As the role of Learning and Development (L&D) continues to evolve, to ensure success, it is essential for organisations to maintain good practice through the adaptation of their policies and practices. Finsbury Food Group has over 9 sites which all operate independently and therefore for the basis of the report, Lightbody of Hamilton site will be the focus. Lightbody recognise L&D as a huge enabler of business success and therefore launched a project to understand how the current L&D function compares to other organisations and best practice. The current practices of Lightbody’s L&D function have been compared to those of Business Stream, to identify possible opportunities. The report will focus on the findings of the project and will discuss the similarities and differences between both organisations. It will analyse the key influencing factors of achieving L&D practices and discuss how the L&D function can contribute to the achievement of the organisations objectives.
Figure 1, outlines the key organisational similarities and differences between Lightbody and Business steam.
|Finsbury Food Group – Lightbody||Business Stream|
|Industry||Food Manufacturing||Water retailer (licensed provider)|
|Product/Services||UKs largest supplier of celebration cakes. Sweet snacks, bites.||Water services|
|Number of Sites||9||3|
|Number of Employees||1200||320|
|Employee Engagement %||62%||65%|
|Learning Culture||Limited, difficult to get buy in from senior managers, seen as ‘training’||Open to Learning|
Functional (site level)
|L&D Opportunities||Dependent on business priority, relies on managers, no consistency. Skills Matrix, Appraisal process, limited development plans, blue prints for compliance external/internal delivery, formal qualifications. Apprenticeships.||Formal process for each employee. Employee development plans. Core competencies to learn within a three week induction. Reviews on their ongoing learning and development. Coaching & Mentoring. Skills Matrix with progression pay.|
|Budget Process||Forecasted, but very flexible throughout. Bottom up Approach||Forecasted, inflexible Formal process from top down. Awarded at the start of the financial year, requests out with this must be authorised through two levels.|
|Operational Hours||24/7||9-5 Monday to Friday|
It is suggested that a variance in organisational type, size, sector and structure and other influencing factors can impact on the L&D function through ways of working, policies and practices (Stewart and Rodgers, 2012). It is evident from Figure 1 that Lightbody and Business Stream operate very differently in specific areas, with a significant variance in operational hours, number of employees and turnover.
According to Mintzberg (1989), there is a variance in the structure of organisations as different structures impacts the way an organisation can perform. Successful organisations are believed to be those who have recognised the best way to integrate and coordinate key internal and external factors, the relationship with the organisations strategy and the structure itself. Lightbody, operates within the Divisional Organisation structure. This allows the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) to retain control and accountability for all site processes, practices and decision making (Hill, Jones and Shilling, 2012). This has a direct impact on L&D as due to the industry that the business operates in, there may be a necessity to act upon external factors and change business priority imminently. In an alternative industry, including that of Business Stream, due to the machine structure L&D decisions may take longer to implement as they have a formal process in place involving all levels of the hierarchy. By decentralising the decision making process, it allows those at Group Level to focus on strategic plans, as opposed to local level projects. One implication of this structure within Lightbody is it can cause duplication of resource and activities. Additionally, group initiatives are not always implemented fully throughout the site, as they are not seen as a priority. This can cause inconsistency between sites, making it difficult to achieve the overall strategy.
As a result of the food manufacturing industry,1/3 of Lightbody’s L&D activities are compliance related, which continues to increase due to internal and external factors, for example turnover and change in legislation (see appendix 1 and 2). This results in the business continually retraining, using a high percentage of the budget annually. The blue print outlines the ‘best practice’ compliance requirements for the site, (see appendix 4). With 1200 employees and a 28% turnover, it is extremely difficult for L&D to deliver initiatives out with compliance. In comparison Business Stream have more scope to focus and deliver on personal development and value adding activities, which in turn impacts on the low turnover. Studies show that by offering L&D activities it improves employee productivity, improves employee satisfaction and motivation which in turn improves retention (Wellings, 2013).
Lightbody have a number of opportunities available for individuals, however the process of how this is agreed is not formalised and is very flexible (see appendix 5. There is no consistency between employee opportunities, and due to budget changes L&D activities are not always delivered which impacts on stakeholder relationships. From the stakeholder analysis, (see appendix 3) it is evident that the SLT are key players, therefore, it is important to deliver to their needs. In comparison, Business Stream require every employee to have a formal development plan with core competencies, linked to pay reward, ensuring that it is fair and consistent for all roles within the business. By maximising opportunities for employees to develop skills and progress, it can improve retention, (CIPD ,2016). At Lightbody, due to the operational hours, it is challenging to encourage self-directed learning during hours which are out with the L&D department’s working day as resources are limited.
