What Is
Learning and Development (L&D)?
Definition and Strategy

We’re here today to discuss how companies make their workforce more competent and motivated to complete their tasks. You’ll meet with various strategies you can deploy for this purpose and see who are those heroes doing that. Learning and development consists of two words that seem closely related, but let’s look closer and distinguish them.
is the growth of knowledge in some industry or competence field. Here, you search for sources of knowledge, such as books, videos, articles, instructions, and infographics, and practice based on them. Therefore, you learn how to deploy various skills to create more value and understand how something in the world works.
is the implementation of that knowledge, so everyone builds their own goals and personal plans. Unlike learning, it requires clear schedules and deadlines, so it’s more like project management than academic-like education. By developing work tasks, you use your skills to complete them and create value, ensuring the company’s growth.
Combining these two processes together, you make yourself and your employees work more efficiently while becoming more motivated for that. The need for recognition and personal growth is an extremely strong motivator, stronger than salary. Thus, corporate learning and development are a great part of success. As you will find out, upskilling the worker costs several times less than finding the new one. Combine it with enhanced motivation, and you’ll see how your enterprise will flourish!

So it begins!

What is learning and development?

It is a set of practices aimed at increasing the skill level of people working in the company and, consequently, a job position of a person proficient in corporate education management.

Incompetence is one of the deadliest sins in the corporate environment. That doesn’t mean, however, that some of us are born more competent than others. Rather, the answer is in how to increase the competencies of everyone involved. That’s the essence we’ll explore here. The learning and development training involves various activities elaborated on and managed by L&D specialists. There are various areas of improvement: from core competencies, involving those that directly create value for the company, to the efficiency of the management and communication in it.

We’ll see each of these areas later.

Why is L&D so important for your organization?

In the L&D definition, we’d better start with an example.

Imagine that you have an army in a large real-time strategy game. You need to protect your base, gather resources, and overcompete all your enemies. In addition to building, expanding, extracting, and training new units, most games enable you to gather a specific resource, knowledge, and use it to increase your units’ powers or even go to more developed eras. Actually, it’s quite close to how it works in real business, despite you should remember that it’s much more complex.

The importance of learning and development is the same as the knowledge accumulation in such games. Your employees grow in their productivity, increase their productivity with each “level-up” and, therefore, create more value, remaining more satisfied. However, here you cannot measure knowledge directly; only by using metrics such as task completion rate, turnover rate, and employee satisfaction.

It’s important to pay attention to these metrics. Now, we’ll explore relevant strategies.

Creating a learning and development strategy

We have several competency fields, each of them showing some area of human activity. Each of them requires a different approach and skillset, so it’s possible to reach proficiency in most of them. Various learning and development strategy examples work with these areas, increasing knowledge and possibilities in these. According to Fayek & Omar's (2016) article, there are six of them, and that’s enough to reach notable progress.
 Functional competencies
are specific skills related to some job position, such as writing code in C# or designing website prototypes.
Core competencies
include basic business activities similar to all companies, such as the maintenance of high product quality and understanding of the production cycle.
Behavioral competencies
are related to communications and emotional intelligence, and therefore are necessary to maintain teams’ cohesion and cooperativity.
Management competencies
include the ability to set deadlines, manage time, assign tasks to team members, and work efficiently.
Organizational competencies
are all connected with leadership and the ability to organize and inspire oneself and others with large-scale goals.
Technical competencies
include the ability to use all technical equipment needed to work, from computers to databases and other machines.
To figure out an L&D strategy, explore each of these segments thoroughly. Ask questions and gather feedback from your colleagues. You can use the well-known four stages of competency to evaluate the skill level, no matter to which competency area it corresponds. See the reference scheme below that was elaborated in the 1970s by Noel Burch from the Gordon Training International training center.

Let`s explore each stage:
Learning and development metrics
Unconscious incompetence
is the beginning level of everything: you don’t know anything about the subject and don’t even know how it can change at all.
Conscious incompetence
is when you clearly understand what you don’t know and where to learn it: despite you still cannot apply the skill, you can learn it.
Conscious competence
is the level when you can apply the skill to solve problems consciously and efficiently, but still need a conscious effort for that.
Unconscious competence
is when your skill knowledge is wholly integrated with your body, so you complete your tasks seamlessly with the highest efficiency.

