Learning and development (L&D) is often the first thing to be trimmed from a company's budget. It is frequently seen as an unnecessary expense with hard to quantify benefits (at least in terms of pure ROI), and it therefore seems the logical choice when paring back outgoings.However, L&D actually boosts productivity and, therefore, a company’s growth and income. Here are just five ways in which L&D makes business better.
1. Employee engagement
Every employee, regardless of their position, wants to feel as though they are valued for the skills, knowledge and experience they bring to a role, so it can make all the difference when their employer offers them opportunities for training and development. It will demonstrate that the company cares about them and wants them to improve their skills, and therefore ensure that the employee is more invested in the long-term aims of the company and the part they will play in achieving those aims.
2. Staff retention Engaged employees are also more likely to stay at the company. A recent paper by Thales Learning & Development said, “Investing time and money into developing your people makes them feel valued. It also gives them something to aspire to and provides them with a future in the business.” The paper goes on to quote Oxford Economics research that shows the average time it takes for a new employee to reach optimum productivity is 28 weeks, so retaining staff effectively saves up to half a year's lost productivity.
3. Time savings
The more skilled and knowledgeable an employee is, the less likely he or she will be to make mistakes which take time to rectify. Work holdups, therefore, will be rare (if non-existent) and employees can move seamlessly from job to job. They will also become used to achieving at a high level on a regular basis, which will aid morale and company engagement. In addition, an employee who is skilled and engaged with the company will be less likely to leave it, thus saving management time when it comes to hiring and training new employees.
4. Reducing sick leave
Employee absence costs UK organisations £29 billion per annum. L&D directly leads to higher employee engagement, and higher engagement directly correlates with better employee wellbeing, meaning fewer sick days taken. As Jim Harter, Ph.D, of business journal Gallup puts it: “If people are engaged at work and thriving in their overall wellbeing, they're more agile and resilient and are less likely to be sick, but they're also more likely to want to be in the office.”
5. Increased focus
In research conducted for the Harvard Business Review, four core employee needs were identified: Renewal (physical), Value (emotional), Focus (mental), and Purpose (spiritual). The researchers found that when employees felt even one of these needs were met, “they report a 30 percent higher capacity to focus, almost 50 percent higher level of engagement, and a 63 percent greater likelihood to stay with the company.” At a time when studies often reveal how little time at work is actually productive, the importance of meeting these core needs cannot be underestimated. L&D helps to meet two of them directly: Value, which is felt when the company invests in you as an individual, and Purpose, which is felt by through a sense of progression within both your role and the company. The bottom line value of L&D may be difficult to measure, but if a business is to grow, it is clear that it needs its staff to grow first.