CHICAGO — This column is part of our “People Strategies for Growth” series, where we feature inspiring insights from successful business leaders. These strategies can provide a roadmap for other top decision-makers to grow their business with purpose. Read the other articles in the series here.

Robyn Clark is the founder and president of WinningWise, a consulting firm that specializes in executive leadership and team development. In this column, she answers the question, “Workforce shortages are reaching new levels of criticality post-pandemic. How can baking companies use training/education as a tangible benefit to employment? Are there specific strategies to make these programs more appealing and user-friendly for new hires … and how do those differ from continuing education for longer-term employees?

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Today, most companies are finding that “people” are in short supply, as they exercise their options in evaluating and selecting their workplace. People work for many different reasons, but what is universal is that they work to meet their individual needs. So, what are these needs? And how do they set the stage for our Learning and Training Initiatives?

When we think about Individual Needs, there are eight that are universal across industries and people. These entail: (1) Meaningful Work — doing work that matters; (2) Mastery — feeling valued and sought after for our expertise; (3) Connection — being connected and included in the workplace; (4) Autonomy — feeling a sense of empowerment and independence; (5 | 6) Personal Growth and Career Achievement — feeling hope for a bright future because we’re learning, growing and progressing; (7) Rewards and Recognition — feeling acknowledged for our contributions; and (8) Lifestyle — designing a life of balance.

Many of the Individual Needs people have in their work are linked to ongoing learning, training and education. To grow one’s craft (aka Mastery), employees must have an environment that’s learning-oriented. For people to do work that matters, they must keep growing. And for people to experience the Personal Growth, Career Achievement, and Rewards and Recognition they desire, they expect to be supported by their organizations. They will look for organizations that take a real interest in who they are and how they can best build a future of value within your company.

As you look for a competitive edge in today’s tough talent market, consider learning and training. That investment is a win-win for both the organization and the employee.


As a company, it’s impossible to meet everyone’s Individual Needs ALL the time—that’s unrealistic. But to attract and keep employees, managers must create an experience for people that’s filled with opportunities to learn, grow and progress. That’s what many individuals are looking for, especially post-pandemic. For many, the pandemic was a holding year — one in which they contributed more independently. At the end of the year, many are reassessing: Where can I go? What role should I be in? How can I best grow and progress?

Exposure and options for learning programs are right up this alley. When companies spend on learning programs, it’s an investment … and it helps your people know that you care about their growth and future. To ensure that your learning programs hit the mark, for both the individual and the organization, consider the following criteria:

  • Accessible, Relevant and Practical — Make certain that remote and in-office people can share in those experiences and that the program “fits” with their work, goals and aspirations.
  • Applicable — Make sure people see, feel and experience the connection between the learning and their work. Managers can support this by talking to people about their learning needs and how to apply their learning to their work.
  • Progressive — Help people to see their career growth and success in your organization is a journey, and that you’re there to support them in accessing good learning programs as well as positive learning work experiences that all fit together.
  • Engaging and Interactive — Whatever learning methods you use, almost EVERYONE wants to be involved in their own learning. It isn’t enough to talk at people or to share content; it’s most critical that people be able to process the content relative to their work, challenges and future.


As you look for a competitive edge in today’s tough talent market, consider learning and training. That investment is a win-win for both the organization and the employee. If you do it well, it generates better all-around performance, engagement and leadership for your organization. And for individuals, it provides confidence in a bright future.

For more information on learning, talent and leadership development strategy and/or programs – please feel free to reach out WinningWise through or directly to Robyn Clark at

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