What is Employee Learning and Development?.

Written by Tim Newham

16 August 2023

learning management system

what is employee learning and development?

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Looking for information on employee learning and development? We share exactly what it is and how to implement it into your organisation.

Training and upskilling employees is a hot topic for organisations worldwide right now.

More than ever before, technology is changing the way we work and our people need the interpersonal and tech skills to keep up.

Learning and development (L&D) teams aren’t new for large, corporate companies.

But with a technological revolution in our midsts; organisations of all sizes should be looking to L&D to support their teams.

In this blog, we’ll go through:

  • What learning and development is
  • Why HR should care about learning and development
  • Why learning and development is important for employees
  • 5 ways to implement learning to your organisation
  • Topic ideas for your own learning and development

Let’s get started.

What is learning and development?

Learning and development (L&D) is a function within an organisation that encourages employee growth and aims to develop their knowledge, skills and experience to drive better business results.

what is employee learning and development

This function might live under the HR team, be decentralised throughout different teams, or be one independent L&D team.

The primary goal of an L&D team is simple: to empower employees’ growth and develop their skills and capabilities.

This is a people-centric team, who champion employees personal and professional development, whilst ensuring the skills developed contribute to the long-term success of the organisation.

With the responsibility for driving talent growth in organisations, there’s a lot of expectations placed upon L&D teams.

And for many organisations, they may not have an L&D team at all.

Instead, this responsibility often falls on the shoulders of one or two people, who sit within the wider HR team. A HR team that has very different objectives to L&D.

So, why should HR care about L&D?

In the simplest terms, HR is responsible for employee relations.

From the first interview all the way through to assisting employees as they move on from the company.

And you’d rightly assume that L&D sits somewhere in the middle of that – helping employees at the organisation gain new skills and qualifications to grow as individuals.

But unfortunately, due to the multitude of other priorities on HR’s plate, L&D often becomes an afterthought. And that needs to change.

The demands of the workforce are changing. Instead of choosing employers based on salaries and location, people are choosing employers based on the impact they have on their entire life.

So HR needs to care about L&D, if they care about attracting and retaining top talent in their organisation.

Why is learning and development so important to employees?

There has been a shift in sentiment towards learning in recent years.

Corporate learning has changed from a dreaded task on the to-do list, to something employees actually want to do.

Why? Because Millennials and Gen-Z, who now make up the majority of the workforce, see learning as a way to future-proof their career growth.

  • To improve at their job
  • To make more money
  • To get promoted

So with our employees hungry to learn, it’s time to prioritise learning and development.

5 methods of employee learning and development

If your last interaction with a formal learning intervention was at school or university, you might be scratching your head as to how you’ll be able to implement formal learning in your company.

But have no fear, here are 5 ways you can help your employees learn at work:

  1. Intstructor-led training
  2. e-Learning
  3. Blended learning
  4. Microlearning
  5. Learning on the job

Instructor-led training (ILT)

ILT is probably the closest to the learning we remember from school or college.

In today’s increasingly hybrid workplaces, bringing employees together for face-to-face learning experiences is becoming increasingly difficult. This is why many organisations now offer Virtual Instructor-led Training (VILT) – using webinar platforms such as Zoom or Microsoft Teams.


E-learning is one of the most common forms of corporate learning and development. Using an authoring tool, L&D practitioners create engaging, immersive and educational courses – that employees can take at their own pace.

This method of asynchronous learning allows employees to take charge of their own learning and development, often allowing them to learn at any time, from anywhere.

Blended learning

Blended learning is becoming increasingly popular in workplaces.

As employees want to take ownership of their growth and development, and organisations want to ensure the right skills are being acquired – blended learning provides the perfect balance.

Blended learning integrates a multitude of different learning experiences (for example, ITL, e-Learning and webinars) into one learning journey to boost learner retention.


Microlearning is the concept of taking a topic and breaking it down into short, digestible chunks.

It’s more engaging, fits around the working day and gives your employees the resources they need, exactly when they need it.

Of course, this type of learning isn’t ideal for very complex topics. But if your learners need to know something specific in the flow of work – microlearning is your best friend.

Learning on-the-job

Although this is a tricky learning method to measure and track, it shouldn’t be overlooked by L&D professionals.

A great way to implement this in your organisation is through mentorship programmes.

Must include employee learning and development topics

So now you know the training methods at your disposal, what are the must-include topics for your learning and development initiatives?

Here are 3 that we think every organisation could benefit from:

Communication, problem solving and teamwork

These skills used to get the name of ‘soft skills’ but in more recent years, the term power skills has come to fruition.

And for good reason too, there is nothing ‘soft’ or easy about these skills.

Instead these are the skills your employees need to succeed in their career, no matter their role. Make sure you have a provision of communications training, problem solving development and teamwork skills within your employee L&D offering.


Compliance gets a bad rap, but it’s likely to be a critical part of your L&D strategy.

Depending on your industry, the types of topics that fall in here will vary. But for most organisations health and safety at work takes the top spot.

If you want to keep your employees enthusiastic about learning, think about how you can ensure you capture and keen their interest during your compliance training.

Leadership training

We mentioned earlier that millennials and Gen-Z have their eyes on promotion, so including leadership training in your offering is a must.

Many organisations limit leadership training to those already in a leadership role, but for the best success – leave these programmes and resources open to anybody who wants to get involved!

How Think Learning can help you better manage employee learning and development

If you’re ready to roll out your organisation’s employee learning and development initiatives, you need a powerful learning platform to help you deliver it.

And luckily for you, we’re here to help.

From ensuring compliance and upskilling, to selling modules and assigning learning budgets, the Think Learning offering solves all your learning tech needs.