Learning and development

What is Learning and Development?

Learning and Development (L&D) is an effort made by businesses to help employees learn new skills and develop their knowledge and behaviours. This can include a number of activities and initiatives, from formal training courses and book-buying budgets, to on-the-job learning and job shadowing.

The benefits of Learning and Development

It’s true that employees will benefit from upskilling themselves – particularly in soft skills, like leadership and communication. For instance, research has shown that L&D improves job satisfaction and productivity. In fact, UK businesses are currently losing £22 billion every year due to a lack of prioritisation of soft skills, so it’s something to consider investing in.

Plus, employees are more likely to feel valued and cared for if their employer is willing to fund their learning. That’s why it’s an attractive benefit to include on a job description – it’s now seen as a competitive differentiator for workplaces.

But implementing L&D initiatives can only be a good thing for employers, too. Happy, successful workers are more likely to stay at a business, so senior leaders are sure to see improved retention. This can also result in increased profits and productivity and cost savings, as well as improved customer service and customer satisfaction. It’s a win-win.

How can employers implement Learning and Development?

The way organisations implement L&D depends on lots of factors, from budget and resources to size of the workforce. 

Here are some Learning and Development strategies that might work for your company:

  • On-the-job and self-taught learning might include job shadowing, mentoring and coaching. For example, you could ask a few senior leaders if they’d be interested in mentoring more junior colleagues.

  • Formal training courses organised by local training providers or your own organisation. A quick Google search should help you narrow down providers in your area.

  • Online or distance learning courses can offer employees the opportunity to learn in their own time. Given that one in two employees is pursuing opportunities to upskill outside of work, this could be a simple yet effective strategy.

  • Employee benefit packages (like company-paid educational leave) can help to support employees in their Learning and Development. If workers know they don’t have to pay for the courses out of their own pockets, they might be more enthusiastic about enrolling. Many Ben customers use flexible allowances to effectively manage their L&D through the Ben platform.

  • Group learning sessions could be initiated at work. Each team has different skills, and sharing these with one another is a great way to upskill without the need for external resources.

The importance of Learning and Development in the UK

If you’re wondering why Learning and Development is important, there are endless reasons. 

L&D has become increasingly important for the UK workplace in recent years. A survey of 1,000 HR professionals found that for 92% of respondents, L&D is either very important or important for their organisation. This is higher than in many other countries, which reflects the fact that the UK is leading the charge when it comes to implementing initiatives to upskill employees.

EY even found that not only is Learning and Development key for retention, but it’s also essential for business strategy and building on company culture. Plus, with automation set to replace many job roles, it’s never been so important for companies to pivot and encourage employees to learn new skills to adapt to a changing workplace.

What challenges can employers face when implementing Learning and Development?

Bringing in any new scheme into a workplace comes with its challenges. Will people respond as you want them to? Can you afford to maintain it? 

Here are some of the challenges that employers should consider when implementing Learning and Development:

  1. Making sure you have the training budget and resources to deliver the training. If not, are there other areas you can cut costs in to make room for a higher L&D budget?
  2. Delivering training that is engaging, relevant and effective. Employees are more likely to respond positively to a programme if they see how it affects them and how it can help them.
  3. Finding the right training provider and delivery method to suit the needs and budget of your organisation. You might want to pick a training provider who specialises in your industry, or you could ask employees what they most want to learn about.
  4. Measuring the outcomes of the training and ensuring employees are learning. If the results aren’t what you’d hoped for within 3, 6 or 12 months, it’s worth adapting your offering to see if that makes a difference.

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