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From increased productivity to retention

Start with the ‘why’ and you can see that in today's fast-paced and competitive business environment, employee learning and development has become an indispensable tool for organisations aiming to secure a competitive edge. But what about the ‘how’?

How does this work, in terms of the pathways that lead from learning through to the ultimate drivers for commercial success? In this article, we'll explore the multifaceted benefits of employee learning and development, illustrating how it can lead to increased productivity and higher employee retention rates.

The foundation of employee learning and development

Before diving into the many advantages of employee learning and development, it's helpful to understand what we mean by this concept. Employee learning and development refers to the systematic approach of enhancing employees' knowledge, skills, and competencies to help them grow within their roles and careers. It involves training, coaching, mentorship, workshops, online courses, pro bono engagement and any other form of structured learning experiences aimed at upskilling and reskilling the workforce.

Increased productivity: A natural outcome

Skill advancement

One of the most evident benefits of employee learning and development is the advancement of skills and competencies. When employees are equipped with the knowledge and abilities required to excel in their roles, they become more productive. Enhanced skills mean quicker and more accurate task completion, which leads to a boost in overall productivity.

Problem-solving capabilities

Learning and development initiatives often include problem-solving and critical-thinking exercises. These experiences equip employees with the skills needed to tackle complex challenges efficiently. As employees become better problem solvers, they can navigate unexpected issues, adapt to changes, and contribute to the organisation's success more effectively.

Pilotlight’s own programmes offer real life, business critical problem solving. All our programmes revolve around employees from business sharing their skills and either coaching or, via a consultancy approach, delivering recommendations to mission-critical challenges a charity is facing right now. By using their expertise honed via business on a live problem -as opposed to a classroom or hypothetical activity- they accelerate their learning and are more likely to embed this learning back to business as usual.

Self organisation and better time management

Effective learning and development programmes often include time management and organisational skills training. These skills are crucial for ensuring that employees work efficiently and prioritise tasks effectively. Improved time and task management reduces procrastination, prevents burnout, and ultimately enhances productivity.

Some can also enhance resources management. In our field of pro bono learning, this is often a point of revelation. By working with charities where budgets are tight, our programme participants are forced to be innovative with budgets and resources when developing recommendations that a charity will be able to take forward. It’s incredible what helping a small charity, that is relied upon by thousands of disadvantaged people, can do to make employees rethink how to use resources they would take for granted in business.

Increased confidence

As employees grow and develop their skills, they naturally become more confident in their abilities. Self-confidence is a powerful driver of productivity as it empowers employees to take the initiative, make decisions, and assume leadership roles when needed.

Less supervision required

Well-trained employees require less supervision, as they can be entrusted with tasks and projects that might otherwise need constant oversight. From a compliance perspective, whether cyber security or keeping to regulatory guidance, this means less time policing what staff are doing. This frees up management's time and allows them to focus on strategic initiatives, further increasing overall productivity.

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The impact on employee retention

Career development opportunities

The saying is that employees don’t just sign a legal contract with their employer, they also have a psychological contract and this set of mutual expectations is what matter most in terms of how well people work. These expectations for staff, more than ever, are around learning, so that a good employer will be one who nurtures their development and growth and contributes to career options and opportunities over time. For Gen Z and millennials, the norm is to be more demanding on this, making employee investment all the more important for the future workforce.

Enhanced job satisfaction

Job satisfaction is intrinsically linked to employee retention. When employees feel that their development is a priority, they are more likely to remain with the organisation. Learning and development initiatives can help employees see a clear path for their future within the company, making them less inclined to seek opportunities elsewhere.

Attraction of top talent

Organisations known for their commitment to learning and development tend to attract top talent more easily. Talented individuals are not just looking for a job; they are seeking opportunities to grow and advance in their careers. Companies that invest in employee development have a distinct advantage in attracting and retaining the best and the brightest.

Fostering a learning culture

A strong learning and development culture not only benefits current employees but also attracts new ones. When a company is known for fostering a culture of continuous learning and growth, it becomes a more attractive place to work. Prospective employees can see that the organisation values its workforce and is invested in their professional development.

Improved employee engagement

Employee engagement is a significant factor in retention. Engaged employees are more committed to their work and the organisation. Learning and development initiatives, when effectively implemented, contribute to increased engagement levels by demonstrating that the company cares about its employees' success and well-being.

Adaptability to change

Organisations that invest in employee learning and development are better equipped to adapt to change. The business landscape is continually evolving, and companies that can pivot and embrace new technologies and methodologies thrive. Skilled and adaptable employees are the cornerstone of this capability.

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Implementing employee learning and development

To maximise the benefits of employee learning and development, it is helpful if organisations are able to implement effective strategies such as:

  • Individualised development plans

Each employee's learning needs are unique. Organisations should work with employees to create individualised development plans that align with their career aspirations and the company's objectives. This personalisation ensures that the learning experience is tailored to each employee, enhancing the impact.

  • Accessible Learning Resources

Offer a variety of learning resources, including in-house training, external courses, workshops, and online learning platforms. Accessibility is key, as it allows employees to engage in learning at their own pace and in ways that suit their learning styles.

  • Leadership buy-in

Leadership must champion learning and development initiatives. When executives and managers actively participate in and support these programmes, employees are more likely to follow suit.

  • Regular assessments

Conduct regular assessments to measure the impact of learning and development efforts. Gather feedback from employees and review performance metrics to gauge the effectiveness of these initiatives. Adjust the strategies as needed to ensure they continue to align with organisational goals and employee needs.

  • Support a learning culture

Foster a culture of learning within the organisation by promoting curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. Encourage employees to explore topics of interest and create opportunities for knowledge sharing.

Employee learning and development is a powerful strategy for organisations looking to increase productivity and retain their top talent. How does it do this? By providing opportunities for skill advancement, problem-solving, time management, and confidence-building, companies and their employees come together to be more productive in creating value for the future. At the same time, investing in learning and development creates a positive feedback loop that leads to better job satisfaction, reduced turnover, attraction of top talent, and an adaptable, engaged workforce.

The ‘why’ and the ‘how’ for systematic employee learning and development have compelling answers. So if you haven’t yet started on this journey in full, the answer to the next question - of ‘when’ - is simple. It is right now.

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Increase employee and retention

At Pilotlight, we witness the positive effects of experiential learning to increase employee productivity, engagement and retention every day. Our learning programmes enable employees to gain valuable insights and experiences while making a positive impact in the community. 

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