The value of investing in learning and development when the going gets tough

It can be difficult for businesses of any scale to navigate economic struggles, and allocating budgets to new hires is part of that difficulty. Our Talent Insights report from earlier this year showcased that almost a quarter of UK employees who were surveyed (22%) would leave their current role due to lack of career opportunities, and 17% would leave due to a lack of training opportunities provided.

With this in mind, learning and development (L&D) has become more important than ever to employees and their retention within roles. During moments of an economic downturn, L&D is a great way to help businesses improve on productivity and efficiency, attract and retain top talent, and bolster their services for clients and customers.

Here are some tips on how you can improve your L&D programme.

Being committed to employee retention

What we love about learning and development is that it’s a great way to show commitment to your employees; especially during tough economic times, where you may have been forced to implement cost-cutting measures, perhaps even redundancies. Our latest State of Recruitment Report found that SMEs in particular are struggling to keep their workforce, with 89% struggling to match the salaries offered by bigger companies.

By investing in L&D, you can show how you’re dedicated to employee growth, which helps with employee loyalty and engagement. When employees perceive opportunities for learning and advancement within the company, they are more likely to stay — this enables you to keep some of your top talent and avoid turnover costs. Investing in L&D will also help you future-proof your business. Economic downturns are temporary, and eventually, markets recover and stabilise. A workforce with a more adaptable skill set will help you seize new opportunities and thrive when economic conditions improve.

Upskill and reskill your staff

There is the possibility that during an economic downturn, you could find your business with a skills shortage, because of headcount reductions or changes in the market. To adapt to a shifting landscape, L&D programmes can help you and your team upskill in some much-needed areas to help your business stay competitive.

This is important if you aren’t in the right position to hire a member of full-time staff or a freelance contractor. Having a member of your team step up has a lot of benefits for both you and them, as long as it does not overburden them, which could lead to burnout.

L&D programmes help employees develop the competencies to meet changing job requirements, increasing their employability and enabling them to transition to new roles or industries.

Foster a learning culture that can adapt quickly

If you invest in a positive L&D culture, you won’t just be upskilling your team, but also helping them shift mindsets, navigate uncertainty, build self-belief and much more - empowering them to better the business. Learning and development isn’t just about increasing industry-specific skills, there are soft skills to consider too. L&D helps to bridge the gap from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, and working in a team that can help you identify opportunities and feel confident to run with those ideas is going to be invaluable to you.

Things to remember with Learning and Development

It’s important as a business leader and senior HR professional to invest in your team through promoting continual development. By introducing upskilling, your team can have access to the tools they need to grow and develop on their own initiative. This sort of fulfilment to be a part of a growth mindset creates a positive impact in the moment, and for the future.