L&D plays a vital part in contributing to the achievement of the business strategy objectives. To ensure success L&D policies and practices need to be aligned with the business strategy, which is based upon an excellent understanding both of the internal workings of the organisation and the external environment with which it interacts and the main factors affecting it (Towards Maturity, 2015).
A PESTLE analysis was conducted to examine the external environment and identify the Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors that may impact the L&D department within Lightbody. (See Appendix 1).
A Swot Analysis was conducted to understand the internal business environment for Lightbody’s L&D function. (See Appendix 2)
A stakeholder analysis can be described as a process for providing awareness and understanding of, the interactions between a project and its stakeholders (Grimble and Wellard 1997). The analysis was completed to understand the power, influence and interest of all stakeholders, to gain support and win resources (see Appendix 3). It can be seen that Lightbody must aim to ensure that they keep the SLT and the wider HR team satisfied and involved, additionally First Line Managers (FLMs) and customers can play a huge role in the success of L&D. They are relied upon to integrate and promote initiatives.
Lack of Technology/Resource – there is no Learning Management System (LMS) in place which results in large amounts of time being spent running reports, uploading data, predicting budgets, and causing limitations to learning. The impact of technology means that learning is available to employees anytime, anywhere which promotes development and L&D are able to track learner needs and progress against all activities automatically (Towards Maturity, 2016).
Turnover– As the business continues to grow, with the high rate of turnover, headcount is increasing with a greater need for recruitment to replace leavers. This presents L&D with the challenge to develop existing employees to manage the growth. Also, with the high numbers of new employees, L&D are continually reactive to skills shortages and delivering 2-3 inductions per week which is reducing the time available to concentrate on the strategic initiatives.
Budget process – As the current budget process relies on management requesting training, there is inconsistency between employee opportunities. It is believed that this impacts on employee engagement and turnover due to lack of development opportunities in some areas. According to Towers and Watson, (2014), and CIPD (2015), the two methods commonly used to address retention is base salary and development opportunities.
Changes to Customer Codes of Practice (COPs)/Legislation (Compliance) –. As compliance is an essential factor for the business to operate, L&D must ensure that the site is audit ready in terms of training. Compliance training is not generally motivational for employees but remains the biggest priority for the site. As employees have contracted hours, covering all shifts, there is no flexibility for staff training. L&D remain under pressure to ensure that we are compliant. Compliance is always top priority which can cause limits L&D delivering to their full potential.
National Living Wage – The impact of the national living wage rising to £7.20 cost the business £1.5m. It is planned to increase again in April 2017 to £7.50 (Gov.UK, 2017), which will cost the business another £1m. This results in major cost implications for the business leading to budget cuts across all departments and L&D requests not being met.
Technology – New technology becoming available means that the business must implement this within the manufacturing plant to remain competitive. As a result of this L&D must adapt to the new skill requirements and be aware of the training needs throughout this process. This remains a challenge due to the lack of skilled workers, 46% of manufacturing companies’ state that they are struggling to find candidates with high level skills, (Newcombe 2013).
Any organisation that wishes to remain competitive must ensure that learning is at the front of its activity (Brooks, 2013). To ensure success of the Business and People Strategy (See Appendix 6), L&D has a significant role to play in contributing to the achievement of this. Three ways in which the L&D function contributes to the achievement of the organisations objectives are:
Compliance (Legislation and COPs) – L&D can contribute towards removing the risk of exposure for Lightbody by ensuring the site is audit ready and meets all customer and legal requirements. At Lightbody, it is a very manual process that is time consuming. Courses are ran with little attendance due to staff not being able to be released from production. In comparison to good practice, 83% of organisations are using LMS systems to support compliance training, and manage the risk more successfully. Those who use technology to support compliance training have a 90% completion rate, compared to class room courses (Towards Maturity, 2013).
