Creating a Learning Culture

Outcomes from CFI’s first L&D day

L&D at CFI

As an online training provider for finance and banking professionals, we know the critical role that learning and development (L&D) plays in attracting and retaining top talent. Our business customers use CFI’s courses, resources, and programming to provide skill development and career progression opportunities to their employees while increasing engagement, productivity, and retention. 

And we try to do the same for our team as well. Historically we have supported internal L&D in three primary ways:

  1. Everyone at CFI has unlimited access to our entire catalog of courses and certifications.
  2. To further support our staff in pursuing ongoing education and professional development, we also provide an annual learning allowance to cover registration fees, tuition, learning material, and other program costs which can be applied to professional or personal development. 
  3. We also assist employees that are required to pay professional dues to maintain professional credentials.

This year we wanted to take our L&D mission a step further. To that end, we’ve introduced L&D days, a unique initiative designed to provide dedicated time for skill enhancement and personal development equally across the entire organization. The goal of this initiative is to elevate the importance of continuous learning within our organization and ensure everyone has time to invest in their development throughout the year. 

What is an L&D Day?

L&D days are scheduled for the entire company every three months on the third Wednesday and are a quarterly investment in our staff’s professional development, providing them with paid time to engage in activities that align with their learning goals. Whether it’s enrolling in online courses, attending webinars, or exploring new resources, our employees have the freedom to choose the most effective learning avenues for their growth.

Our team members’ feedback following our first L&D day was overwhelmingly positive. Here are some of the key insights they shared:

  • Personal development focus: Our employees appreciated the dedicated time to focus on their personal development. With the demands of day-to-day work, finding uninterrupted time for learning can be challenging. The L&D day enabled them to prioritize growth without distractions, emphasizing the company’s commitment to their advancement.
  • Empowered learning choices: Our staff highly values the freedom to choose their learning activities. They commended their managers for encouraging them to pursue learning opportunities aligned with their interests and goals. This autonomy empowered employees to explore diverse resources, including CFI courses, LinkedIn Learning, books, and YouTube videos, enabling them to develop new skills and brainstorm innovative ideas.
  • Overcoming training gaps: The L&D day proved instrumental for teams with limited training opportunities, such as our Customer Success department. One team member took the initiative to utilize their learning allowance to purchase a course, refreshing their knowledge and enhancing their customer service skills. This exemplifies the impact of L&D days in bridging training gaps and empowering employees to take charge of their personal growth.
  • Enhanced focus and valued time: Knowing that the entire company was dedicating time to L&D simultaneously fostered a sense of unity and purpose. Employees appreciated disconnecting from their usual work routines, disabling notifications, and immersing themselves in focused learning. This uninterrupted time created an environment where employees could absorb knowledge effectively and efficiently.
  • Cultivating a culture of learning: The L&D day showcased CFI’s commitment to employee development, highlighting the value placed on continuous learning. Staff members expressed their appreciation for having the opportunity to refresh their knowledge, acquire new skills, and feel more valued within the organization. This positive sentiment contributes to a culture that encourages curiosity, growth, and collaboration.

What We Learned from CFI’s First L&D Day

Our team also provided fantastic feedback to make improve our future L&D days. Based on that, we identified several areas where we can enhance the experience, including: 

  • Extending the duration: Based on the feedback requesting more time for learning, we have decided to transition from a half-day to a full-day L&D format. This adjustment will give our team an extended period to immerse themselves in their chosen learning activities, offering a more comprehensive and enriching experience.
  • Creating pre-event buzz: To generate excitement and facilitate better planning for our L&D days, we will host an L&D Day Planning Session for People Leaders (PLs) a few weeks before the event. This session will empower PLs to assist their teams in selecting learning activities and provide guidance and support throughout the process. Furthermore, as the L&D day approaches, we will help keep it top of mind with Slack announcements in the weeks leading up to the event, addressing various aspects of utilizing the time effectively.
  • Reinforcing expectations: Recognizing the significance of establishing transparent expectations to maximize the impact of L&D days, we will proactively communicate and reinforce these expectations. This will involve reminding employees to maintain a quiet Slack environment, encouraging them to silence notifications, and emphasizing the importance of prioritizing learning and development throughout the day. By consistently reinforcing these expectations, we cultivate an environment that fosters focused learning and personal growth.
  • Implementing contingency plans: Recognizing that certain teams, such as Customer Support, may face challenges in fully participating in L&D days due to workload and customer communication requirements, we will develop contingency plans for those teams. For example, by establishing a coverage plan where team members rotate their L&D days within a specific week, we can ensure customer needs are met while still allowing individuals to engage in their personal development. We will work closely with the respective teams to determine the specifics and adjust accordingly.
  • Incorporating accountability and sharing success stories: To foster a sense of accountability and inspire others, we will introduce small group debriefs at the end of the L&D day. Random groups of ten employees will meet to discuss and report on their chosen learning activities, explaining why they selected them, how they benefited, and any key insights gained. This process will create opportunities for shared learning, cross-team collaboration, and accountability. 

We’re committed to continuously improving our L&D initiatives, and we believe that fostering a culture of continuous learning is key to helping our team members reach their goals and unlock their potential. By offering this structured initiative, we not only address the desire for learning opportunities within our team but also nurture a culture that values personal and professional advancement. 

As L&D professionals, human resource leaders, executives, and entrepreneurs, we encourage you to consider implementing similar initiatives in your organizations, as investing in your employees’ growth is an investment in your company’s success. Let’s empower our teams to unlock their full potential through learning and development opportunities.

Additional Resources

Learning as a Part of Organizational Culture

Why Online Training for Finance Teams Makes Sense

Why Skills Matter More than Degrees Do

See all team development resources

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