Category All, Best Practices How Employee Recognition Supports Learning and Development Learn how employee recognition can support learning and development in companies through specific techniques. January 14, 2021 By Sara Ana Cemazar Learning and development have always been one of the most important policies a company has to offer. Not only does the prospect of learning and growing in the role attract Millennial and Gen Z workers, it also helps companies retain their most valuable highly skilled workforce. However, learning and development policies’ biggest ROI is proven in closing the growing skill gap that a lot of companies lately struggle with. In other words, learning and development policies are implemented to help companies stay competitive in their markets through upskilling its own workforce. Additional benefits lie, among other, in the improved employer branding. So, where does employee recognition come in play considering learning and development? As a matter of fact, employee recognition is one of learning and development’s core elements. Main principles of employee recognition are the ones of encouraging desired behavior and appropriation of new skills by supporting individuals in their aspiration to learn. In this article, you will learn how employee recognition amplifies the effect companies want to see by implementing learning and development policies. Moreover, you will find out what are specific techniques for stimulating learning and development in your company by using employee recognition. 📚 Before we start, take a look at our Employee Recognition Playbook to get the A-to-Z guide on employee recognition. Why Learning and Development Policies Matter According to Gartner’s research, building critical skills and competencies is a top priority for 68% of HR leaders in 2021. This is no surprise since 75% of HR Professionals say there is a shortage of skills in candidates for job openings. Let’s see in what specific ways does learning and development assist companies in attaining their business- and employee-related goals. Stimulating employee engagement Employee engagement is one of the most popular HR metrics. It is used to determine employees’ motivation and the quality of their output, as well as to see how satisfied employees are in their role. Employee engagement depends on many factors. However, when all the basic requirements for employee engagement are satisfied – fair compensation, inclusive benefits and work-life balance – employees’ top motivator are opportunities for development. Moreover, learning and development policies are especially important to younger generations that are taking over workplaces. According to Gallup, 87% of Millennials say that professional career growth and development opportunities are important to them in a job. Lowering employee turnover Improving employee retention is a frequent ROI of HR Professionals. As employee turnover depends on multiple factors, it is not always an easy task. Moreover, it often means applying systemic changes that take a lot of time and resources to implement. Among many tactics that are applied for lowering employee turnover, one stands out: implementing and maintaining high quality learning and development policies. Astonishing 93% of employees would stay at a company if it invested in their careers. On the other side, employees that receive poor training and no learning and development opportunities often quit within their first year of employment. Building and strengthening employer brand Employer branding is a discipline on its own, and its main advocates know that nothing beats the word of employees when it comes to company’s reputation. Employees’ own words on their experience, work atmosphere and growth opportunities can be shared in various marketing channels but also within professional communities. In other words, it makes no sense to invest in employer branding efforts if what you’re trying to convey is not truthful. Investing in learning and development opportunities is a step that leads to better Glassdoor reviews and more truthful first-hand experience stories that will attract others to work in your company. Improving customer satisfaction Your employees’ adoption of new skills is translated into creating better products for your customers and giving your customers better service. This is why employee development directly translates into improved customer satisfaction scores. The connection between learning and development and customer satisfaction can be direct and indirect. Direct one would include providing continuous learning and development opportunities to your customer service representatives. On the other hand, an indirect connection is realized when comprehensive learning and development policies improve your employees’ engagement, thus improving their output in all lines of business. Scaling company growth The most straightforward benefit of investing in learning and development is retaining top talent in your company. By doing that, you are allowing your company to scale its growth by employing and retaining innovative, forward-thinking professionals. This is exactly why 68% of employees say training and development are company’s most important policies. They benefit both the employers who get to advance their knowledge and careers, and employers who grow their business. Now, let’s see why and how employee appreciation affects learning and development in companies. How Employee Recognition Affects Learning and Development On one hand, your company invents time and resources into developing and enforcing learning and development policies. On the other hand, your employees can be more or less interested and enthused about these policies. Research tells us that an overwhelming percentage of employees, especially young ones, care about professional growth and learning opportunities. But, what role does employee recognition play in all this? Employee recognition is one of employers’ most popular tools for engaging employees and improving company culture. As such, it is naturally suited for supporting learning and development and enhancing its outcomes. Here are specific ways in which employee recognition assists learning and development in companies. Higher employee engagement Recognizing effort is a proven way of engaging employees. In fact, 58% of employees say their employers could engage them better by recognizing them. Increased motivation to learn There is intrinsic and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic employee motivation is harder to achieve, but it is also more durable and brings better results. Luckily, employee recognition is a powerful motivator. Non-monetary recognition in a form of regular positive feedback (informal one too) is a way to unlock your employees’ desire to learn and grow in their role. 