Leadership Development/Talent Management – L&D can assist the business areas in identifying talent, within the organisation and building career/ development plans for individuals. This ensures the business has skilled individuals to allow them to be more effective in their role. This will ensure long term success of the business and development opportunities can contribute to the reduction in turnover (Stredwick, 2013). Training for these individuals is delivered from external providers due to the lack of internal capability. In comparison to best practice, to ensure consistency and reduce costs, the most commonly used L&D practice is on the job training and internal development programs (CIPD, 2014). Coaching and Mentoring programmes are often part of the talent/leadership development programmes, as it can be a key enabler of success as retention is 25% higher for employees with in house mentoring and an incredibly powerful tool for individuals who want to learn(Merrick, 2013).
Upskilling the Work Force – L&D ensure that all individuals within the organisation have the skills to ensure they are competent within their role. This is done through, on the job training or classroom delivery, and is identified through a learning needs analysis. As the business continues to expand its manufacturing capability, it is necessary to ensure the business and employees are prepared for these changes. Lightbody have tools in place to identify skill gaps, however it is believed that to maintain a global position it is important to secure the manufacturing sectors future through skills development, which of course involves all employees. Lightbody must ensure that the tools currently being used are across all departments and shifts to ensure employee development across the business (Whiteman, 2012).
An L&D Strategy aims to develop workforce capabilities, skills and competencies to create a sustainable successful organisation and is an important part of an organisations overall business strategy (CIPD, 2015). Through the understanding of the organisation, including key stakeholders, internal and external factors which affect the L&D function it will help to develop L&D policies and practices that will be effective to achieve the overall strategy.
Figure 2 outlines the steps that Lightbody take in comparison to best practice whilst developing an L&D policy. See appendix 7 for Lightbody L&D policy.
|Steps of Developing Policy||Best Practice||Lightbody of Hamilton|
|Identify Key Purpose||Be clear about the purpose of the policy. Why are L&D developing this practice?||Identifies key purpose as a result of a change in legislation or change to current practice. Key purpose is present on all L&D policies.|
|Identify Roles & Responsibilities||Outlines roles and responsibilities to ensure accountability throughout the process.||Project team set with the task, including relevant stakeholders if required. The coordinator develops a plan including – Who owns this policy once it is approved? Who will evaluate the policy? Who will make changes to the policy?|
|Research||Consider legislation that may impact the policy & best practice, gain views and ideas from stakeholders, consider lessons learned from previous policies.||Benchmark policies against that of other organisations to ensure best practice within the policy.|
|How does the purpose fit with the Culture/Values of the organisation?||Consideration of company values, culture. Does the theme and principle of the policy reflect company value/culture?||Not considered by Lightbody. Little consideration of company values built into.|
|Who is the target audience?||Identify who the policy is aimed at to understand content.||Target audience is identified at initial stage of development.|
|Consultation & Gaining support||Consultation with the key stakeholders should take place as there may be horizontal or vertical integration between functions to ensure policies and practices are aligned.||Little consultation with key stakeholders. Conflicting priorities – pressure from operations, essential to achieve ‘buy in’.|
|Statement of Equality & Diversity||Include equality impact assessment & Statement.||Not included in L&D policies.|
|Communication & Implementation||Communication plan created, delivered and complied with to ensure understanding and implementation of policy.||Communication plan created and delivered, identify who, owner and timescales. Drop in sessions, where required.|
|Horizontal and Vertical Integration||Vertical – L&D policies are aligned with business and HR strategy
Horizontal – L&D policies are consistent and compatible with each other. (CIPD, 2015d
Ensure that there’s a clear line of sight between L&D activity and organisational performance
|L&D Policy is aligned, to people strategy but still improvements to be made to business and L&D policies.|
|Monitor & Review||Reviews must take place to ensure that all strategies remain in alignment with the business objectives and the HR strategy. CIPD, 2015c)||No formal review process, difficult to embed policies.|
Values and Culture
A learning and development policy can be described as a set of guidelines and requirements reflecting the organisations’ values and culture (Armstrong and Taylor, 2014). According to Stewart, (2010) organisational culture should be reflected in any given policy. Therefore, it is important to consider the values of Lightbody to ensure that the policy is in line with the vision and overall strategy, to ensure that the policies and practices contribute to the embedding process.
A stakeholder analysis should be conducted to understand which stakeholders should be involved throughout the process. This is particularly important because L&D is not an activity that it is the responsibility or interest of only the HR team, but concerns everyone in the organisation. An L&D policy can assist decision making, and act as a guidance when taking action and be used to review processes and activities for all identified stakeholders (Burnham, 2015). To be effective, an L&D policy needs to be supported by the key stakeholders, so that it becomes a helpful part of the ‘way things are done here’ and reduces the risk of conflicting priorities.
