The Top 10 Learning and Development Challenges and How to Solve Them

Jasmine Quigley
February 13, 2023
Estimated read time: 5 minutes
Table of Contents

The world of employment is going through a lot of changes. Between skill based hiring movements that focus on the competencies and skill sets of candidates, to the ongoing impacts felt from the ‘Great Resignation’. This era of transformation is creating a greater focus on learning and development. Opportunities for growth are gratefully received but to ensure success, organizations need to consider the common learning and development challenges they may face. In this article we explore the top learning and development challenges and how to solve them.

To meet employee demand, organizations are reassessing their strategies to see how they can integrate skill development and learning into day-to-day experiences. They are shifting priorities to help employees acquire the skills, knowledge, and competencies that are necessary for their professional growth and will contribute towards the success of the organization. Organizations that consider implementing a corporate training program should be prepared for the most common challenges:

  1. Determining training needs
  2. Allocating resources
  3. Identifying the best training method
  4. Keeping employees engaged
  5. Measuring the impact of training
  6. Encouraging employee feedback
  7. Sustaining employee development
  8. Managing resistance to change
  9. Actioning applied knowledge
  10. Awarding employee development

1) Determining Training Needs

Challenge: When implementing a training program, organizations need to determine the specific skills and knowledge that employees need to perform their jobs to the best of their ability. The training program needs to address both the learner’s needs and the organization’s needs as a whole. If the needs of the individual and the organization are not assessed, this can lead to wasted resources and ineffective training. 

Solution: To overcome this challenge, organizations need to gain a clear understanding of what competencies are required for each role and align these to their employee’s skill gaps. Suggested resources that can help to solve this challenge include:

2) Allocating Resources

Challenge: To ensure a high-quality training experience, organizations need to allocate the necessary resources. Designing and delivering development programs can be costly and organizations need to plan effectively to ensure a balance between the quality of training and the resources required. This can be especially challenging for small to medium sized organizations that are dealing with restricted budgets. 

Solution: To solve this challenge, organizations must prioritize their training goals and assess the different methods of training delivery available. Cost-effective methods of delivering training often include outsourcing aspects of the program or utilizing technology and online learning platforms like Coursera, rather than pursuing in-person training. By allocating resources to the prioritized areas and considering digital training initiatives, organizations can deliver high-quality training while better managing costs. 

3) Identifying the Best Training Method

Challenge: Resources aren’t the only limitation to consider when identifying the best type of training method for employee training programs. Organizations also need to pay attention to the specific needs of their employees. There are a variety of training methods available including on-the-job training, in-person training, and online learning or e-learning and everyone responds differently depending on their learning style. 

Solution: Employers need to take the time to research and evaluate the different training methods available and talk to their employees to determine how they learn best. Ask them about previous programs they have taken and enjoyed, poor experiences they’ve had with training in the past, and what they’d like to achieve through training. Organizations may need to experiment with their learning programs to find the most effective option for their training and development needs.

4) Keeping Employees Engaged

Challenge: Engagement is commonly considered one of the biggest challenges of corporate training. Between managing daily responsibilities, busy schedules, and competing priorities, employees may find it difficult to get started with or complete their training. Learners also become disengaged when the training isn’t interesting or doesn’t appeal to their learning style. 

Solution: To overcome this challenge, employers should consider designating specific time within an employee’s day or week for them to spend time training and boost retention. This ensures employees don’t feel they have to juggle their responsibilities and have enough time to dedicate to upskilling. Organizations should find learning content that is engaging to the individual. For example, webinars and interactive quizzes are reported to be more engaging than a worksheet or recorded lecture. Gamification also contributes to increased learner engagement and helps to motivate course completion. Suggested resources that can help to solve this challenge include:

5) Measuring the Impact of Training

Challenge: Measuring the impact of training can be a significant challenge for organizations as it can be difficult to quantify the benefits of a training program and align them directly to business outcomes. It’s important to measure the impact of training as it enables organizations to better demonstrate the value to stakeholders and make data-driven decisions to adjust programs where necessary.

Solution: To solve this challenge, organizations need to define clear goals and outcomes for their training programs. SMART goals are a great way to define ideal outcomes by setting targets that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Timely. Organizations should then use data and metrics to track progress and measure the success of their programs. There are several areas where success can be measured: how satisfied and engaged employees are, the performance of individuals and teams after training, and the impact towards the business goals and bottom line. 

