An empowered learning and development team improves employee retention. In fact, 93% of employees say they will stay longer at a company when that company invests in their career development.
Employee retention is absolutely a key HR objective, but there are many other benefits that learning & development provides that directly impacts a company’s bottom line. Training employees helps make employees more productive. Companies that spend at least $1,500 per employee annually report earning 24% more profit than those with smaller learning and development (L&D) budgets.
So, we get it. Learning and development is amazing. It helps companies gain and retain top talent, it improves productivity, and learning & development helps companies earn more profit. Before we go on then, it seems we need to understand what is learning and development and who are the key players.
What Is Learning and Development?
Learning and development commonly referred to as training and development, is organizationally part of HR. The goal of Learning and development is to align employee goals and performance with that of the organization’s. Those responsible for learning & development within an organization must identify skill gaps among employees and teams then develop and deliver training to bridge those gaps.
Typically Learning and Development teams are led by the Learning & Development Manager. The Learning & Development Manager is responsible for developing and implementing an organization’s learning strategy. In the modern workplace, these duties can include a wide arrange of responsibilities that are both theoretically as well as technologically driven and managerial in nature:
- Develop and implement learning strategies and programs that meet business needs
- Evaluate organizational as well as individual employee development needs
- Ensure alignment of learning & development department with business goals
- Optimize training processes to improve ROI
- Manage and procure L&D technologies to facilitate learning and management of learning initiatives
- Design elearning courses, interactive group training, and other training content
- Implementing effective training methods
- Manage personnel within the learning & development department
- Maintaining the learning & development budget within an organization
- Championing and marketing training programs to get managerial buy-in as well as employee commitment
The learning & development manager is central to ensuring that employees are able to successfully meet the challenges of their jobs and that they are properly aligned with the business goals of the company.
Why Is Learning and Development So Important?
Now that we have a little bit more information on what learning and development is, let’s pivot to discuss the reasons why L&D is important for organizations today and tomorrow.
1. Today’s Employees Demand Opportunities To Learn
According to a 2016 Gallup report, 87% of millennials say learning and development in the workplace is important while 59% of millennials say having opportunities to learn and grow are extremely important when deciding whether to apply for a job. Why is that important? Well, by 2025 millennials will make up 50% of the US workforce. By 2030, 75% of the US workforce will be comprised of millennials. In order for companies to compete for top talent, they will need to be able to offer a commitment to an employee’s development.
2. Hiring Is More Expensive Than Employee Retention
It is difficult to understand the actual costs of employee turnover, but we inherently understand that losing productive employees is not a good thing. In their 2018 Employee Retention Report, Work Institute reported that 1 in 4 employees will leave their job and nearly 77% of that turnover could be prevented by employers. Regardless of the exact dollar value, retaining employees is more cost-effective than the costs associated with the costs of separation, recruitment, and the hit to productivity. Mentioned earlier, 93% of employees say they will stay longer at a company that invests in their development. That’s incredible. This also means that companies are helping to retain their employees by investing in learning and development. L&D not only boosts employee productivity, but it is incredibly important to boost employee confidence in themselves and trust in their employer.
3. Training Employees Improves Your Bottom Line
Employees are a company’s greatest asset. Right? Sure, they are! With the right team in place, the sky’s the limit. With learning & development focusing on filling in knowledge gaps and upskilling employees by focusing on the strengths of their employees, companies have reported anywhere between a 14%-29% increase in profit. An IBM study found that well-trained teams increased their productivity by 10%. Equipping employees with the ability to do their jobs better is just a smart move. As managers, our jobs are to get the best out of every employee. Coaching and training employees is a great way to empower them to succeed.
4. Untrained Employees May Put You At Risk
So far we have mostly spoken about how learning and development reduces employee churn, attracts new hires, and improves your bottom line by making companies smarter and more productive. Also in the purview of learning and development is risk mitigation through compliance training initiatives and workplace safety training. Companies have a responsibility to ensure their employees work in a safe and welcoming environment. Though proper workplace behavior may feel like something people inherently know, companies can be proactive in training employees to maintain a safe and inclusive workplace. Implementing an effective ethics training program can help employees work better and minimize the risk of lawsuits for failing to comply with industry standards in safety and workplace behavior.
5. Improved Customer Service and Satisfaction
Why does a customer get in contact with a company? Oftentimes all of the information they need is available on community boards or amazing knowledge bases that support teams create. Customers look at company employees as experts in their fields with the ability to deliver information through dialogue. When a customer takes the time out of their day to wait on-hold or schedules a session to speak with someone, then it is critical that employees are knowledgeable enough around their company’s products to have a fruitful conversation. It’s ok to say, “I don’t have the answer, but I’ll get back to you.” However, it’s far better to be able to communicate an in-depth understanding with answers customers appreciate. Empowering every employee to handle customer conversations effectively, has a remarkable impact on customer satisfaction. In fact, there is a 16% increase in customer satisfaction with companies that are utilizing learning technology.
Learning & Development Is Important - Now What?
As G.I. Joe used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.” Once you understand what is learning and development and the importance of it within an organization, you can start to take even small steps to boost its role in your organization. Even if you are running a small company, training has its place. Start to map out skills gaps and think about what you can do to help your employees get to where they need to be to do their job amazingly. Create a basic training program. Start with writing out learning objectives that build to clear learning goals. Think about who you are training. Are these teenagers doing shift work or adults in their career? Remember, your employees are already working for you. They are an incredible asset for your company that helps you deliver real value to your customers. They want to stay and do an even better job, so invest in helping them, help you.
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