Learning for All:

5 Elements of a Successful Learning Strategy

April 13th, 2023 – SkillCycle

A computer on a desk shows a screen with four people in a meeting with the person sitting at the desk who holds a piece of paper.

Creating a learning strategy and implementing it successfully across your organization is no small undertaking. However, when done properly, it can spur positive growth for employees and the company. 

“The ideal state of a learning culture is when everyone’s bought in, everyone’s applying themselves, and everyone is winning,” says Rebecca Taylor, Co-founder and CCO of SkillCycle. 

Identifying critical components of a successful learning strategy is key to effectively providing learning for all in your company. To achieve this, HR leaders must understand and communicate how data is connected to learning, talent, and business outcomes. With this approach, employees and management should be able to tie together learning experiences and outcomes. 

Why should everyone in your organization care about creating an effective learning strategy? On average, companies spend about a third of their revenue on human and organizational capital, reports McKinsey. “Your talent is one of your greatest assets, and if people aren’t growing, they’re depleting,” says Taylor. “You should always be investing in your portfolio of people, so they can drive a strong return for you and your business.”


In this article you’ll find:
  • The five key elements of a successful learning strategy
  • What organizations often get wrong about learning strategies
  • How a successful learning strategy supports employee learning and development

5 key aspects of a learning strategy that actually works

Successful learning experiences happen when you connect people and performance data to actual development, which then connects to feedback, goals, roles, jobs, and true return on investment. 

People success means providing opportunities for employees to excel in their work and  perform at their highest level. Insights from people success data help organizations measure progress and impact throughout the learning journey. 

“Data leads to actual development within the systems that can connect it and provide real return on investment,” says Kristy McCann Flynn, Co-founder and CEO of SkillCycle.

At the heart of a successful learning strategy are five critical components that work together to help organizations reap the benefits of a strong learning culture.


1. Data-driven insights

Companies need data to understand how people started and where they’re going on their learning journeys. Data provides you with insights that help you plan what kind of learning to build, who to deploy it to, and how to make it relevant. 

People success data can also help you measure whether your strategy is effective or not. It’s critical to assess skills, not just in each employee, but broadly across the company. What skills does your organization hold, who owns them, and what skills does your company need to achieve its desired outcomes? 

2. Relevance of learning experiences

Learning is most effective when the skills gained are relevant to an employee’s job and success. Relevant learning is key to helping your employees understand what’s in it for them. When you connect learning to improved skills that will help them achieve better results, the learning suddenly has more value for both the employee and the manager. Relevance can help drive engagement and success. 

3. Time investment

Be willing to invest the time, not just for people to attend learning experiences, but for allowing new skills time to develop. Learning is an incremental process that doesn’t happen overnight. It’s often helpful to review data collected before and after a learning program to see how new skills contribute to better employee performance. For example, a month after training, a sales associate may be better at identifying new opportunities which eventually drives improved sales results. 

4. Resource provision

You’ll need to invest resources in your learning strategy to drive positive business outcomes. This investment could include a system to bring all your learning and development data into one place. Creating opportunities for learning and coaching will take time from people while they are at work. It takes a village to raise every employee and grow a company, so you’ll need resources and buy-in from your executives. 

5. Alignment across the organization

If you don’t have alignment, components become disjointed and fail to drive positive outcomes. HR leaders can work with stakeholders to increase buy-in and ensure the learning experiences they create are relevant to business outcomes. In return, leadership and management should look for business value and not resist those conversations.  

What organizations often get wrong about learning strategies

Companies can miss the mark when creating learning strategies by having data in multiple, disconnected systems that don’t work together as part of the learning journey. Isolated efforts won’t drive the results needed for employees or organizations. 

Another common challenge occurs when HR is tasked with developing solutions seen as separate from desired business goals and outcomes. Instead, managers and leaders should be brought into building learning strategies so they have ownership of decisions and results. 

“A successful learning strategy needs a system that ties everything together into one learning journey that supports business outcomes,” says Taylor. 

Learning should have positive connotations within your organization. When learning is built into your culture, it becomes ingrained and develops into a habit. Learning should be seen as an opportunity to do better and achieve more, rather than a remedial solution or extra-curricular activity. 

“We have this perception of what talent means,” says McCann Flynn, noting that development is often needed before employees can truly demonstrate what they’re capable of. “Talent is not a single point in time, it’s evergreen learning with evergreen cost savings and multiples of return.”

How a successful learning strategy supports learning for all

One significant benefit of creating an effective learning strategy is offering equitable access to learning for all. A well-crafted learning strategy provides an environment for people from all walks of life to grow within the company. 

A culture of learning based on objective data identifies which skills an employee needs, how they’ll develop the skills, and the outcomes they’ll achieve based on their learning. In this kind of environment, people are promoted based on performance and competence.

It’s not just employees who benefit from this approach—when people are developed ethically within an organization, the organization also grows. Leaders can make better business decisions and avoid missteps, while the company can become innovative overall. 

Potential hires are also paying attention. Organizations that invest in developing their employees tend to attract talent more easily and enjoy better retention numbers, according to McKinsey. “It’s in every company’s best interest to take a data-centric and ethical perspective on who they hire and how they grow them,” adds Taylor.

Learning for all brings everyone at all levels along for the company’s success. It opens up pathways to leadership for all through equitable access, assessments, and behaviors—and creates a much less biased path for growth and promotion. 

A successful learning strategy must be strongly connected to everything driving the company forward. Find out how an easy-to-use learning experience platform can support learning for all in your organization.


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