feel over their work-lifetime with you, promoting L&D can help to give workers an outstanding employee experience.
There is also an inherent business benefit to employee training and development. As many sectors face widening skills gaps, upskilling existing workers helps to fill senior or lateral positions and creates a culture that celebrates internal success. Additionally, a culture that supports development, including mentoring, makes it easier to onboard inexperienced workers and grads to work in junior positions with the promise of training and development on the job.
Planning & deploying a successful intranet
From a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) standpoint, having and promoting an equitable set of L&D initiatives for all people can also be attractive for all employees.
It’s important to remember that a positive DE&I strategy should cover everyone, including, for example, older workers who may feel sidelined by a focus on younger workers. With enterprises requiring new digital skillsets though, it’s important to ensure these opportunities are presented to all employees.
Internal communications and L&D
You might wonder why it’s necessary to put additional focus on promoting L&D opportunities. If employees are made aware when they’re onboarded, and an ‘all staff’ email is sent when there is a major L&D update to share, then what more do employees need? However, we know from working with our customers that in busy enterprises it’s rarely so simple.
In busier organizations with frequent internal communications around all manner of subjects, information can be difficult to retain. Those with busy workloads may be well aware of the information shared in professional development comms, but may be putting their professional development intentions on the backburner. By frequently sharing L&D communications on a range of channels, enterprises can cut through the noise to encourage and inspire individuals to prioritize professional development.
Some employees may not bother looking into the development programs on offer but could be easily lured to new career opportunities in competing organizations. You want to see them flourish in your organization, not at a competing business. Your HR team is effectively competing against these external opportunities, so promoting internal development front and center helps to keep employees from moving on by making them recognize the value in staying, and making the most of the development programs already available to them.
Planning & deploying a successful intranet
Employees who are aware of the development options available to them may not believe in the value of those options. Sharing success stories from other employees and promoting the potential outcomes of development – including skills they’ll pick up, pay, the positions they could end up in, and (if possible) estimated time frames – means they can see the value.
When it comes to attracting new talent, getting favored candidates to accept a job offer doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve won them over. Development opportunities will be one of the reasons they’ve chosen to accept the role, but new employees often have a lot to take in. Therefore, development shouldn’t just be promoted during pre-boarding but also throughout the onboarding process, and frequently through their tenure in your organization.
How an intranet helps enterprises learn, develop, and connect
Whether your organization has invested in a learning management system (LMS), creates development programs in-house, or enlists a third party for L&D, you want to get the most out of your investment. This is where feature-rich intranet software can help. Used correctly, a modern social intranet enables communicators to promote L&D programs internally while also improving how people can discover more about them organically.
Intranet tools for promoting learning and development opportunities
- Use a prominent homepage widget on your intranet to provide a clickable link to a dedicated content area containing an overview of your L&D programs, success stories, and step-by-step guides for enrolling or registering interest in development programs.
- Broadcast L&D reminders and updates across every channel with a multichannel intranet that includes email, intranet homepage banners, channels on digital workplace platforms (Teams, Slack etc), digital signage, and mobile app notifications.
- Utilize quizzes and surveys to quickly gauge awareness of learning and development opportunities available. These can also be used to measure how valuable employees who have enrolled in L&D feel the programs were and gather their feedback for future development.
Planning & deploying a successful intranet
- Help employees easily access the information they need about initiatives with an enterprise search tool that enables them to find content on any device at any time.
- Nurture thriving learning communities and encourage employees to support mutual development through intranet forums.
- Engage offline and frontline workers with creative digital signage comms that use QR code tracking to encourage employees to scan through to supporting content on your intranet via their smartphones.
Encouraging advocacy of your L&D programs
The chances are your organization has a few advocates willing to share their experiences and help inspire others to engage with your L&D offerings. Providing these individuals with the tools to quickly and easily create and publish highly engaging and visual content will be a major step towards growing awareness and uptake of professional development opportunities.
A true social intranet will provide these tools and allow your L&D advocates to share their experiences in the form of blogs and vlogs, and give recognition to mentors and program leaders. Those mentors and program leaders can also help to inspire others to engage in professional development activities by sharing their own updates, experiences, and recognition of individuals engaged in the learning process.
All of these can be posted as standalone posts on the intranet homepage rather than published directly into the dedicated learning and development content area. Having these appear on the intranet homepage when first published will ensure employees see them as soon as they open up the intranet. These posts can easily be moved to the dedicated learning and development content area at a later date.
A powerful ally in the ongoing War for Talent
Nurturing a culture of professional development can be incredibly challenging if employees are rarely exposed to the L&D benefits on offer, their own prospects within the organization if they follow those development opportunities, and the success stories and guidance from colleagues who have benefited from them. As enterprises continue to compete for talent and shrink attrition, intranet software will be their ally when it comes to placing professional development front and center.