Five things to include in your learning and development strategy

Five things to include in your learning and development strategy

A Deloitte survey found fewer than 45% of training functions have a written business plan for learning. AKA a learning and development strategy.

Does this surprise you?

Plan, strategy, scheme… whatever you want to call it you should have one. This article covers five things to consider whilst creating your learning and development strategy.

Why have a learning and development strategy?

To put it simply, without strategy you don’t have clarity on your direction.

Your learning and development strategy helps to ensure you’re heading in the right direction. It also gives you something to measure success against.

Your L&D strategy should outline where to focus your attention and budget. It should also make clear to leaders and employees what the scope of L&D is.

Having an L&D strategy provides clarity about the purpose and value of learning and development.

Five things to include in your learning and development strategy

1.      Align with the strategic focus of your organisation

This is the most important part of any learning and development strategy.

The purpose of L&D is to improve performance and up-skill employees. Which can’t be done in isolation.

Any performance improvement through development needs to align to the strategic focus of your organisation. To do that, you first need to fully understand the business strategy and the strategic focus for the years ahead.

2.      Outline approach to L&D in terms of vision, goals, metrics and strategic objectives

What does your L&D team set out to achieve and how are you going to measure it? Having a clear approach to training evaluation can help with this.

Some ideas of training measures might be:

  • 100% of employees are competent to do their job
  • Every employee attends their mandatory induction, health and safety training and refreshers
  • All employees complete an appraisal with their line manager
  • Managers are equipped to manage in line with HR procedures – measuring engagement against employee engagement survey results
  • Clear, measurable return on investment on L&D budget

3.      Outlines clearly how L&D supports performance and organisational skills gaps

Do you know what development activity will improve business performance? If your L&D strategy is aligned to business strategy then your answer will be yes.  

Outline clearly in your strategy how you support employees to improve performance. Which will mostly be driven by the key organisational success metrics.

Make clear your approach to identifying skills gaps in the first place. You can do this by sharing your approach to learning needs analysis. Learning needs analysis will help you review yearly if your strategy is still fit for purpose.

“Designing a winning strategy is the art of asking questions, experimenting and then constantly renewing the thinking process by questioning the answers.  No matter how good today’s strategy is, you must always keep reinventing it.”

Constantinos Markides

A great L&D strategy also looks outside of your organisation. It considers the skills needed for tomorrow that align with business strategy. If your L&D strategy is only looking inside the organisation, then it’s too reactive.

As an example, if your organisation were to set up a new office in a new location tomorrow. Would you be crystal clear on what development those new, or transferring employees would need? To get the new location functioning as successful as possible, as quickly as possible? If not, then you need to focus more on supporting performance.

4.      Identify the learning options available and the how to access

Make it clear to employees what learning opportunities are available. Specify how your employees can access learning, is it open to everyone? Is there a formal process to follow? How much budget is available? Etc.

Some ideas for development options to include are below:

  • In-house delivered programmes
  • Externally delivered content
  • Formal qualifications
  • Apprenticeship programmes
  • Talent Development
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Employee Appraisal
  • Management Development
  • Self-directed learning
  • Secondment or shadowing opportunities
  • Graduate programmes

5.      A clear communication plan

Engage with your stakeholders and employees regularly, a strategy is nothing without support and engagement.

Are your key stakeholders aware what your approach to L&D is? Are they clear how you will support performance and are bought into it?

How will you communicate to employees? Will you have a direct approach, or will all L&D communications be cascaded via stakeholders and line managers?

Finally, what’s your approach for celebrating successes and communicating back to stakeholders the impact of L&D? Will you do this formally, or as part of annual learning needs analysis discussions?  Stakeholders want to be clear on the value of L&D and that they are seeing a clear return on investment.


Having a well thought out and clearly structured learning and development strategy is crucial in achieving success.

Strategy doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated, as this post has shown. Join the <45% who have a clear L&D focus today!

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