The only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.
Research by McKinsey & Co. shows that 87% of organisations either have skills gaps or expect to have them over the next few years. This is a severe challenge because today’s business structure and systems require employees who are professionally and holistically trained, versatile, and willing to learn and improve – which has become a key factor for organisations to succeed and maintain a competitive advantage over their rivals.
One-off personnel training interventions have yet to provide an integrated approach to employee development. Indeed, beyond the specific training programmes for employees, there’s the need for a more strategic learning function.
As organisations face the challenge of transforming their people to promote innovation, better self-development and support their career aspirations, attention has turned to a unique solution to address these issues comprehensively.
Learning Academy: The Emerging Solution
A learning academy is an advancement beyond traditional organisation training activities; it is a curated path that drives organisations’ ‘educational’ goals. It includes courses and on-the-job learning opportunities you deliver to your team to build the necessary skills that align with your organisation’s transformation effort and business needs.
A learning academy acts as a control centre that coordinates the various business areas (HR, management, IT, .etc) and enables synergistic corporation; it should strategically integrate the development of individuals and teams into the organisation’s growth. In addition, you should tie the content and delivery of your learning academy to your organisation’s context to ensure they’re relevant and immediately applicable.
For your organisation to be exemplary, your learning academy should be focused, visionary and specific – considering business priorities and adapting its learning programmes to corporate strategy.
There are four (4) strategic aspects that make up the foundations of any learning academy:
- Vision: A learning academy has to align perfectly with your organisation’s vision. It should serve as its primary tool and guide decision-making and strategy formulation.
- Positioning: Positioning questions the academy’s role in your organisation’s strategic framework. Your learning academy should serve as a training disseminator that guides business strategies and the production and delivery of knowledge.
- Faculty: Faculty refers to all the assessments of the learning programme, including content, format, target audience and individuals that need to be involved.
- Infrastructure: The learning academy infrastructure refers to the conditions that determine the functioning of the academy, i.e., the structure and governance, technology to support the training, communication strategy, and other essentials.
These four pillars define the capacity with which your learning academy will then be able to drive innovation and overall business growth.
Why Does Your Organisation Need a Learning Academy?
Undoubtedly, the most successful organisations deliberately invest in learning and employee development. Therefore, Building a learning academy plays a critical role in disseminating strategic knowledge. Aside from this, some other reasons why you should invest in a learning academy include the following:
It's critical to your organisation's growth
Today’s business owners recognise the importance of communicating their vision and strategic goals to their employees. Building a learning academy ensures employees know what it means to fully commit to achieving business goals.
Promotes employee career path
A learning academy helps employees to accelerate their career development. It also transforms career paths from the traditional upward linear to more diverse opportunity-oriented. In addition, when there are senior roles to be filled, you’re more likely to look internally and consider promoting existing employees.
Builds brand reputation
As an organisation, your reputation is defined by the quality of your services and employees’ abilities. External stakeholders see employees as a direct reflection of the organisation’s culture.
Lowers the cost of training
Helps employees gain experience and satisfaction
A learning academy helps employees gain experience and build horizontal relationships by sharing their knowledge with colleagues across the organisation. Doing so makes employees feel motivated to produce high-quality work and efficient results.
How to Build a World-Class Learning Academy
To build a world-class learning academy where your employees will learn to enhance their skills and support career aspirations while helping the organisation achieve its goals, you must consider the following steps:
Establish clear learning goals and objectives
Many organisations feel intimidated by their competition’s creation of learning academies and decide to go with the flow. But unfortunately, the failures of such academies outnumber the successes and employee improvement rates remain low.
The first step to avoid this is to ensure you set clear goals, i.e., what the aim of your learning academy should achieve as touching your business objectives. By doing this, you can define success parameters and ensure alignment and support from your executive team.
This also helps vital stakeholders understand the relevant roles, responsibilities, and skills you need to focus on, which can help identify the right components for your learning design and curriculum.
Design structure and develop curriculum
The second step involves building your learning structure; this includes the timeline, curriculum, assessments and feedback opportunities.
A blended learning approach that balances learner preferences is usually most successful when considering the delivery method. Ensure to include hands-on learning because most people learn best by doing.
Also, leverage subject matter experts and have a training plan that identifies who will facilitate (internally, externally, or both).
Build your team
Gone are the days when organisations will assign training duties to specific employees in response to an “ask” by senior management. One may argue that building your team should come before setting your learning goals – or perhaps, simultaneously.
One of the keys to building a compelling world-class academy is having the right team. In creating your team, you need the following stakeholders;
- Subject Matter Expert (SME): The SME understands your target audience and what they’ll need from the learning programmes to realise value.
- Instructional Designer (ID): The ID has the design expertise and training in developing content to achieve specific learning outcomes.
- Executive Sponsor: An executive sponsor ensures you have a line of sight into the boardroom and maintain alignment.
Set clear expectations and outcomes
Employee development can quickly become inefficient without setting an expectation for building a learning academy. Therefore, while creating an academy, ensure the programmes’ content is concise and, more significantly, what you expect of your staff when they complete the training.
Also, communicate the possibility of continued on-the-job training and if employees are expected to perform the job immediately.
You may consider outlining a 30-, 60-, and 90-day plan to ensure managers and teams are aligned around performance expectations.
Measure and Improve
How do you know your set goals and expectations are met?
The blueprint for this is to develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success and identify the areas of improvement.
Doing this will help provide insight into employees’ learning needs and understanding of the programmes.
In addition, measuring outcomes over the long term will help determine the academy’s success, including whether employees advance within the organisation or have longer tenure.
The key factors to consider for the successful implementation of a world-class learning academy include the following;
- Ensuring proper oversight – a senior management executive should ensure that the academy plays its role adequately.
- Remember the vision – have an idea of what the academy will achieve over time, i.e., define its short and long-term goals.
As mentioned earlier, your learning academy must support and contribute to the achievement of the overall strategic goals of the organisation.
At Workforce Learning, we provide businesses with turn-key learning solutions adapted to today’s changing business needs, improve employee performance and deliver superior business results.
We have helped top-tier organisations and SMEs with the end-to-end process of building their learning academies. In other words, we designed their learning curriculums, planned the structure, and facilitated the delivery of learning programmes across the organisation. This has helped our clients achieve maximum organisational impact.
We can help you too.