Planning Your World-Class Learning & Development Program

July 01, 2024
  • By Tooling U-SME

Headshot of John Hindman, Director of Learning and Performance Improvement at Tooling U-SME


John Hindman, Director of Learning and Performance Improvement at Tooling U-SME, shared his expertise at the tuXperience Workforce Development conference recently, in developing impactful Learning and Development (L&D) programs. With 12 years of experience at SME, John leads the Learning Services team to create programs that enhance job performance, foster career growth, and cultivate robust learning cultures. His mission is to improve employee retention through strategic development initiatives with companies.

The Current Landscape

Employee turnover is a significant challenge for companies today. Since 2014, resignation rates have surged by 37%, with 35% of employees leaving within their first year—37% of these departures occur within the first 90 days. In 2023 alone, U.S. companies spent nearly $900 billion to replace employees who quit. The primary reason for leaving is a lack of career growth opportunities, overshadowing concerns about health, family, and work-life balance. Additionally, job stress, insufficient training, and a lack of empowerment are emerging as critical factors driving employees away.

Elements of a World-Class Learning & Development Program

The goal of a world-class L&D program is to transition from an ad hoc approach to a strategic, high-impact model. The High-Impact Learning Maturity Model consists of ten essential attributes:

  1. Learning and Supportive Culture
    • Integration of training into daily business processes.
    • Leadership values employee development as a competitive advantage.
    • Prioritization of training over production when necessary.
    • Clear communication of the development program to all levels.
  2. Defined Job Profiles and Qualifications
    • Use of job profiles to guide conversations around skills gaps and performance management.
    • Well-defined employee development plans.
    • Clear visibility of workforce skill gaps.
  3. Strategic Content Alignment
    • Role-based training to avoid redundancy.
    • Blended learning approaches to cater to adult learning styles.
    • ROI considerations in choosing learning methodologies.
  4. Peer Training
    • Structured on-the-job training (OJT) with qualified peer trainers.
    • Standardized documentation of organizational knowledge.
    • Defined and executed time to competency plans.
  5. Measurement and Evaluation
    • Use of assessments to verify knowledge transfer.
    • Ongoing job skills evaluations.
    • Feedback tools to ensure the program meets business needs.
    • Data communication to leaders on workforce development success.
  6. Just-in-Time Learning
    • Use of performance support tools to provide immediate training when needed.
    • Digital systems to distribute information on demand.
  7. Career Development/Progression
    • Skills-based progression rather than tenure-based.
    • Clear development plans for growth opportunities.
    • Inclusion of formal mentorship programs.
  8. Human Performance Improvement Initiatives
    • Collaboration with other functional areas for continuous improvement.
    • Feedback channels for supervisors and staff.
    • Provision of proper tools for high performance.
  9. Learning Infrastructure (People, Process, Policy)
    • Mature strategies to manage and sustain learning programs.
    • Standardized materials and processes.
    • Qualified personnel to maintain the program.
  10. Social Learning/Communications
    • Use of social learning platforms for employee communication and professional networking.
    • Recognition of individual achievements through badging.
    • Formalization of informal learning through knowledge sharing.

Implementing the Model

Participants at tuX were asked to rate their organization’s maturity in each of the high-impact learning elements. This assessment provided a benchmark to compare the company’s practices against industry standards. Attendees engage in open discussions about the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) related to L&D programs. This collaborative approach helped in sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly of L&D experiences, fostering a culture of continuous improvement.

A world-class Learning & Development program is essential for enhancing employee retention, fostering career growth, and maintaining a competitive edge in the marketplace. By focusing on the ten attributes of high-impact learning, organizations can create robust, strategic L&D initiatives that support long-term success.

For more details on this topic check out the presentation recap from tuX 2024! Over 100 workforce development manufacturing professionals gathered at the tuXperience Workforce Development conference in Pittsburgh, PA. tuX promotes overall best practices in training and workforce development, encourages the adoption of advanced technologies, and furthers the success of the U.S. Manufacturing industry.

We are always available to talk with you about ways to develop your workforce that can accommodate resource challenges. Our Learning Services team can design a training program that delivers faster time to performance, improved quality and productivity, and increased employee satisfaction and retention. Contact Tooling U-SME at 866.706.8665 to learn more.

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