Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, especially in a digital age characterized by automation. The second phase of IT-enabled business transformation, commonly called digital transformation, is altering the business value chain, creating new processes and industries altogether. According to McKinsey research, 14% of the workforce, or as many as 375 million workers, will be impacted due to shifts in companies skills requirements driven by digitization, automation, and artificial intelligence. This quickly evolving business environment makes it imperative for organizations to train their employees on a continuing basis to ensure they maintain competitiveness in the marketplace.
Learning and development (L&D) is also called training and development and is part of the human resource function. The goal of the L&D team is to align employee learning goals and performance with that of the organization. L&D teams need to match employee training requirements with an organizational skill matrix to balance individual aspirations and company requirements.
The major changes to the economic landscape brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and shift to a remote work environment have further reinforced the importance of a dedicated L&D team in the organization. The skill’s requirement is not limited to client-focused work but also skilling employees to update their knowledge and skills on internal processes and tools, with the remote work-from-home (WFH) setting becoming a permanent feature. Additionally, the relevance of the L&D team has assumed even greater importance, considering employees also need to be guided to maintain emotional and mental well-being in new work settings.
The L&D team helps to make employees more productive. The organizations that spend up to $1,500 per employee annually on training and learning have reported 24% more profits, compared to organizations with lower spend on training. Besides, the L&D team enables organizations to retain top performers and create an engaged workforce. Ninety-three percent of employees have indicated their interest to stay longer at a company if it invests in their career development.
The L&D team is led by a manager who works with the Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) to develop and implement an organization learning strategy. Besides creating organization skill development and performance assessment plans, L&D managers also have to design and develop content; procure and manage L&D technologies and manage the overall learning process.
Some value addition and benefits of having a dedicated L&D team are:
- Organization evolution: Rebuilding and reshaping in an era of disruptions
Organizations need to evolve continually to keep pace with changes in their industry and external market environment. In an age of fast-paced business evolution driven by technology innovations, training is essential for employees. You can stay ahead of the competition when your employees are armed with the latest knowledge about your industry
With a robust training and development program, both your employees and organization will be equipped to adapt to change quickly to maintain competitiveness in the market. Along with development of new skills, periodic employee training programs serve as refresher courses for your employees that enable them to sharpen existing skills and maintain the organization’s high level of skill and knowledge.
- Reskilling and upskilling
Digital technologies are disrupting existing business models, creating new ones requiring new business processes and skills. In today’s ever-changing business landscape, one-off employee training is not enough. Organizations need to upskill the workforce consistently. A Gartner research has found that total skills required for a single job are increasing 10% year over year. This enables employees to quickly adopt new developments, which can speed up innovations in processes and products to remain relevant to their customers.
A fast-paced market evolution driven by technology is making existing roles and skills redundant, making reskilling a priority. According to a World Economic Forum (WEF) report, more than 40% of workers globally will require skilling by 2025. The benefits of reskilling help companies reduce employee turnover, avoid layoffs and employee dissatisfaction. It will also help to instill in employees a greater sense of job security, leading to higher productivity and engagement.
In fact, upskilling and reskilling of employees has emerged as the top focus area for L&D professionals.
- Employee development
Employees equate learning and development programs as an opportunity to acquire new skills to aid in their career progression. The training makes employees feel motivated and enhances their job satisfaction and morale.
Learning and development also enables organizations to fill new as well as internal promotion positions which is a cost-effective solution compared to hiring new talent externally. As the existing employees are acquainted with the work culture, their on-boarding is faster and they can start work immediately.
- Employee retention
Continuous learning and development is important to retain skilled employees which translates into saving thousands of dollars. In the fierce war for talent, retaining skilled employees has become a challenge that organizations are addressing by offering employees a well-defined career development path aided by a structured L&D program. This helps to foster loyalty among employees, resulting in increased staff retention and lower employee turnover rates. Though there is no standard benchmark for quantifying employee turnover costs, it is understood that losing a productive employee is a loss to the organization.
- Attracting new talent
A well-structured training and development program enhances an organization’s ability to attract qualified new talent. An organization that emphasizes employee learning and development as a priority sets a benchmark that enables them to attract top talent. In fact, organizations are leveraging their training and development programs as an incentive to hire new employees, specifically in lateral positions.
- Improve workplace engagement
According to a Gallup’s employee engagement survey, engaged employees produce better business outcomes than other employees. Engaged employees tend to reduce absenteeism by 41% and have a higher productivity, up to 17% higher. An engaged employee helps to improve customer relationships and contribute to organic growth.
Learning and development is a key driver of employee engagement. According to a study by Udemy, 80% of employees feel learning new skills make them more engaged and productive. L&D also helps to check boredom, which is one of the contributing factors for high employee turnovers.
According to Glint research, employees who see greater learning and growth opportunities in an organization are 3.6 times more likely to report being happy, which is a strong signal of employee engagement. COVID-19 pandemic has brought a remarkable change in workplace learning,with employees spending 130% more time learning during the pandemic compared to the previous period. A heightened interest in learning necessitates a dedicated L&D team within the organization.
Moreover, a dedicated L&D team influences company culture by creating an environment of continuous learning and growth.
- Enhance Workplace Relationships
L&D programs bring employees together on a common platform, leading to greater collaboration and employee bonding in both online and offline channels. With employees coming together from across the organization for the training, they get opportunities to explore new topics and expand their knowledge. This helps them build interpersonal relationships that transcend the boundaries of departments and geographies. Peer collaboration helps to drive workplace performance by increasing engagement levels and lowering fatigue, leading to higher success rates.
The social tools included as part of the learning management system (LMS) have taken engagement to an altogether different level with peer learning and knowledge sharing becoming mainstream. However, all these require dedicated L&D personnel to moderate and facilitate the interactions.
Employees will drive differentiation in the market
Employees are the true key intangible assets for organization especially in the age of automations where differentiations between organizations are diminishing. The most valuable assets for organization in the 20th century were its machinery and equipment, but in the 21st century, the most valuable assets are people. An organization investment in training and development of its employees will create significant value for the organization and provide competitive advantage.
You can get in touch to start a conversation about developing a dedicated L&D team for your organization.