Unlocking Organizational Growth Through Learning and Development Programs

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“Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough, so they don’t want to.” – Richard Branson.

Organizational leaders face the tough challenges of retaining employees while struggling to find the top talent to make their businesses successful. At the same time, employees are searching for employers who will invest in their future growth and opportunities for advancement. To address these concerns, companies must invest in their employees through learning and development (L&D) programs that increase performance and productivity while encouraging collaboration and advancement.

Employee development needs to change at different career stages.

Employees in different stages of their careers have different learning and development needs from their employers. For example, the average 25-year-old employee wants a clear purpose at work and knows that what they do has meaning while maintaining a strong balance with their personal lives. They seek employers offering career development opportunities within a positive company culture. At the same time, the average 45-year-old employee is seeking job security with opportunities for growth and a positive work-life balance. Leaders who understand these different expectations and provide various solutions are attracting and retaining today’s top talent.

Case study examples of the impact L&D programs have on organizational growth.

Company growth can only happen with great people doing great work every day. This requires employee retention and top performance. Research consistently shows that productivity rates increase, turnover rates decrease, and there is a high ROI for companies that invest in employee learning and development.

  • National organizations: Amazon invested $700 million to support their “Upskilling 2025” to increase employee skills which has already resulted in employees obtaining higher-paying technical jobs to level up the company. Hilton initiated the “Hilton Worldwide University” with on-the-job training with online courses and has increased employee engagement and customer satisfaction resulting in higher profit. In the last two years, IBM and Verizon also invested heavily in employee training programs to level up their teams. They have seen incredible success from this focus.
  • Regional organizations: Silver Star Communications, a telecommunications company in Wyoming, kicked off a blended learning training program in 2021 and has reported increased employee satisfaction and retention. Pella Regional Health Center, a healthcare provider in Iowa, focused on a training program for their nurses in 2021 with targeted skills training that decreased nursing turnover rates and improved patient outcomes. CK Power in Missouri and The McGraw Companies in Michigan also focused on L&D programs in 2021 and have both seen increased productivity, efficiency, safety, and customer satisfaction.

National and regional companies that invest in training are seeing results. According to the Training Industry Report in 2021, there was an average 15% increase in spending on per-employee learning and development programs. But this begs the question, “what does this extra spending mean for the organization?” Other studies in 2021 found that employees who receive organizational training have a higher commitment to the company, generate more creative and innovative ideas, and report higher levels of job security and a positive sense of career advancement opportunities.

How effective L&D programs support growth and career development.
  1. Build learning based on job-specific roles and needs. It is important to remember that each department is different. The team members think, function, and act differently from their counterparts in other departments. Consider building learning that ensures individual success for the members of that department. For example, a sales team might benefit from negotiation techniques and communication skills that will help the organization grow. At the same time, the informational technology team would benefit more from data analytics and cyber security training.
  2. Provide self-enrolled ongoing learning opportunities. Training aggregators in learning management systems (LMS) act like a library of knowledge for employees. By working with these providers, employees would be able to self-enroll (or the HR team can assign learning based on their role) in learning that interests them or aligns with a future job role they want to achieve. Employees appreciate the availability, organizational culture, and support of taking “on-the-clock” time to complete continued learning.
  3. Support collaboration and cross-knowledge sharing. Another great feature of many LMS providers and other collaboration tools is the ability to encourage connection and conversation between team members and departments. Within a learning program itself, reviews, comments, communities, and groups can be “turned on” to allow for input from individual employees to share their ideas and thoughts on how to implement what they are learning.
  4. Measure the impact! More than just the “smile sheet” that shares how learners feel about the training and the presenter and instead focus on comparing pre- and post-training performance metrics, deep dive into employee engagement surveys, consider moving away from “knowledge checks” instead focus on knowledge implementation programs and finally factor the ROI of the learning program by comparing the costs to the benefits received. Remember that measurement takes time, and avoid making rapid unnecessary program changes without fully measuring impact.

Organizations can realize growth by investing time and resources into learning and development programs targeted at specific job roles, supporting the employee’s desire for additional knowledge and advancement, and fostering a culture of knowledge sharing, innovation, and learning. The most significant investment an organization can make is in the people supporting the vision, driving the mission, and doing fantastic work daily. Invest in learning to stay competitive and relevant in an ever-changing business landscape.


Amazon. (2021, July 27). Amazon to invest over $700 million to upskill 100,000 U.S. employees for in-demand jobs. Amazon.com, Inc. https://www.aspeninstitute.org/of-interest/amazon-pledges-700-million-to-upskill-100000-workers/

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Hilton. (2021). Hilton announces partnership with Babson College to launch hospitality innovation incubator. Hilton Newsroom. https://newsroom.hilton.com/corporate/news/hilton-babson-college-partnership

Hilton. (2021, January 12). Hilton commits $1 billion to become the best place to work for all. Hilton Newsroom. https://ir.hilton.com/~/media/Files/H/Hilton-Worldwide-IR-V3/quarterly-results/2021/q1-2021-earnings-release.pdf

IBM. (2021, January 25). IBM launches new collar program focused on in-demand skills. PR Newswire. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/ibm-launches-new-and-enhanced-services-to-help-simplify-security-for-hybrid-cloud-301254651.html

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Silver Star Communications. (2021). Silver Star launches comprehensive employee training program. Silver Star Communications Newsroom. https://www.silversea.com/about-silversea/press-releases/2021/july/silversea-returns-to-service-new-e-learning-platform.html

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Tucker, P. (2019, July 11). Amazon is spending $700 million to retrain a third of its workforce for higher-paying jobs. CNBC. https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/11/amazon-plans-to-spend-700-million-to-retrain-a-third-of-its-workforce-in-new-skills-wsj.html

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Verizon. (2021, February 24). Verizon invests over $80 million in employee development in 2020. PR Newswire. https://www.verizon.com/about/news/verizon-ends-2021-strong-wireless-service-revenue-and-eps-growth

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