📚 See how you can incentivize your employees to go the extra mile. Improved company culture Since 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe that a distinct company culture is crucial for company success, why not enhance it? Contrary to the belief, competitive company culture brings only short-term results, while a positive one where individual and group contributions are recognized is optimal for achieving best results. Employee recognition helps build stronger connections between managers and their teams, as well as between employees themselves. Peer-to-peer recognition is especially beneficial for improving company culture, and is also 35% more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager recognition only. Sharing of knowledge As employee recognition improves company culture and employees’ relationships, chances of knowledge sharing are heightened. According to Forbes, 70% of learning on the job occurs informally. Therefore, implementing best employee recognition practices is conducive to learning and development of employees within a company. Beware: external rewards may have an unwanted effect Although employee recognition encourages learning and development in multiple ways, one has to be careful when implementing an employee recognition program. Namely, research on motivation does state that rewards have a positive effect on motivation, but only for those individuals that are not already intrinsically motivated. According to American Psychological Association, tangible monetary rewards may not benefit learning on tasks that people would perform without extrinsic incentives. What this teaches us is that you need to conduct multiple employee surveys to find out what kind of recognition would be best suited for your workforce at large. Moreover, the individual employee reviews are needed to establish different kinds of motivation already present in your employees so you could spark the fire for learning and achieving more. 📚 Get these editable employee evaluation forms to help you assess your employees’ motivation and development potential. Best Employee Recognition Techniques for Stimulating Learning and Development When implementing an employee recognition program, its most important aspect is smart design. The importance of smart design is doubled when you are looking to achieve goals as specific as enhancing learning and development. As mentioned before in the article, your employee recognition program has to rely on your internal research on what would work best for your company. Not all employees nor companies are the same, so you can rely on others’ experience to certain amount. It is best to build a recognition program that relies on your own internal research. Here are some specific ways on how you can facilitate learning and development through employee recognition in your company. 1. Tie employee recognition to specific outcomes First step in designing an employee recognition program is tying it to company’s mission and values. Apart from that, it should be tied to specific learning and development outcomes in your company. For example, allocate a reward for employees finishing a certain course or achieving a learning outcome you have jointly set. 2. Personalize employee journey Employee journey maps are helpful visualizations that help you pin down all important aspects of each employees’ journey in your company. Moreover, they should include employee development plans, especially if you are focusing on learning and development. When development plans are put in place, you should once again tie their outcomes to your employee recognition program. 📚 Find out how to design and implement employee development plans to assist your employees’ growth. 3. Reward both individual and group achievements People learn in many ways. Some prefer online courses, while others benefit more from live lectures. In any case, it is important to diversify your learning strategy and include both individual and group efforts in it. That way, you will not only be inciting individuals’ learning and development, but also sharing of knowledge. 4. Facilitate peer-to-peer recognition Employees have a lot to learn from their superiors, but also from their peers. Therefore, you can consider implementing a learning buddy system, or facilitate internal share of knowledge through small work groups. As such, peer-to-peer recognition, where employees recognize each other for sharing knowledge or teaching them how to perform a task, is conducive to learning and development. 5. Social recognition Social component of employee recognition is a vital part of any recognition strategy. Social recognition in a form of social wall where employees can see recognition taking place, which motivates them to perform actions they see others are appreciated for. In other words, it amplifies the message of recognition taking place. For example, employees seeing their peers being noticed and appreciated by their managers for finishing a course, or even being awarded with monetary rewards for it, could incite more learning and development taking place in the whole company. 6. Choosing the right software A final, yet one of most important steps on your path to tying employee recognition to learning and development, is choosing the right software that will allow you to realize your plans. As this task is complex, especially in larger companies, you can get our buyer’s guide for recognition and rewards software to help you out. Moreover, check out what JobPts, our own recognition platform, has to offer and how our clients are linking their learning and development achievements with employee recognition.