Equality and Diversity
It is good practice to include a statement regarding equality and diversity within the L&D policy. This helps to ensure a level playing ground to everyone who is affected by the policy and assists with identifying areas of risk. Reputable organisations including, National Autism Society and NHS both include equality and diversity in their L&D policy (National Autism Society, 2017).
In conclusion, it is clear that not one L&D strategy, including policies and procedures fits all and this can vary depending on the context of the business. From the information outlined in this report, it is evident that there a number of opportunities which Lightbody may grasp to improve the effectiveness of the L&D function. The findings from this report will be followed up with recommendations, through a presentation. These will be provided based on Business Stream, best practice and consideration of the business environment.
Armstrong, M. and Taylor, S. (2014) Armstrong’s handbook of human resource management practice. Kogan Page Publishers.
Burnham, R. (2015) Developing L&D policies and practices – developing an L&D policy. Available at:
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Brooks, W. (2013) Learning is Changing. Available at: https://www.hemsleyfraser.co.uk/sites/hemsleyfraser.co.uk/files/Learningischanging.pdf (Accessed: 15 January 2017).
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L&D process –
|First Line Managers – Key player between L&D and operations employees, required to embed and promote initiatives.
Customers – Internal to L&D, significant to success of L&D achieving their objectives within business. External – Essential to maintain positive relationships to ensure business success.
Meet their Needs
|Senior Leadership Team – Drives budget, must get ‘buy in’, L&D initiatives must be aligned to business needs.
HR Team – support required from HR team to achieve budget, able to implement and encourage activities with client area.
Food Safety/EHO/ Auditors – legal requirements, must meet needs and keep them informed.
|Community – Monitor local external environment to promote employer brand, impact on recruitment campaigns.
Other Sites – monitor other sites to ensure best practice, latest trends.
Contractors – no direct impact on L&D
|Potential Supporters – little power to organisation, but should consider them throughout.
Production operators – little power over L&D however should show consideration to their needs and interests to improve retention.
Objective: Overview of training requirements for the site.
What is a blue print?
It is a working document that has been devised to evaluate the sites training requirements in order to meet legal compliance and customer codes of practice (COP). The document comprises:
- Training type
- Legal/Customer Requirement
- Competent Person Requirement
- Length of training
- Method of training
- Frequency of training
- Number of employees requiring training
The Compliance Blue Print is a live document owned by the site SME and controlled by the Learning and Development Department. Technical input has been provided by the Head of Departments, Technical and Health and Safety.
The document will be reviewed on an annual basis, however any significant change in legal and/or customer code of practice (COP) will trigger a review.
Purpose of the Blue print
The document outlines all training required to each specific job role, to ensure each employee has the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to perform their current job to the best of their ability. The blue print may be used as a tool utilised by the line managers to identify skill gaps in their respective teams, in terms of compliance.
Appendix 7 – L&D Policy
Learning and Development
1. The Purpose
This policy sets out Finsbury Foods position and the role that different people play in Learning and Development, to enhance their individual and collective contribution towards the short, medium and long term success of the business.
2. The Principles
The principles of this Policy are to:
- support Finsbury Foods Company by linking all Learning and Development activities to improving organisational performance;
- ensure employees have the necessary knowledge, skills and experience to perform their current jobs to the best of their ability;
- encourage employees to develop their knowledge, skills and experience to equip them to perform related jobs or a wider range of jobs at various levels;
- provide a variety of learning methods which meet different learning styles;
- confirm that investment relating to time and costs in an individual’s Learning and Development is at the discretion of management;
- encourage managers and employees to use their Personal Development Plans to plan and record achievements;
- ensure that all employees are given equality of opportunity to learn;
- Develop a robust evaluation process that shows the impact and return of expectation (ROE) of Learning and Development across the site.
3. The Policy
The company’s long term goal is to create a culture of continuous learning and development.
On a practical basis the company shall ensure that all employees are demonstrably competent and compliant to carry out their job responsibilities and duties through training, work experience and qualification.
3.1 Your Responsibilities as an Employee
You are required to:
- identify with your Line Manager the appropriate method of learning and discuss any barriers to learning and seek help on a way forward
- undertake the agreed learning opportunities in order to maintain your knowledge, competency and improve performance
- ensure all learning activity is captured on the training database (including external Training and on the job learning)
- apply new learning in the workplace
- be actively committed to updating your Personal Development Plan
- find methods of learning to suit your needs in a cost effective way
- Complete validation and evaluation as required / requested.
