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Why companies should re-invest in learning and development

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How, then, can organisations ensure their staff are supported and engaged in a post-lockdown world? Reintroducing support which enhances skills through learning and development (L&D) plans is one way to show commitment to valued team members. However, with the challenge of budget reductions, it is vital programmes truly deliver a positive business impact.

Supporting staff retention

One of the main concerns of businesses before the pandemic circled around staff retention. What can organisations do to ensure staff are supported, engaged and remain interested in their jobs? While the pandemic halted these concerns, it is starting to become more of a focus again, particularly as companies re-start recruitment processes.

Recent research suggests that employees are starting to seek more recognition from their employers. Research undertaken by employee benefits specialist Edenred, for example, found that many employees felt their work was not rewarded. As such, business leaders are left requiring new ways to engage and inspire staff. It can be argued that L&D will have an important role to play here.

Last year, Warwick Conferences surveyed 200 directors in HR, L&D and Finance, to understand the attitudes surrounding L&D. While the respondents understood the value L&D brought (75% expected their organisation’s L&D budget to increase or stay the same, for example) it was clear that some L&D programmes were stale, and often repeated.

Time to change L&D?

One of the big learnings from the Covid-19 pandemic is that business life is unlikely to be the same. Who could have imagined that working from home would have been integrated into businesses across the UK so successfully? The learnings from the pandemic show that changes could be here permanently, and the same should be acknowledged in L&D programmes.

What changes might be required for L&D, then? For one, programmes must be accommodating to the needs of the delegate. Among the findings from Warwick Conferences’ survey, which was undertaken before the pandemic, one in five admitted that they run the same programme annually, regardless of feedback or business impact. It is clear that this is no longer an attitude which will be able to continue in the future, particularly as budgets are possibly tightened.

During the pandemic, many L&D programmes have moved to an online setting. However, with the rise of so-called ‘Zoom fatigue’, online training may no longer be beneficial in a post-lockdown world. There are some benefits to online training; it allows people across the world to attend the same programme without the need to travel, for example. But online learning is not effective for everyone, and many have craved a return to face-to-face learning. Indeed, most L&D directors (78%) who participated in Warwick Conferences’ 2020 survey said they preferred to host L&D programmes externally. However, it is clear that, while changes are going to be required, delivering a return on investment is going to become even more important than ever.

Time to focus on delivering a return

Among the findings from the 2020 survey, less than one third sent participants a survey for feedback within a week of the training programme, while 44% of L&D directors expressed concern that calculating the ROI could reveal programmes are unsuccessful.

When planning future programmes, it is clear that these practices must change. No longer will L&D programmes fall under the radar. It is likely that more business leaders will begin to look for understanding as to how programmes which have been budgeting are impacting the business.

According to research by the ROI Institute and ATD, the data CEOs receive are not demonstrating what they want out of their talent investment. While 75% believe ROI should be measured, only 4% claim that it is a current measure, indicating the growing pressures programme managers can be expected to receive.

As a result of the survey findings, Warwick Conferences has worked with the globally-renowned ROI Institute to develop a world-first tool to understand the success of an L&D programme. The L&D Barometer is a simple-to-use tool which has been created to support L&D managers and organisers understand ways in which ROI can be improved – or whether a programme is perfect as it is.

The L&D Barometer will be launched in June 2021. To be alerted about the launch of the much-anticipated tool, get in touch with a member of the team .

Gail Tomlinson-ShortGail Tomlinson-Short

Gail has over 20 years of experience within the events services industry at Warwick Conferences, developing strong business relationships through a consultative sales approach. Primarily specialising in the automotive, construction, logistics and manufacturing sectors.

Gail dot Tomlinson-Short at warwick dot ac dot uk

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