6) Encouraging Employee Feedback

Challenge: Another aspect of a successful training program is determining the engagement levels of employees. How can an organization adjust programs to meet the needs of their learners if they don’t know what their employees think about the training sessions? By gathering feedback from employees during and after training, organizations gain insights into what is working effectively and where improvements need to be made. However, encouraging feedback can be a challenge if employees feel uncomfortable making negative comments or feel they can’t influence positive changes.

Solution: To overcome this challenge, organizations need to foster a culture of open communication, where employees feel comfortable sharing their opinions and providing feedback. They need to make sure their employees feel heard and that their opinions matter. Common methods of collecting feedback include surveys, questionnaires, and focus groups. One-to-ones are an effective method of collecting feedback and allow a manager to better understand the employee feedback and elaborate on specific points where required. 

7) Sustaining Employee Development

Challenge: To ensure the most impactful and long-lived outcomes of training, it needs to go beyond a one-and-done session. This means organizations need to consider the long-term outcomes of training prior to implementation, alongside the target short-term goals. 

Solution: The solution for sustaining employee development lies in encouraging a culture of learning. Organizations must adopt a continuous learning approach by creating opportunities for employees to continue learning, even after the focused training program is completed. This might include planning additional follow-on training programs, building effective learning pathways, providing access to learning platforms like Coursera, or creating internal mentorship programs. 

8) Managing Resistance to Change

Challenge: Another common challenge faced in the implementation of employee training programs is managing the resistance to change from employees. Resistance happens due to a number of reasons: employees are weary of the unknown, they are uncertain about the benefits, they have a lack of understanding about the changes being made, or they are worried about the impact on their day-to-day responsibilities. 

Solution: To reduce and eliminate resistance, organizations need to be open in their communications. They must be proactive in communicating how their employees will benefit, how they will make accommodations for training, and address any concerns their employees have. Organizations also need to be actively listening to their employees while training is ongoing and be prepared and willing to make adjustments to programs to ensure ongoing success. 

9) Actioning Applied Knowledge

Challenge: Research has shown that on average, learners forget up to 70% of what they’ve learnt within the first 24 hours after a training experience. This is known as the ‘Forgetting Curve’ and describes how the percentage of knowledge retained decreases as more days pass after training. This is a common challenge across education and training and requires strategies to help learners retain knowledge. 

Solution: To combat the forgetting curve, organizations need to ensure that their employees have the space to apply their new knowledge in the workplace and put their freshly gained skills into practice. This can happen in a number of ways, for example, creating and assigning experimental projects, tasking employees with sharing their new knowledge with their teams, and launching one-to-one mentorship or coaching programs. 

10) Awarding Employee Development

Challenge: Finally, organizations face challenges around recognizing and rewarding their employees for their achievements. Different outcomes require different types and levels of award. For example, the most common award for professional development is a certificate of completion that the recipient can add to their resume and portfolio. More significant recognition of professional development sees employees gain promotions or awarded bonuses. Certificates of completion incur costs for every award that is issued but once they are in the hands of recipients they offer very little return to the issuing organization. 

Solution: Organizations solve the challenge of recognizing and rewarding employee development by utilizing versatile digital credentials. Digital credentials, including digital badges and digital certificates, enable organizations to issue shareable, verifiable awards to their employees. Their employees can share their digital badge or digital certificate to their social networks, add their digital credential to their LinkedIn profile, and upload their credential to their smartphone digital wallet to use it on-the-go. This allows them to showcase their development while increasing visibility for the training opportunities the organization provides its workforce. Organizations communicate the criteria for earning the credential and the value of earning a digital credential to their employees to help boost motivation for training. Learn more about digital credentials in our resources below:

In Summary

In summary, the challenges faced by organizations looking to implement corporate training for employee development programs are many and varied. From determining the training needs and identifying the best training method, to maintaining employee engagement and measuring the success of training. Organizations need to be prepared to overcome these challenges to ensure their training is effective and sustainable. To do this, organizations need to approach these challenges with a clear and carefully planned strategy and a commitment to fostering a culture of learning and maintaining open communication. This will ensure their employee development program delivers the desired results and contributes to the long-term success of the organizationResearch how digital credentials can support and improve your employee development programs and corporate training and book a platform demo today. Or learn more about digital credentials, how they are used, and how they benefit issuers and recipients in our Digital Credential Buyer’s Guide.

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