How to launch a corporate learning program
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The 4 steps to rolling out an effective corporate learning program that will drive true value for your business.

Creating a corporate learning program can pay off in a number of ways for your company. By investing in the continued education of your employees, you'll improve morale and retention, increase efficiency, and help drive your business forward. Simply put, you'll make people better at their jobs. To launch a corporate learning program that delivers measurable return-on-investment (ROI), follow these four steps.

Assessment

"Businesses need to clearly understand the needs of the people who are going to be trained," says Randy Reagan, business services training manager at Regions Bank. "What are their deficiencies? What skills do they need to improve? Once you've identified your employees' needs, you can set clear objectives."

Corporate learning programs are often designed to improve sales, customer service, or efficiency, or to educate employees about a new program or product. No training program should begin without a clearly articulated goal. You need to understand its purpose and how you'll define success.

Design

Once you understand the goals of your training, you can design the corporate learning program. At this stage, it's important to get input from others in the business. Small business executives often wear many hats, so it's likely you or a small team will be handling most of these steps. Try to involve the organization as much as possible. Seek feedback from colleagues who possess the skillset you're addressing, or consider bringing in outside expertise.

Alan Todd, CEO of CorpU, a technology firm focused on applying the science of learning in organizations, suggests designing the corporate training to be as interactive as possible. "Programs are most effective when a group of people are working together to solve a key business challenge and applying newly-learned skills together and immediately," he says.

Delivery

Before you roll out your corporate training program, be sure to inform participants about its objectives. "We find that associates respond better to training when there has been clear communication in advance about the training's purpose and our expectations," says Reagan.  

He also suggests involving management in the training sessions. This conveys the significance of the training to the participants and makes managers better able to follow up after the sessions. "A manager's job after training is to continue to coach participants on what they've learned. If it all stops the moment training ends, the benefits of the training go way down," he says.

Inspection

Analyze the effectiveness of your corporate learning program so you can determine the best way to move forward. Set a plan for ongoing assessment that includes additional training as necessary. Be sure you've established a performance baseline prior to the training so that afterwards, you can reassess people's performances and determine if there has been improvements.

When assessing ROI, "it is also important to define the cost of inaction," says Todd. "Ask yourself, 'What would happen if we did not make this corporate learning investment?' By quantifying the cost of inaction, you have a return-on-investment framework against which you can measure all learning outcomes."

Corporate learning programs help companies stay competitive and better reach their goals. "Businesses that invest in developing their key talent will launch products faster, serve customers better, and execute strategies more rigorously," says Todd.

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This information is general in nature and is provided for educational purposes only. Information provided and statements made by employees of Regions should not be relied on or interpreted as accounting, financial planning, investment, legal, or tax advice. Regions encourages you to consult a professional for advice applicable to your specific situation. Information provided and statements made by individuals who are not employees of Regions are the views, opinions, or positions of the individual who made the statement and do not necessarily reflect the policies, views, opinions, and positions of Regions. Regions makes no representations as to the accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information presented.