What makes a learning and development program effective? There are, of course, many different elements that contribute to the success of workplace learning programs, not least of which are the program development and delivery. However, at an even more basic level, there are things employers can do while planning learning programs that may help them to be successful.


Here we share four principles for effective learning and development programs.

Leadership: Your management team plays an important role in the success of any learning program. They are the ones working most closely with employees day to day, so they are in the best position to make sure the outcomes of the learning are put into action and to provide further coaching where required. Make sure they are properly briefed on the learning program, its objectives and how they can help their teams to apply the new skills on the job.

Outcomes: For learning and development programs to be successful, employees must understand the why, not just the how. Why are they participating? What will they learn? How will it change the way they do their jobs? And what are they trying to achieve? Even better, make sure the objectives are measurable so your managers and the employees themselves can gauge the success of the learning.

Strategy: While training programs often focus on operational objectives, it is important to also consider the strategic context too – what strategic objectives will this training achieve? Aligning the organisation’s strategic goals with the learning program’s operational activities is a key way to engage employees and help them to understand how their day-to-day work contributes to the organisation’s goals.

Context: Encourage employees to share their past experiences during the training. For the individual, it’s a useful way to put the learning in context and to help the employee see how the learning will be applied to their everyday work. For the group, hearing personal stories helps other employees understand the purpose and objectives of the training.


In addition to the obvious desirable benefits of effective training, for some learning programs, there is a legal aspect which is also important. The new Draft Code of Practice – Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying, which is due to be implemented this year, is very clear on an organisation’s responsibility to train its workers on workplace bullying and related issues. A range of information dissemination options are given in the Code, however, the effectiveness of training has already become a contentious and high profile issue. Already this year, iHR Australia noted the case of a global company that has been ordered to pay out $18,000 because of inadequate training. With this in mind, we can see that it is essential for organisations to ensure they are getting it right.

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