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Why you should be investing in your staff

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Between 2011 and 2018, employment in the creative industries grew by an astonishing 30.6%, compared to the UK average of 10.1% according to official statistics, making it one of the fastest-growing sectors in the UK. However, while this growth may be creating exciting new opportunities for workers, it is also intensifying competition for the best talent and making retention even harder for employers.

By implementing a comprehensive learning and development (L&D) strategy, businesses can tackle this issue head-on. With the right L&D strategy, companies can create a culture of learning that encourages all employees, at all levels, to seek opportunities for growth.

Apart from the obvious business benefits that such a highly skilled workforce can provide, there is also a clear impact on employee retention. LinkedIn’s 2018 Workforce Learning Report found that 93% of employees surveyed said they would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. Not only that, but a clear commitment to training and development will also help employers to create a strong pool of internal talent that can be tapped into whenever the need arises.

So, the benefits of building a culture that supports L&D are clear, but how can companies get started? Here are some tips to kickstart the process:

Identify the what and how

Businesses should approach all training with a clear goal in mind; this could be increased sales, reduced employee turnover, or better client feedback. Once this goal has been identified, managers and employees can begin to explore how training can help to achieve it.

This kind of tuition can be provided by an external company, conducted by an internal ‘champion’, or can be self-led. With such a wealth of tools now at their disposal,  employees should be encouraged to pursue non-traditional methods of learning, such as a weekly podcast, a TED talk, or other online resources, using whatever is the most effective method for them.

Balance encouragement and proactivity  

For the greatest impact, organisations need to make L&D a core part of their culture. Managers should encourage their employees to be proactive in their learning. In an ideal world, employees will come to their managers with a list of what they need to learn, but some guidance will still be needed to keep employees on the right track and continuously learning.

Leaders also need to explain exactly what training is on offer, why they are offering it, and why employees should be involved. Once this is communicated, employees will be much more willing to take responsibility for their growth and develop a habit of learning.

Think about the pre and post of training  

It’s important to think very carefully about the desired outcome of any training - both before the course and after it.  Employees who understand the purpose of a training course are much more likely to use any lessons learnt outside of the classroom afterwards.

Employees and managers also need to have a plan in place to follow up on any knowledge that has been gained. For example, spending an afternoon learning how to present effectively – and then not presenting for over a year – is not going to help a person develop. However, arranging a practice presentation between an employee and their manager, and including timely and specific feedback, can help to improve these skills dramatically.

It’s also important for managers to assess the impact of this training. Evaluating the return on investment can be overlooked by many organisations but assessing for the desired goal and behaviour change is extremely important. By tracking the effectiveness of an L&D strategy, its impact on employees and the business can be strengthened.

For all these reasons, the business advantages of a culture of learning and development cannot be understated. Given the current competition for talent, economic uncertainties, and technological innovations, a commitment to learning and development is a vital way of building a highly skilled group of employees right now, as well as a strong pool of internal talent ready to take the helm in the future.

Aliya Vigor-Robertson, co-founder at JourneyHR.

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