Hiring talented people is a major competitive advantage — yet it only represents half the battle. Once that talent is in the door, it still needs to be cultivated. By offering ongoing professional development options, companies lay the groundwork for happier and more productive employees. A Learning Management System (LMS), in such a scenario, can help a great deal. Countless possibilities exist on how it can be used; in addition to delivering and managing learning, it can also be used as a valuable career planning tool.
The value of the right LMS solution
Over the last two decades, the use of LMS technology has utterly transformed how educational and training materials are disseminated. Instead of delivering learning material in an inefficient, top-down fashion, schools, organizations and corporations use LMS solutions to offer decentralized training that can be created and distributed virtually anywhere, and on a wide variety of devices.
For employers, this has created the ability to maximize employee skills in a highly efficient manner. Skills gaps may also be mapped out for each individual and then filled, a critical aspect of succession planning. An LMS software helps employees acquire new and relevant capabilities, then later matches those new skills with internal job openings.
Additionally, a good LMS solution often helps the bottom line by creating economies of scale — while providing organizations with a more precise tool for measuring the efficacy or value of their personnel development efforts.
LMS as a career planning tool
As mentioned above, an LMS solution offers a variety of compelling benefits in the context of career planning. Let’s take a deeper look at four of the most prominent planning tool functions:
1. Personalization of Learning
The right LMS solution allows employees to precisely map out their career within a company, offering a level of personalization that allows them to match their specific skills and desires with an organization’s long-term needs. Employees can be provided with a comprehensive career plan that outlines their future with the company. This plan can offer detailed information about what an employee needs to do to progress from step-to-step, clearly illustrating every benchmark and milestone that must be reached in order to achieve promotion.
This kind of tangible, clearly articulated plan is often extremely attractive to employees, as it removes some of the uncertainty from the process. It’s also possible to integrate salary increases, bonuses and other incentives into a personalized career plan. Doing so helps employees understand precisely what they need to do to reach these targets. By making this information explicit, concerns about pay imbalances (or feelings of being taken for granted) can be minimized.
2. Learning management and measurement
Never before has the concept of continuing, lifelong education and training been so relevant. In today’s market, workers who invest in ongoing professional development have a distinct advantage.
LMS solutions are the most efficient way for workers to avail themselves of the career-enhancing benefits of continuing education and training. These systems can create learning programs that align with an employee’s likely career path. This kind of targeted enrichment activity is enormously valuable. LMS technology can also measure the effectiveness of what’s being learned, in terms of personal goals and objectives and overall performance.
3. Identifying learning gaps
From an organizational standpoint, identifying learning gaps in the workforce is a critical part of succession planning. Yet learning gaps are just as important in an employee’s career path context.
LMS solutions can help employees target the areas where their skills are most lacking, filling in gaps that could otherwise hinder their future marketability. Closing these gaps can also improve performance, make employees more versatile, and potentially set them up for a promotion down the road.
4. Career planning and succession
It’s a smart idea to involve workers in career planning and progression initiatives. Eventually, they can be taught how to administer their own learning and training sessions. They can also use the data an LMS generates to derive actionable insights relevant to their career path.
LMS solutions ultimately help employees become more engaged with their own career development. They also give workers a heightened sense of control, accountability and ownership within the process. By offering this kind of career-planning program, employees feel like company leaders are taking a vested interest in their future, nurturing their skills and helping them wring every last drop out or their native abilities.
Employees benefit from this as well, as internal candidates are groomed for future openings, helping smooth future succession issues.
Why are some companies missing out on the advantages of LMS?
Given the significant advantages involved, why do some organizations skimp on employee development and career path planning? Two reasons.
First, many companies simply don’t recognize its great importance. Sure, they understand that professional enrichment is valuable, but they don’t quite grasp just what a differentiator it often is in areas such as succession, morale and retention.
Second, many companies feel they don’t have the time or money to devote significant resources to employee career planning and capability building. Competitive or operational pressures make employee development a lower priority, or stretched budgets can’t accommodate ongoing employee development efforts.
Here’s where the value of LMS shines: Instead of forcing managers and senior personnel to shoulder the burden of employee development, these systems eliminate the need for in-person training. Instead, they offer a digital training tool to which all users have access, around the clock. Employees can use these systems when it’s most convenient, ensuring maximum engagement.
Additionally, when you calculate the financial, time and opportunity costs of handling employee development without the help of an LMS, the potential savings in all three areas become significant. On-demand, digitally-delivered training frees up managers and HR professionals to focus on their core responsibilities and should enhance productivity for everyone involved.
Learning Management Systems have become an invaluable tool for schools, businesses and organizations of all stripes. Used properly, they make the creation and distribution of training content far more efficient and cost-effective.
Leveraging the power of an LMS solution to help with career planning is one of the most appealing functions of the software for many workers. An LMS helps employees close skills gaps, build new capabilities and, ultimately, progress faster along their preferred career path.
The benefits aren’t accrued by employees alone, however. Employers who use LMS technology to help with career planning often are rewarded with happier and more productive workers. By investing in the future of their employees, employers gain more trust and loyalty — two things that are critically important in the never-ending battle for the best talent.