3.2 Your Responsibilities as a Manager
You are required to:
- ensure you and your team understand this Policy;
- ensure you and your team attend essential training as required for our legal and compliance obligations
- identify with the individual, their learning needs, using the company PRP System – Burtons Biscuit Company PDP (Performance and Development Plan)
- ensure your team have the knowledge and competencies to perform their job to the highest level;
- identify with the individual any barriers to Learning and Development and identify a solution for the way forward;
- discuss with the employee, the purpose of the learning opportunity and the impact on the individual and team both before and after the event;
- ensure employees attend any planned learning events;
- ensure employees have the opportunity to consolidate and implement new learning;
- Ensure employees participate in evaluation as required / requested.
All employees, permanent, temporary or contractors, shall be trained to the standards expected of the company (appropriate internal, external and mandatory standards) and shall be supervised during their working time.
Where employees, permanent, temporary or contractors are engaged in activities related to Critical Control Points, relevant training and documented monitoring procedures shall be in place.
The company shall
- Identify the necessary training competencies for specific roles
- Provide training or other appropriate actions to ensure all have the necessary competencies
- Review and audit the implementation and effectiveness of training and competency of the trainer
- Consider the delivery of training in the appropriate language of the trainees
- Evidence all training and make available for review
The company shall regularly review the competencies of staff and provide relevant training as appropriate. This may be in form of training, refresher training, coaching, and mentoring or on the job experience.
Health & Safety at Finsbury Foods
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSAWA) states that:
It shall be the duty of every employer to ensure, as far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare at work of all his employees. It shall be the duty of every employee while at work to take reasonable care for the health and safety of him /herself and of other persons who may be affected by his acts or omissions at work.
Quality & Food Safety at Finsbury Foods
Finsbury Foods is committed to the continuous improvement of its Hygiene, Quality and Food Safety Management Systems in order to meet stakeholder and customer Business needs while complying with the requirements of the Regulatory Bodies, BRC and appropriate legislation.
We will sustain this commitment by the training and development of all employees and their involvement in the continual improvement process, supported by the Company Quality Policy Statement and a comprehensive management system structure.
Training Policy – Making it happen.
Well managed, training and development can deliver people with the right skills at the right time to enable the organisation to deliver strategic results.
References & Definition:
Implemented Training documentation:-
- Training claw back form
- Training nomination form
- Standard validation form
- Standard study leave policy
- Compliance blueprint documentation(Driving compliance training across each site) owned by site experts(SHE/QFS)
- Learning and development Intranet site –
- L&D materials library(HR private site)
- Learning Zone (employee site)
- Site training calendars
- Standard Intranet training database(driving training records & assisting in training planning)
TNA – Methods that will be used for completing Training need analysis –
- Using compliance blue print to identify compliance training per role per person
- Intranet training database
- Personal Development Plans/Appraisal
- 121’s throughout the working year
- Promotion/ career move etc.
- Business requirements
Training Material: where all the training material or content will be derived/stored.
Training materials will be held in a Central Training Materials library (Intranet based). The standardisation group will vet and approve new /added training materials for format, branding etc. and content where applicable. (Note – SME-(subject matter experts) will be used for content such as Engineering, Technical etc.). Training curriculum/ Calendars will be created based on site needs.
Mode of delivery:
Delivery mode will vary from – external/internal delivery, to online training, classroom or on the job training. This will vary dependent on several questions around costs, suitable to content etc.
Training budgets are held in two areas – Site training budgets are created and managed by each site with the exception of centrally funded programmes. Individual Site training needs should on most occasions be driven by compliance, functional & personal development needs, and some larger training needs should be agreed and signed off at site SMT levels.
Documentation – Tracking, Training, & Certification: reports & documents to be maintained
- An accurate and up to date “compliance training blueprint” document per site
- Each member of staff should have a training folder holding all paper certificated & signed off training documents.
- Site Training database per site, showing status of all “off the job” training
- Training matrices showing accurate reflection of “on the job” training(i.e. SOP’S, WI(work instructions etc.) owned by Operations
Training feedback & evaluation:
- Completion of agreed validation forms measuring Kirkpatrick’s levels 1 & 2, ensuring delivery standards and objectives of training are met.
- Evaluation of training
Training Support System:
The site HR team will be responsible for and the coordination of the above with support from the site.
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