2020 has been one big learning curve. It’s forced us to consider our resilience, adaptability and ability to truly connect. It’s shown us that quite often the most important lessons we have are not the ones taught in classrooms or lecture halls but the ones we experience every day from the mistakes we make, the people we meet or the decisions that lead us in one direction or another.
These experiences are a vital part of our own personal development and growth but it’s also important to be more purposeful and deliberate about your own learning, both personally and professionally. Research shows that when we spend time learning new skills or knowledge, particularly if that’s fairly complex, we can actually boost new brain cell production which can slow the cognitive ageing process.
When did you last spend time thinking about what you want to learn or get better at? It’s so tempting to think that we leave structured learning behind after formal education but there’s such a wealth of resources* available. With so much learning almost exclusively online now there’s really no reason not to be filling our brains with wonderfully new and interesting information!
When it comes to developing at work, there is a joint responsibility between ourselves and the businesses we work for to ensure that learning never stops. Smart businesses invest in their employees’ development. When we say invest, it’s as much about time, support and guidance as it is about money. Smart businesses foster a learning culture by striking a balance between informal, on-the-job learning and more directed learning – training courses, coaching, qualifications etc - where it can add genuine value. And smart employees own their development: creating and embracing learning opportunities and putting new skills and behaviours into action.
Still not sure whether to invest in learning? Take a look at some of the hard evidence as to why it makes business sense:
Raises overall company performance: Successful organisations that ensure their employees have the right knowledge, tools and skills to do their jobs well have higher engagement levels and are 21% more profitable.
Improves employee retention, reducing turnover costs: People stay in a business when they can see opportunities for career progression and are able to develop their skills in relation to this. So investing in learning and growth opportunities can reduce your turnover costs – which can be much higher than you realise as it’s not just about the cost of advertising and hiring (those agency fees aren’t cheap) but the indirect costs as a result of lost productivity. Take a look at recent work done by UK firm Accounts & Legal where they breakdown and calculate potential costs as up to 50% of the leaving employee’s salary.
Improves job performance and inspires people to deliver: Focusing on the right skills, at the right level for the right people will create renewed focus and confidence. They will be more driven to deliver on their goals and more skilled to do so. According to a 2018 survey by Totaljobs, 81% of employers saw their staff perform better after training with 90% stating that upskilling an individual also improved wider team performance.
Creates a good culture and brand reputation: When investing in employees is set as a priority it creates a culture where people feel valued, supported and where they believe their talents can be nurtured. People don’t just pick a job because of the salary: personal and professional development matters too. 2019 research with over 150 UK Heads of L&D showed that in fact 42% of the workforce rated investment in their learning as the one of the most important employee benefits.
If you want to attract and retain great people, you need to invest in their learning. We now live in an age where we demand more from businesses than ever before: 9 in 10 employees want their employer to offer more training to develop new skills. Businesses who don’t will be left behind. Although the job market has been quiet this year, it is picking up and there are attractive options out there, so don’t make the mistake of thinking people won’t want to move right now. If their skills are left to atrophy, they will find somewhere else where learning is prioritised.
As a provider of people development we are delighted to read LinkedIn’s Leading with Learning report from June 2020 which stated 76% of L&D professionals in the UK say more chief executives are now actively championing the development of their workforce since the COVID-19 outbreak, up from 28% in a comparable study conducted in October 2019. Of course, the pandemic has thrown up the challenge of a very different landscape of work and we know that purse strings are tighter than ever before but there are ways to encourage learning for yourself, in your team and in your organisation.
So whether you’re going to read a new book, listen to a podcast, attend a virtual networking event to meet new people, sign up for an online course or take part in a full upskilling training programme, do it and see what a difference it makes.
*Get inspired by checking out one of the amazing learning platforms here! https://learnerfix.com/online-learning-platforms/