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Is inadequate workplace learning actually costing you money?

Most organisations would agree in theory that investing in staff training and development is a worthwhile venture. However, in our experience, for many companies workplace learning can easily slip down the list of priorities, or linger on the “someday” list while more immediate challenges are dealt with.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of paying lip service to the idea of providing effective learning opportunities while failing to pay enough attention to the quality and scope of that provision. This is especially true when budgets are tight, management teams are overstretched, or focuses shift to other areas of the business, such as new product development or the latest sales campaign.

In our opinion, failing to invest significant time and budget in workplace learning is shortsighted at best. Rather than seeing it as a “nice to have” which can be funded and addressed when the time is right, effective and engaging workplace learning provision is key to reducing a number of costs to your business, and has a tangible effect on the bottom line.

We’ve looked at a few common areas where improving access to learning in the workplace can have a direct effect on reducing costs:

Morale and motivation

Gallup estimates that in the US alone, low employee morale costs the economy somewhere in the region of $350 billion each year. Absenteeism, disengagement, distrust in management, poor communication and lack of accountability all contribute to increased costs and missed opportunities.

Hiring the best candidates is a great start, but if those candidates aren’t given the opportunity for continuous development and progress within the role, their initial enthusiasm and ambition can drop off quickly.

Efficiency

Increases in efficiency equal decreases in costs – that much is obvious. However, the role of workplace learning in improving efficiency is not simply restricted to saving time, or ensuring that procedures are followed.

The knock on effects of better trained and informed staff have a direct effect on profitability in a number of ways. Decreased waste, lower error rates, fewer missed deadlines, reductions in rework – all of these bring tangible benefits.

For example a US study of 3,100 companies by the National Center on the Educational Quality of the Workforce found that an increase in workforce education of 10% yielded an 8.6% gain in productivity.

Agility

A well informed and well trained workforce is an agile workforce. In many sectors, the difference between success and failure can be the ability to quickly and effectively respond to changing markets, competitors and trends.

If employees have access to the resources and training they need, can review their own learning and develop in real time and can communicate easily and effectively with management, their ability to respond to shifting priorities is significantly enhanced.

Retention

There are a variety of factors which affect staff turnover, but one of the most important is career progression. Having a clear idea of the possible routes available for promotion is a fundamental requirement to keep employees motivated, and this applies at all levels of an organisation.

Investing in training and development proves to your workforce that you’re committed to investing in their career, and encourages commitment in return. According to the 2018 Workforce Learning Report published by LinkedIn, 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers.

The main advantage of online learning in this area is that, when properly implemented, it promotes continuous learning, provides clear goals to work towards and fosters reflection on completed achievements.

Feeling overlooked can be demoralising for staff. For management, a well designed learning platform will also give an overview of how well different employees are engaging with their development within a role, allowing them to spot any issues and intervene at an early stage to prevent disengagement or burnout.

Brand

Successful branding hinges on consistency – consistency of message, consistency of service levels, consistency of the customer experience. To maintain your brand it’s absolutely vital that every member of your organisation is informed, enthused and allied to your core values and mission.

Without an effective system of workplace learning in place it can be extremely challenging to ensure this consistency, and communicate changes or developments as and when they occur.

Ideally you want each of your employees to be an enthusiastic and engaging brand ambassador – according to a 2017 study by the Edelman Trust customers view employees as the most credible source of information on a company (way ahead of CEOs!).

Risk

Whatever your business model, it’s likely that some form of compliance training is a necessity. Whether that’s legal or regulatory compliance, adherence to service level agreements, or simply ensuring an understanding of the processes and procedures needed to carry out day to day activities, making sure every employee is up to date is vital.

If not, the risk of falling foul of regulators, incurring penalties and fines, causing staff or customer injuries or simply losing customer confidence is heightened. Having a centralised learning management system allows access to at-a-glance reports highlighting any knowledge gaps or areas of non-compliance as well as scheduling refresher or top up training at the appropriate intervals.

When your business is budgeting for workplace learning, it’s worth reflecting on these areas. Developing and training staff shouldn’t be seen as an additional luxury, but a key part of the strategy – in fact, it shouldn’t even be viewed as a net cost. And the best and most efficient way to achieve sustained and relevant workplace learning is through a customised, personalised learning management system.

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