This week sees the arrival of Learning at Work Week and it couldn’t have better timing. In the midst of the ‘Great Resignation’ and the ever-growing skills gap, it shines a well-needed spotlight on employee learning and development in the workplace (L&D). It also provides a great opportunity to explore tools for further learning in the workplace and discover how to intellectually invest in employees.
We spoke to six business leaders to gain their insights and advice on how organisations can successfully implement learning and development strategies to develop their workforces.
Tackling employee retention and hybrid working
Prioritising employee L&D and providing opportunities for growth is essential for employee retention. Russell Gammon, Chief Solutions Officer at Tax Systems notes that “76% of employees agree that they are more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training, proving that investing time into learning and development is essential for employee retention”.
He adds: “Amidst the ongoing ‘Great Resignation’ and ever-growing skills shortage, this is especially important within the financial sector. All too often, skilled employees are enticed into other industries with exciting new opportunities to use upcoming technologies, like AI, or be involved in an innovative start-up”.
Employee retention isn’t the only challenge faced today, however, as Sadie Wilde, Leadership and Talent Development Partner at Node4, explores how hybrid working has impacted the work environment in terms of learning. “In an office environment employees can learn a huge amount from simply shadowing, observing, and listening to conversations between colleagues. As many switch to a hybrid working model with only one or two days in the office per week, these opportunities are significantly reduced”.
In order to combat these problems, Wilde advises that “making the most of being together when in the office is also essential for learning and development. Encouraging teams to meet together – be it a formal brainstorm or an informal coffee morning – cultivates an environment that enables everyone to bring a different idea to the table”.
Virtual learning opportunities
Whenever necessary, development in the work environment can still happen virtually, as Jen Locklear, Chief People Officer at ConnectWise, highlights:
“New technologies allow for more innovative learning opportunities meaning that remote training and development doesn’t have to be a solitary experience. It can be a great way for employees to collaborate and connect virtually”.
The benefits are two-fold when companies invest in their employee L&D. Tony Prevost, HR Director, EMEA at Skillsoft, outlines how “an increased focus on learning and development supports skills development, but it can also help retain staff who value their professional development. In fact, retention rates rise 30-50% for organisations with strong learning cultures”.
He expands on this, emphasising that “it also helps fill skills gaps by allowing existing staff to expand their skillsets, meaning businesses do not have to rely solely on competing in a capricious hiring market. Skillsoft has seen this increased focus on learning at work in action, with a 55% year-over-year increase in the number of learners on the Skillsoft Percipio platform and a 45% increase in total hours of Percipio learning consumption in 2021”.
A different approach to learning
Attitudes and approaches to learning in the workplace, like many other things, have modernised. “While traditionally many jobs may have expected you to learn the skills and knowledge required during your education, today there are more pathways open to those willing to learn and work hard at the same time”, encourages Gillian Mahon, Chief People and Places Officer at Totalmobile.
“Apprenticeships are an excellent way to encourage more people of all ages and backgrounds into different industries, including the software industry. These programmes give the apprentice an understanding of what working in this industry would be like, and provide training in the skills required to be successful. [They] provide that stepping stone where the person learns the job while being paid to train, and the company has the chance to train a potential future employee. It’s a win-win situation”.
This forward thinking attitude is key as Terry Storrar, MD at Leaseweb UK, concludes:
“Successful organisations never stand still – they are constantly evolving, adapting, and most importantly learning. This Learning at Work Week, I want to encourage all businesses to consider new ways to provide diverse learning and development opportunities to invest in the next generation of hard working individuals!”
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