As the book Strengths Finder 2.0 revealed, my number one strength is learning. It therefore comes as no surprise that I am huge advocate of learning & development at work, and by that I do not mean on the job learning (even though it’s important). I’m talking about taking courses, attending conferences, watching presentations etc.
Today I want to talk about why I believe it’s important to invest in employees’ learning & development. Surprisingly as I did research for this blog post, I did not find many articles addressing this, so I hope you find it interesting.
It can be hard for companies to “take the plunge” and invest in learning & development for employees, not least because of the cost. It also means giving employees time off from their job, which means a short period of decreased productivity, though of course that can (and should) be planned for.
That being said, as a manager I believe it’s your responsibility to advocate for training for your direct reports, much as your manager should help you secure the training you need to develop.
Ideally this should be part of a larger development and career progression plan so that the employee knows how this is helping them on their career path, whilst the employer knows how it brings added value back to the business.
Here are my top 4 reasons why you should invest in your L&D now:
- It helps employees grow as professionals & improves performance. Often I feel that work is sort of like “school for adults”, except we are paid to go and we have more responsibilities. If this is school then learning needs to happen, especially since we are all after the holy grail of “work experience”. By supporting employees to hone existing skills, or learn new ones that will make them better at their job, we are helping them become better versions of themselves. And who wouldn’t want that? In addition, by helping employees stay up to date or improve ultimately we are increasing productivity. It’s a win-win for all!
- It deepens employee engagement. Employees often invest a lot in a company, a job, and their work. While this is normal (after all, you are expected to do a good job), it’s also important for that to be recognized and rewarded, particularly after longer periods of service. Investing in an employee’s training will help them to feel valued and invested in, that you are helping them further their career and want them to continue it within the company. In turn, they are more likely to stay loyal to the company. It’s no surprise that ones winning “best employer” are also the ones offering lots of training opportunities to employees (amongst other things).
- It creates headspace and brings new ideas. Attending training (be it in person or online) gives employees a break from their day to day, a time to rest their brain from the daily grind and bring in fresh thinking. It exposes them to new ideas or tactics, and when attending a training in the flesh it also allows them to meet new people. All of this is an opportunity to explore new ways of doing things, think differently and use new approaches. All of this means employees will come back refreshed, with new thinking they can apply to their job but also share back with others.
- It develops employees’ curiosity. Not everyone is naturally curious or a learner, and yet many articles discuss the importance of curiosity. Giving employees regular opportunities to follow training can help develop their appetite for learning, and in turn their curiosity. If they are more curious at work and bring back a greater desire to learn, this will bring many more advantages beyond their improved skillset. It may mean they will start to look at things differently, question things more, and potentially think outside the box.
What about you, do you think learning & development is important at work? If so, why?