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5 min read

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Designing Your L&D Programs

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Designing Your L&D Programmes

Remember the famed fable of The Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf? If there’s one life lesson to take away from it, it’s to plan strategically, knowing that the foundation is the most crucial part of your fortress. This underrated life lesson holds true in the corporate world, when one is designing L&D programs for instance. Did you know that asking yourself the right questions is already half the battle won when it comes to designing your L&D programs?

This is because as the Harvard Business Review aptly puts it, not only is the majority of training in today’s companies ineffective, but the purpose, timing and content of training is flawed. Employees seem to agree: only 12% of employees apply skills learned in L&D programs to their jobs, and only 25% — according to a McKinsey survey — believe that training measurably improved performance. Asking yourself these questions before designing your L&D programs can help you to design programs that strike a chord with your target audience.

How Much Time Should My Employees Be Spending on L&D?

Be realistic about how much time you want your employees to be spending on L&D. According to a 2019 survey published by job networking site LinkedIn, the most significant challenge for employees to take up learning was the lack of time, with 57% of Singaporean employees saying so. Acknowledge that your employees are going to be time-strapped and allocate just one hour every week to L&D. Anything shorter will lose the value of frequency and repetition; anything longer might distract your employees from their day-to-day tasks and neglect short-term results.

How Should I Make Use of Repetition and Reinforcement?

Do you still recall what you learnt from your university days? Likely not. In the late 19th century, German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus pioneered experimental studies of memory, culminating in his discovery of “The Forgetting Curve”. Perhaps his most shocking discovery is that if new information isn’t applied, we’ll forget about 75% of it after six days! In the context of L&D, this means that your employees will forget what they have learned within the first month.

One tried-and-tested way to combat memory loss is through spaced repetition — a learning methodology where learners are presented with material they have to learn in a timed session, with a short break provided after they have completed it. Spaced repetition boosts memory retention because the learner studies the information, and periodically returns to review it in order to retain the knowledge. The spacing between each session could be as short as several hours or as long as one week apart; the key is to achieve repetition.

How Do My Audiences Want to Learn?

The stark reality today is that many organizational training programs continue to focus on a one-size-fits-all paradigm, resulting in one-size-not-fitting anyone. A standardized, cookie-cutter L&D programme is passé, says Indy Lachar, Group Talent Director of Robert Walters. Don’t believe her? L&D professionals and businesses alike concede that personalised L&D is the way to go for the future: 77% of L&D professionals think personalized learning is vital to engagement, and 94% of businesses agree that personalization is crucial to their success.

Recognize that every employee has his or her own preferred way of learning: some of us are audio learners, while others are kinesthetic learners. Different employees also have different workstyles. Hence, while you can introduce the same content and topics as part of your L&D programs, you need to establish different learning mediums. Let’s say you want to drive resilient leadership for all your managers and leaders. Your sales leaders who are always on-the-go might enjoy a more mobile delivery of this topic, for example, through podcasts, while they are in a taxi. In contrast, your finance leaders might enjoy reading articles and watching videos on their laptops from their office.

How is My Company’s Culture Like?

A workplace culture consists of shared beliefs and values established by the management and then communicated and reinforced through various channels, ultimately shaping employees’ behavior and values. The Society of Human Resources Management describes workplace culture as “the glue that holds an organization together. It is a silent code of conduct.” Hence, organizational culture sets the context for everything an organization does, including L&D. Conversely, L&D also has the potential to shape a company’s culture of learning organically.

Ask yourself what your company’s culture is like and how the L&D programs you roll out will be received by your employees. If your organizational culture is bottom-up, then top-down L&D agendas that guide your employees to learn in a particular direction may not be well-received. Instead, go for bottom-up L&D programs that capitalize on employee-generated learning.

Who Should Be My Employees’ Role Models?

While the term “role models” may have fallen out of fashion since it was coined by famed sociologist Robert K. Merton in the early part of the 20th century, role models still serve a useful function in the business context. Unlike formal mentorship arrangements where a significant amount of investment is required on the part of both parties to operationally tie them together, role modeling is more loose and aspirational. Your choice of instructors, mentors, and experts will tell your organization who their role mentors should be, especially in behavioral training.

Before you scoff, know that the aspirational value of role modeling has long been established by scientific literature. For example, the Motivational Theory of Role Modelling mooted by Morgenroth, Ryan and Peters, highlights ways in which the power of role models can be harnessed to increase role aspirants’ motivation, reinforce their existing goals, and facilitate their adoption of new goals. You can easily bring in role models through digital and scalable platforms like Tigerhall, which is home to over 450 aspirational and prominent Thinkfluencers.

Remember, if there’s a moral of the story underpinning the parable of The Three Little Pigs, it’s that a good foundation comes before everything else. A wobbly foundation can cause your company to collapse like a house of cards when the gentle wind blows, while a firm foundation can render your company infallible even when the gales of disruption strike. Ask yourself the right questions and build a solid foundation for your company’s L&D programs today.

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