Over the last few years, we’ve watched tech giants lay off hundreds, if not thousands of employees.
On a smaller scale, tech scale-ups have made similar gut-wrenching decisions—and the people they have left are being asked to do more with less.
We’ve all had to become more agile, more innovative, more skilled than ever before.
Even businesses thriving in this economic downturn need to constantly adjust to changes in workplace trends, technology, and more. If they don’t, they can slip from thriving to barely surviving all too quickly.
In an environment where hiring has slowed and funding is scarce, your people’s ability to gain the knowledge they need to keep pace, action changing strategies and meet OKRs on time, has become the difference between success and failure.
People teams know this, Leadership teams know this. But what are they doing about it today?
It’s time we, as business leaders and People leaders, rethink how we use learning and development (L&D).
Only then will we be the agile organizations we dream of being.
The problem with using learning to check a box
There are many reasons why companies put L&D in the benefit suite. For some, it’s because they don’t have the time or formal infrastructure to support workplace learning.
In this case, it’s often easier to simply buy a subscription to an e-learning vendor and hope that employees use or engage with it.
For other’s it’s because employee surveys routinely show lack of career growth opportunities as one of the main reasons employees leave their company.
In fact, 35% of people are leaving their current roles due to a lack of career development and advancement potential.
Don’t get me wrong—increased engagement and talent retention are fantastic outcomes of learning.
But using L&D as a benefit for these reasons alone ignores what effective L&D can accomplish for your business.
When you have the right tools in place to support learning and align it intentionally with business priorities, it can:
➡️ Help you future-proof your organization.
➡️ Allow your employees to learn new skills while maximizing high-performance in their roles.
➡️ Empower your people to actively contribute to team and company objectives.
From a nice-to-have to a need-to-have
Yes, the impact of the pandemic and recent economic downturn has made the business landscape incredibly difficult—but these disruptions shouldn’t be viewed in isolation.
Rapid advances in technology have been forcing us to adapt and change the way we work for several years.
In the U.S., the share of jobs that require extensive and mid-level digital skills has increased from 45 to 71% since 2002.
There’s no sign of this slowing down either. Research by Gartner reveals that 58% of the workforce will need new skills to do their jobs successfully.
Not to mention that the World Economic Forum predicts that automation and further advances in technology will create 12 million new jobs by 2025.
Your people may have the knowledge they need to do their jobs well and contribute to business success at the moment.
But what about the parts of their job, project or future role that will evolve or that don’t exist yet?
To navigate these changes, there’s a very good chance that your people will need to learn new skills in the years to come.
Enable your people to stay ahead of the curve
To successfully adjust and keep up with industry changes, you’ll need to invest in your people and give them the resources they need to upskill.
If you choose not to prepare your employees for changes in their roles and the business environment, a few things are likely to happen:
➡️ Your business risks falling behind its competitors.
➡️ OKRs and targets will be missed each quarter.
➡️ Your people are likely to feel unmotivated—leading to poor performance, lower morale and retention issues.
But when your employees can upskill in the areas that are preventing them from making progress in their projects or roles, they will be able to adapt to change in priorities with little to no ramp time.
Learning, when done intentionally, will also allow your employees to discover new ways to innovate and drive your business forward.
If you don’t believe me, the research on this is clear. Companies that strategically invest in learning are 56% more likely to be first to market with new products and processes.
This allows an organization to grow as its people grow—despite the evolving business landscape—beat competitors to market, reach its targets faster and boost its bottom line.
How to use intentional learning to maximize your ROI
L&D is more closely tied to business outcomes than many leaders and People teams think.
To get the most out of learning, you need to embrace it holistically across your organization and make it an integral part of your employer value proposition (EVP).
At Learnerbly, we call this intentional learning, or intentional upskilling. It means that the skills an employee develops is strategically in line with the needs of their team and the wider business.
A few simple, but effective ways to do this are to:
✅ Ensure that time is made for employees to embed learning into their day-to-day experiences.
✅ Have managers stay up to date with the topics and areas their direct reports want to learn next.
✅ Ask teams to give feedback on the effectiveness of their learning resources or platform.
It’s also important to ensure that your managers make time to have regular developmental conversations with their direct reports.
These are important conversations to have because they allow managers to align business goals with their direct reports’ personal ones.
Equally, this is a great opportunity to encourage your people to take active steps towards developing their skills to ensure they’re prepared for future responsibilities or industry requirements.
Not only will they learn new skills while maximizing performance in their current roles, but this will also enable direct reports to overcome future challenges and contribute to business success faster.
Another great outcome of having developmental one-to-ones is that they allow managers to gauge where their team members are in their learning journeys.
This could mean supporting direct reports by helping them find upskilling opportunities that are aligned with their professional development plan and your business’s key objectives.
It’s also important that you create time for your managers and direct reports to reflect on the learning that they are engaging with.
If your company provides team or individual budgets for learning, it’s a good idea to regularly check whether these adequately support their development.
The learning budget you give your people defines whether they are able to make the best of it and in turn, impacts the effectiveness of your upskilling initiative.
But having a budget to spend isn’t enough. Your people need access to the right resources—the ones that are industry leading and reflective of new trends in their areas of expertise.
The bottom line
While it’s impossible to know exactly what the future of work will look like, business success will be defined by being able to adapt to change and push ahead of industry trends.
To get this right, you need to give your people access to the right tools, resources and learning budgets to upskill themselves effectively.
Not only will this help your organization build a high-performance culture and reach its targets in the short term, but it will also be a critical investment in futureproofing your business.
L&D can be so much more than just a perk when it’s intentionally aligned with your business outcomes.
The results are more productive, adaptable, and effective teams that are able to drive your business forward—despite any change or challenges that come their way.
And that’s what we’re all looking for out of our teams at the end of the day, right?
Want to develop in demand skills in-house?
Book some time with one of our learning and development experts to find out how Learnerbly can help you upskill your people, retain your top talent, and eap the rewards of a more productive, innovative, and high-performing team.