Why do we work?
Most of us need a source of income, sure. But what else?
We want to develop passions and interests; meet like-minded people; grow our knowledge and skillsets. Grow as people. That’s why our jobs are usually more than just what we do for a few hours a day—they’re part of our lives and identities.
And when we feel like we’re growing and developing, we’re more likely to stick around at our jobs, perform better, and achieve better business outcomes. According to a study published in the Asian Journal of Management, access to company-sponsored learning and development opportunities is associated with a 35% increase in job satisfaction and a 26% increase in intention to stay at the organization.
By offering relevant, meaningful learning and development opportunities to your people, you’ll build stronger teams and a more engaged workforce. But what’s the bridge between those opportunities and your culture?
How to connect L&D to performance management
According to a study of the McDonald’s business model, incorporating learning and development into performance management not only encourages employees to pursue L&D opportunities but also positions them as a reward.
To create a culture that celebrates learning and development, you’ll want to position L&D opportunities as rewards from the very beginning of an employee’s tenure.
Prioritize L&D in recruitment conversations
When you’re competing for top talent, you need to make sure you’re offering a top-flight suite of perks for your people. Especially with so many of us now working remotely, we’re seeing a move away from the beer-and-pool table perks that used to epitomize startup culture towards more “wholesome” perks like learning and development budgets.
To recruit candidates who are development-minded, make sure to bring up learning and development opportunities early in recruitment discussions. Share the connection between performance and L&D: that success is much broader than just finished tasks, but is measured also by growth and advancement. When it comes time to meet the hiring manager, make sure they can speak to their expectations for L&D and performance throughout an employee’s tenure.
Be candid with recruits about budgets and opportunities available to them. Does your organization allow employees to take personal days for conferences, or do they have an annual budget for self-determined development opportunities? Position your L&D allowances as perks and the recruits will jump on board.
Performance, onboarding, and learning and development
The earlier you engage new hires in your company’s performance management processes, the better. According to a study of Gen Z’s expectations for onboarding published by the Journal of Organizational Change Management, 61% of employees feel like their jobs were misrepresented during recruitment and onboarding—something that could be easily fixed by incorporating performance management early and openly.
That same study of Gen Z employees cites learning and development as a specific factor in increasing employee motivation and engagement. Introducing performance management and learning and development opportunities as interconnected experiences during an employee’s first weeks will help acclimate them to their role and your organization’s culture.
Kicking off performance management on day one helps managers and their people align organizational and personal goals and expectations. Incorporate learning and development opportunities into these early-days conversations by presenting industry courses and conferences that are available to the employee, discussing career trajectories and growth options for folks who have been in their role, and asking where they see this role taking them so you can develop a personalized performance management plan together.
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Monitor L&D progress as part of performance management
To prioritize learning and development for your employees, you need to make sure it’s top of mind. Including it in your regular performance check-ins will help your employees prioritize it alongside their regular work obligations.
According to an article by the Training Institute about the successful incorporation of L&D into performance management, celebrating learning and development is a great motivator. “When an employee completes training or shares an example of a recent learning experience,” they write, “the manager should provide positive feedback to the employee regarding his or her participation…Performance management should be about guiding employees through learning and experiences to help them be their most effective.”
Employees shouldn’t be on their own for learning and development; rather, they should be able to trust HR and their managers to guide them towards relevant opportunities. By continuously revisiting their personal goals and plans, HR and managers can find opportunities to help employees grow that also benefit the organization. For example, if a developer is interested in learning more about diversity and inclusion, they can take courses on diversity, inclusion, and accessibility while simultaneously taking on more responsibility in the product’s accessibility needs.
Engage and inspire with a growth culture
Give your employees a reason to join, improve, and stick around by prioritizing learning and development opportunities. By investing in their personal growth, you’ll prove that you care about them as people and you hope they’ll be part of your organization for the long-term.