How Employee Learning Programs Can Be a Strategic Advantage

Competition is part of human nature, and when it comes to the business we’re trying to grow, it’s hard to deny the value of competition-ready teams and leaders.

These days, the need to develop the knowledge and skills that can move businesses forward is an increasing priority for many companies. The time is ripe to look for the strategic benefits of creating a culture of learning across the organization, from executive suites through frontline management and entry-level associates. Here are three approaches you can take to position employee learning and development as a core initiative to build competitive advantage.

1. Invest in Programs that Align Business and Employee Goals

Your business goals likely include talent initiatives to close skills gaps today and find leaders for the future. The investment in learning and development is certainly one way to attract and retain talent. In fact, the call to do so has been highlighted by studies like a recent Deloitte survey on the expectations of millennials as the workforce—and leadership—of tomorrow.

Deloitte’s 2016 Millennial Surveygathered responses from more than 7,500 millennials from 29 countries, all with college degrees and employed full time. The study found that 2/3rd of those surveyed expected to leave their employer by the end of 2020, and yet where millennials are most satisfied with with their learning opportunities they are also likely to stay longer. Participants also ranked professional development, training and leadership opportunities among the five most important considerations for evaluating a job opportunity.1

2. Pick Strategic Partners who Offer First-Rate Tools and Content

Why go it alone when you can look to providers in the space to offer the learning systems, content and technology you need—and that your employees want. Maximize your efforts by partnering with education and training providers who have strategic planning experience and tools that you can leverage as well.

Considerations as you search for partners in education, training and development:

  • Range of digital content
  • Rigor and design of academic content
  • Ease of use and access to dedicated portals
  • Tech-forward platforms
  • Potential for blended learning experiences
  • Opportunities for self-directed and group learning
  • Ability to earn certificates, college credit and other rewards

3. Make Learning and Growth Part of the Workplace Culture

Guiding these efforts from the top down can be both an effective strategy and a programmatic tactic. The chance to participate in organizational training and development programs from day one is identified as a benefit to new hires, while employers can target defined business problems to address, and benchmark their programs to track outcomes.

Employee and learner data can be mined for the kind information that managers and corporate leaders can use to gauge progress of the workforce at large, levels of employee or team engagement, and the impact that skill-building has on the bottom line. When learning opportunities permeate career pathways at your organization, it can be strong strategic shift toward a shared workplace culture that’s focused on growth and helps you stand out against the competition.


1 The 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey: Winning over the next generation of leaders, document on the internet at, visited November 7, 2017.