Studies have shown that companies that invest heavily in employee learning and development programs have much higher levels of engagement—that is, when these programs actually function how they should. It’s estimated that American companies spend about $164.2 billion on learning and development programs, but the problem is most programs simply don’t do what they are supposed to. According to a recent Deloitte study, 87 percent of companies say retention, engagement, and culture are their top priorities. According to the study, improving employee learning programs was the third-highest priority. However, Keith Ferrazzi, CEO of research-based consulting company Ferrazzi Greenlight, analyzed the employee development programs at 16 different billion-dollar companies, and concluded that most of those programs were ineffective. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, he suggests several tweaks to correct that. First, companies should incentivize their managers to coach employees. "Historically, managers passed on knowledge, skills, and insights through coaching and mentoring. But in our more global, complex, and competitive world, the role of the manager has eroded," Ferrazzi writes. "Managers are now overburdened with responsibilities. They can barely handle what they're directly measured on, let alone offer coaching and mentoring. Organizations need to support and incentivize managers to perform this work." Ferrazzi said it’s important to recognize that skills have a short shelf life, and require consistent refreshing. Employees should also be given ownership of their own learning programs.
Ensuring the Success of a Development Program