Learning and development metrics

So, you don’t have anything like the tangible resource called “Knowledge” you can measure as belonging to your company. But you have many various types of knowledge and various metrics that enable you to actually evaluate how knowledge-rich you are. At the end of this article, you’ll see how learning management systems (LMSs), such as our own, help you in measuring them. Now, let’s see them.
Training cost per employee
is the sum of money per month or year you spend on your education.
Operational efficiency
measures the quality of the task completion and usually shows which fraction of them were completed within the deadline.
Performance changes
can be evaluated by measuring the time of tasks completion before and after the education, as well as comparing how much value this exact employee creates, in terms of the company’s earnings for example.
Training returns on investment (ROI)
is the ratio of the income increase after education to the investment size.
Completion rates
show how many employees have completed their courses and tasks related to them.
Training satisfaction
cannot be measured directly, but you can use surveys, both anonymous and non-anonymous, as well as communicate with employees directly, to gather their feedback.
With these numbers and approximations in mind, you can track the plan completion and edit it when necessary.

Learning and development plan

So, you need a plan that will work again and again, being updated and edited regularly based on metrics and feedback. It will increase the accumulated knowledge in your company and transform it into an efficient and healthy workspace with educated and engaged employees.

Difference between learning and development and HR

If you think everything above is familiar but cannot remember where you heard that, you’ve possibly remembered the human resources industry. Yes, L&D is part of this industry, as it deals with the most precious resource of a company: people. Still, it’s so different from other practices, such as hiring, onboarding, and allocating, that should be overviewed separately. In addition, it’s our business, so it’s certainly the most important for us!

But, let’s not rush to judgment. Let’s see some numbers.
While it’s all the same large field of people and workforce management, corporate education and skill development is quite a specific part. You can explore various types of HR tools and software in the article linked above, and see that L&D tools include a fraction of them. Learning management systems (LMSs) and, to a certain extent, talent management systems (TMSs) work as platforms to share knowledge, engage learners, and assign tasks for reinforcement and performance tracking.

According to the 2021 LinkedIn report, more than 60% of L&D specialists consider it as the key activity of the company that should be directly supervised by the executive team. It also shows that employees are 2 times more eager to stay at the company with robust HR learning and development activities and opportunities to grow. Lastly, it’s very trendy: almost 80% of young specialists born in the 1990s believe that education is the key to a career.

According to the latest studies, only 20% of employees are engaged at their workplaces and more than 80% aren’t satisfied there. Improving the situation will quickly move you at the top-level companies from the employees’ point of view. L&D is among the most viable and powerful methods to change the situation, increasing engagement to more than 70%.

Benefits and cost-saving

Both searching for new employees and upskilling the existing ones aim to rally your company and ensure its efficiency in working together. We can seek more numbers and reveal that, according to the Workable resources, the average cost to fill a position is about $15,000, including all waste and expenses. Meanwhile, according to the recent Training Industry Reports, the yearly cost of employee upskilling is only about $1,200. Saves can be much larger, up to more than $30,000 per employee.

So, if we compare HR and L&D, we’ll see that the latter is the best practice not only to ensure the competitiveness of your teams but also to save costs and ensure a healthy work environment.

TOP-10 best learning and development platforms in 2024

Our world is full of machines that improve people’s lives. Our industry isn’t different. We have a lot of learning and development software on the market, and so we’ll end our article by depicting some of them. They have similar core functionalities, enabling you to maintain a knowledge base and enhance employees’ skills, but their inclinations may be different, so you’d better choose one based on which options you need the most and how much you’re ready to invest in L&D.
has the power of customization and reward store for the best learners, enabling you to obtain the fully personalized learning app for your company for no more than $5 per user per month.
uses the power of artificial intelligence and data analysis to improve the education process and while its price isn’t transparent, it starts from $800/month according to user reviews, plus setup fees.
is the learners experience platform (LXP) that uses data analysis and AI to personalize learning processes and select learning content from various sources; however, it’s very expensive with no less than €17,000 per year.
focuses on social education, encouraging users to learn together with interactive tools, and it costs $8 per user per month.
has a simple set of features for different purposes, being a good choice for onboarding and staff management, and its prices start from $69 to $450 per month.
is among the largest and most expensive learning and development tools providing many generative AI features and content libraries for large corporations and charging according to the number of active users.
iSpring Solutions
has numerous course templates and a unified base of various learning content, being the best for content production and sale and costing from €770 to1,970 per active content author per year.
Cypher Learning
uses Microsoft Copilot for content generation, organization, and targeted delivery, being a good universal choice, and its price is undisclosed.
is a freeware tool with a free basic version and numerous plug-ins, some of which are paid, so it’s the best choice for non-commercial organizations.
is also freeware and designed for schools and other learning facilities, so it’s the best option if you have some science-like activity in the company.
When developing a learning and development program, choose the LMS that fits you best, based on whether you need a fully customized app, a learning experience platform, a bunch of AI tools, a large learning base, or something else. That’s the last element in your puzzle and by combining the proper learning tool with the well-developed strategies, you’ll obtain the best result!

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