Why is it even important that you build a culture which champions learning and development? While this might seem a ridiculous question to some, it is, unfortunately, a fact that many businesses, who have failed to move forward with a view for real growth and progression will ask upon seeing a title such as this one. Is learning and development not upon the individual, to upskill themselves and maintain themselves as the most desirable candidates to progress through their career? Well yes, but also no. There is now a responsibility for businesses to become a source of upskilling. Training and development opportunities need to come from businesses for a range of reasons, which benefit a much bigger picture than just the candidates.
Businesses benefit from and search for the most talented and skilled staff available.
As the most talented and skilled staff begin to search for more from their employers, businesses can attract the best staff by offering perks and opportunities, such as training and skill development to further their career. – this shows more value to the staff in a time where employees want to feel valued – this is what they value.
By offering training and development you’re both attracting the best and most curious staff and creating better staff, and overall helping to close the digital skills gap!
If businesses didn’t train their staff and reskill them regularly, there would be no ‘best talent’ left as those coming out of school, college or university will not be versed in the next levels of coding or social marketing, app development or skills we have not yet heard of, needed in the workplace immediately and not in 1, 2 or 3 years time when the educational system has had the chance to incorporate them into the curriculum.
The digital skills gap can be bridged by the constant development of current staff, its what workforces need and want and what businesses and employers should want and pursue.
Creating this culture in the workplace
The most effective way in which you can demonstrate the culture that your business is promoting is to openly and loudly offer the opportunities to learn and develop skills and to lead by example.
If this is through the running of your own courses, purchasing tickets to relevant talks, directing workers to the right resources, then do it openly and clearly, your workforce will not know that the opportunity is there unless you tell them and they’ll appreciate your proactiveness much more than if they had to hunt down the right person and ask for the learning opportunities themselves.
Management should be seen to be embracing the opportunities and openly diving into further developing their skills. Some employees have a burning desire, but we’re all different and some might need to be inspired, encouraged or even given a little push in the right direction. In the same breath, it’s important not to push the idea of learning to forcefully; remember you’re trying to change the culture for learning and development, not enforce it. Make the materials or the opportunities known and readily available to access at any time so that your workforce can take control of their own learning and not view it as a mandatory task.
How do you know which kind of learning and development opportunities you should be providing?
Your staff are the ones who know where their skills are lacking, they are best placed to inform you what they need to learn. Remember when you speak with them to let them in on why you’re asking them, they’re more likely to be honest about their knowledge gaps if they know a positive and constructive outcome is on the horizon.
Your second valuable source of information is your clients providing kind of clients you aspire to attain, identify their needs, both current and future, and compare this with what your workforce is currently capable of. Here you will be able to identify gaps and fill them appropriately!
While various forms of tech skills are the obvious choice, don’t neglect to acknowledge that we’re experiencing a huge change in the way that we work and communicate in the workplace, in what a workforce expects from their employers and what clients expect from their service, plus today’s workforces are vastly multi-generational. With all of this in mind, it’s key not to neglect the development of soft skills too! ‘77% of employers still agree that soft skills are as important as hard skills. ‘ (Skillsurvey)
Involving your staff in the discussion around the learning and development you’re encouraging is the best way to actively change the culture. If your teams are comfortable talking about learning experiences and the things that they would like to learn, then you’re taking bigger steps to not only introducing learning and development but developing a pro-learning and development culture.
You might also get enthusiastic staff to organise their own skillshare sessions, by leaving this in the hands of your workforce, the action lies with them and from here the culture can begin to positively develop into a pro-learning and development one.
How much do you invest in this?
The need to invest is there, but the degree to which you commit to it can be defined, of course, by you. Businesses will benefit differently from the investment they put into learning and development, so do what’s right for you; monitor your ROI in learning and development.
Are you saving money and time in your HR and recruitment department as your staff are staying with you and taking on bigger roles and responsibilities?
Are you gaining more, better and happier clients who are bringing in bigger profits?
If the return is worth it, then continue or increase your investment, if not then perhaps you need to reassess the kind of development you’re investing in or really work on some of the above to more dramatically change the culture to embrace the changes you’ve invested in.