Five reasons to invest in staff learning this year

Budget restraints are holding back learning and development programmes: but should businesses be asking if they can afford not to train their staff?


Budget restraints are holding back learning and development programmes: but should businesses be asking if they can afford not to train their staff?

When we surveyed key learning and development decision-makers and influencers at the beginning of 2014, we found that budget constraint was the biggest barrier to the delivery of learning and development. Sadly, our most recent survey earlier this year bore a similar result.

This would suggest that organisations are not seeing the value of L&D, but rather viewing it as nothing more than a cost or a ‘nice to have.’ In reality, however, L&D can have a huge and lasting impact on organisational performance, and there are some very compelling reasons to invest in it this year and beyond.

1. Talent attraction

We are often hearing about the ‘war on talent’ at the moment. Many organisations are struggling with a lack of available skills, and it really is beginning to look like a candidate’s market. It is therefore more important than ever to focus on attracting the best talent in your industry, and showing that you are willing to invest in the development of new hires is a great way to appeal to potential candidates.

2. Staff retention

Once you have attracted those talented people, of course, you want to hold on to them. People are much more likely to want to stay with a business long-term if they can see a clear development plan ahead of them. Provide people with learning that will help them grow and reach new milestones in their career, and they will likely reward you with higher levels of motivation and loyalty.

3. Employee engagement

Many studies conducted in the last year have pointed towards a causal link between high levels of employee engagement and a healthy bottom line. By providing people with learning experiences linked to their role and their ability to help the company succeed, they are more likely to be engaged, but L&D also provides an opportunity to train leaders and line managers to help them better engage their staff at team level.

4. Increased productivity

Targeted learning can have a huge impact on productivity, provided the learning is targeted in a way that reflects the wider strategic needs of the business, i.e. giving people the skills, knowledge and behaviours required to help the company meet and exceed its objectives. This requires greater up-front investment, but the long-term impact on productivity and performance is always going to be worth it.

5. Better innovation

L&D is not simply about teaching people new skills or imparting knowledge. Often it is about bringing people together and getting them to bounce ideas off each other and experience different points of view. This can really boost creativity and innovation, and can often result in the discovery and implementation of a solution which may not otherwise have been thought of.

A business is only as effective as the employees working within it, and the development of those employees cannot be ignored. While it may be tempting to slash L&D budgets when the chips are down, I would advise any business leader to think twice before doing so. After all: it is during those tougher times that you need your people performing better than ever.

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda Nair

Praseeda was Editor for GrowthBusiness.co.uk from 2016 to 2018.

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