How your learning and development program can better support a connected culture

By: Tim Schieffer

What you need to know 

  • A learning and development program is just one part of a connected culture.
  • Acknowledging employee differences and meeting the needs that come from those differences is vital to employee engagement.
  • Inviting collaboration in your training efforts not only strengthens company culture but also fosters ownership.


employee working from home participating in learning and development

Learning and development programs are one of the biggest ways employees ask for tools to grow and advance their careers. In fact, almost 60% of employees list professional development as the top area their business should invest in to improve company culture, according to LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends Report. And as an employer, your people are your tools.

But it’s also important to remember that learning and development is just one part of the larger employee engagement story. You want a connected culture. You need a meaningful employee engagement strategy to get there. To do that, you need to infuse your training offerings with the same values that resonate with employees.

Related: 2024 trends HR professionals should evaluate for a connected culture

Understanding what makes an impactful learning and development program

Before you can implement or evolve an impactful learning and development program, understand what support employees expect—on-demand trainings through a learning portal, an individualized plan, access to external trainings, etc. It’s important to understand the basics before examining how training fits within your larger organizational culture. 

Identify the best training content, tool and timing

Choose the right training content for your employees, delivered in the right manner and at the appropriate time. While some office-based employees might learn best during a midday webinar, others who work in the field may need more flexible offerings.

Consider when and where your employees learn best

Know that employee preferences can (and will likely) be different for everyone. It’s vital to have flexibility to fit training seamlessly into employees’ workflows.

Communicate trainings to create excitement

Promote trainings where employees are already looking—from email newsletters and internal websites to physical postings around the office and word-of-mouth from team leaders.

Capitalize on experiential learning

Let employees engage with the information during trainings to empower them to use their knowledge and skills going forward.

Have fun

Add some excitement to your organization’s offerings to have a significant impact on your team’s morale, engagement and information retention.

When these elements are rooted in your company’s core values, they go a long way toward establishing a more connected culture.

Related: How great learning and development programs do it

watch our webinar on improving your employee experience with a connected culture

Going beyond basics to enhance employee engagement

As with other aspects of your business, learning and development programs don’t exist in a vacuum. Go beyond basic offerings to ensure trainings not only connect to but also bolster your company’s connected culture. There are a number of ways to ensure your efforts are impactful and connect on a deeper level.

1. Align your learning and development strategy with business goals

To ensure a cohesive, connected culture, make sure your learning and development program is in line with the growth goals for your business and team.

  • Conduct skills gap analyses
  • Identify priority skills gaps to address through training initiatives
  • Collaborate with business leaders to define skills critical for success
  • Secure buy-in, advocacy and support

2. Implement strong offerings

Take the time necessary to create better learning and development offerings. If you have limited resources, remember that quality is better than quantity. Be intentional with your training by thinking through what the program looks like as a whole.

  • Build a catalog of learning offerings
  • Prioritize ongoing development, not just one-off trainings
  • Support employees’ career growth

3. Evaluate and track trainings’ impact on the business

When you prioritize employee development, you’ll start to see an impact on morale, customer service, job satisfaction and more. Evaluate just how effective the program is to know what’s working well and where to make adjustments.

  • Assess participation rates, skills gained, promotions, etc.
  • Identify areas for improvement

Acknowledging employees’ role differences better meets their needs

There’s no such thing as an average workday. In fact, even within the same department, a “typical” day at the office could look different for every person on your team.

In the same way that incentive and recognition programs aren’t one-size-fits-all, employee engagement programs must work together within a connected culture approach. How you engage employees depends on how you adapt to their needs, and really, how your efforts make them feel. Understanding what causes employees stress and what eases their workload leads to creating a culture that best serves them.

Real-world example

A sales executive has a mix of deskless, office-based and remote work to contend with. They manage client and team relationships that could often demand them to “wear a variety of hats,” and they’re more likely to take work with them wherever they go, even if it’s after traditional hours.

A retail worker typically handles deskless tasks and performs more face-to-face interactions with customers. They’re often juggling multiple tasks that may take a physical toll on their body but are more likely to be able to leave work at work.

While both employees have workplace stressors, their needs and expectations for training will be different. How you respond to those differences and acknowledge their individuality goes a long way in strengthening company culture.  

Related: Employee training motivates sales and service teams to boost customer satisfaction scores

Using learning and development programs to strengthen company culture

Learning and development programs are a top benefit in attracting and retaining top talent. But the employee engagement journey is about more than just professional development. The employee experience is made up of many moments. These can be the big milestones that matter most, but also include the tiny everyday occurrences that make employees feel seen and appreciated.

A connected culture encourages team members to be their true, authentic selves in the workplace and fosters an environment where employees can freely express their ambitions, challenges and opinions. Especially for Gen Z workers, an environment where they feel seen and appreciated for their unique perspectives and skill set is necessary. 

To stay competitive and foster a strong connected culture, organizations must create better employee experiences for team members not only through learning and development programs but also within cohesive employer branding, employee communications and employee recognition.

As employees develop stronger connections with your company’s culture through various efforts, remember to: 

Ask for feedback and input regularly

Involving everyone will identify brand champions who will help you elevate the overall employee experience. 

Conduct ongoing communication

Ensure everyone hears cohesive messages by communicating clearly and consistently. 

Celebrate progress

Reinforce positive behaviors so employees adopt the right ones. 

By connecting your organization’s culture to every area of the employee experience—beyond traditional learning and development solutions—you’ll help your organization create a powerful environment that employees feel passionate about engaging in.

Ready to dive deep into connected culture? Watch our on-demand webinar.

watch our webinar on improving employee experience with a connected culture
Tim Schieffer
Tim Schieffer

Tim is the Employee Experience Insights and Strategy Leader for ITA Group. With 20+ years of experience serving clients in multiple industries, including e-commerce, communications and finance, he offers a unique perspective on how to attract and retain top talent. His passion for delivering personalized employee engagement strategies helps create cultures centered on empowering people. Outside of work, you'll find him cheering on the Green Bay Packers as a proud part-owner. Go Pack Go!