Some people stop learning after receiving their high school diploma, while others never stop. The same phenomenon happens in companies. Those who want to grow must continue to learn themselves and develop their employees. Continuous learning, investing in employees’ existing skills, training employees for new professions, enriching them, and upgrading and cultivating talents are all part of the company’s keys to success. Each of these factors greatly contributes to the company’s ability to turn employees into talents, cultivate them and ultimately retain them.
A talent who is aware of his or her value wants to constantly be upgraded – not only in conditions and salary but also in terms of his or her level of expertise. Upgrading employees’ original skills (upskill) and helping them acquire new skills (reskill) enables them to become experts in fields that the organization needs in order to be at the forefront of knowledge and capabilities. Fostering talents’ expertise and providing them with opportunities to develop management and leadership skills enables talents to contribute more to their own careers and to the organization, as well. That is – they grow parallel to the company and not on two separate paths.
Employee care is, of course, not only the employee’s responsibility; today, the importance of the company in this process is understood better than ever before. Companies that invest in building talents rather than simply acquiring them and who conduct ROI-driven training reap the rewards down the road. This is exactly why the L&D (Learning and Development) Department was established.
So what is L&D anyway and what is the importance of such a department to the organization?
“Over the past five years, more and more companies have developed this department– especially large organizations,” explains Jonathan Farache, Head of TechED at Elevation.
“There are many companies who don’t want to lose their high-quality personnel – they want to develop them. This provides added value for employees (not to mention salary increases and other benefits), gives them a good feeling and makes them want to stay in the same workplace. We know that many people leave their places of work because they want to develop and learn new things. However, if the company provides development and learning experiences, employees have more reasons to stay. Another reason employees stay is if they are trained for new positions that the company needs. That is – investing in talents rather than recruiting new employees”. Optimising talents’ skillsets is the name of the game.
“This is a big success story for us,” says Aviv Ziv, Director of Learning & Development at Israeli startup, AppsFlyer. “Our L&D Department offers employee training in addition to customer training which is focused on our product so that they can do their jobs as well as possible”.
How was the L&D Department born?
“We’ve come a long way to get to where we are today,” says Ziv. “Three years ago, we decided to build a new integration and learning process since until that point, every employee who had joined the company had to come learn in Israel for two weeks. So we decided to shift to online learning and today we have the AppsFlyer Academy, which connects our 1,000 employees who are spread out across 18 countries around the world to our headquarters in Israel. This way, they connect to our corporate culture and the products we develop and learn how to work better”.
When does the learning end?
“As far as we’re concerned – never,” Ziv says. “You can’t learn one time and then leave. The world constantly evolves, the industry changes, the product is updated and if you don’t continue to learn, you won’t necessarily remain relevant down the road”.
According to Ziv, “Every employee needs to know how everything works together – not just how his or her specific function plays out. It’s important that the employee knows what’s happening behind the scenes, what people in other departments do and why he or she has to develop what he or she is developing. The employee needs to know everything that’s happening in the company in order to understand the meaning and importance of his or her role in the big picture. That’s also part of the never-ending learning”.
But each worker learns a bit differently and at a different pace.
“That’s why it’s important to cater to each employee’s needs. It helps develop him or her in the best way possible,” Ziv explains. “At the same time, there are things that suit everyone. Today, the emphasis is mainly on developing skills that are not necessarily related to the product itself. For example: as a salesperson, you need to develop your negotiating skills. You come with basic capabilities but there is always something you can learn in order to develop. Customer service strives to improve service and communication. Every position in the company does this”.
All this requires a dedicated department?
“There’s a lot more awareness of employees’ personal development within the company today,” says Farache. “It’s an added value the company gives the employee, and many know to hold it on near equal footing with their salary”. According to Ziv, “Some think it’s a luxury but the opposite is true. The employee begins to learn on day one and never finishes. Even when we were a very small company early on, we developed our first learning program for our employees. When one or two new employees joined the team, we immediately sent them to a learning course. It’s something that’s very much rooted in us because we understand its importance”.
How is L&D success measured?
“There aren’t really many market factors that can positively prove the future success of such a function, but that’s exactly what we at Elevation are currently trying to solve,” explains Farache. “We provide companies with relevant curriculum for the positions they want or need to fill in their organizations. That way, afterwards, we know to say what the employees learned and how much they managed to internalize the material. At the end of the day, everyone comes from a different background. So we first measure what the person in front of us knows before building a unique program that fits that person’s existing and missing knowledge. Just like that, we embark on the learning process. Success stories about employees who make professional transfers within the company, for example, are not lacking. This only highlights the importance of continuous learning and development”.