According to SkillSoft’s survey of 500 UK businesses executives, only 54% believed that employee training programmes could generate long-term profits for the organisation – citing employee morale and satisfaction as key reasons to implement them instead.
This disconnect between the true value of Learning & Development (L&D) initiatives and how C-level executives perceive them creates a constant pressure to justify spending; demonstrate valuable ROI; and show benefits of employee training that upper management will agree with.
However, there is increasing evidence that these employee training benefits exist; they just need to be showcased in the right way to resonate with your C-level executives.
1. Tell them it’ll help fill the in-house skills shortage
According to the same SkillSoft survey, 83% of surveyed business leaders characterised their organisations as skill builders. This implied they were eager to retain staff, motivate them to increase productivity and improve performance.
However, when asked about filling open roles, only 46% looked internally for potential candidates. Clearly, something is going amiss here.
Leaders want employees to stick around, yet more than half of them will act as skill buyers, looking to hire outside the company, rather than skill builders.
Enter L&D programmes. Because organisations that can reach sustainable growth must rely on a built-in capability to plan for changes in the demand and supply of skills.
Remind leaders that their workforce has to be multiskilled to be agile – and that their company must support actual skill building to merit ‘skill builder’ status. Then propose investing in learning and development programmes as their way forward.
2. Tell them how much it'll reduce hiring costs
The second benefit follows directly from the first.
According to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, hiring an employee in a company with 0-500 people costs an average of $7,645.
From time and money spent on working with recruiters or hiring in-house HR personnel, to money spent on career events, job boards, background checks and onboarding, hiring suitable candidates makes a significant dent in a company’s bottom line.
And that number at the bottom of the spreadsheet doesn’t even factor in the time and effort invested in on-boarding a new starter.
These costs can creep up considerably for companies struggling to find the right employees – especially for leading positions. Not prioritising building a strong, multiskilled workforce who can fill in-house skill gaps in these situations often leads to unexpected firing and rehiring costs.
Use old HR budgets to do the maths: show in numbers that training – and then promoting internally – instead of constantly hiring is hands-down the most cost-effective solution.
3. Tell them it'll help improve retention
Very little cripples employee initiative and innovation faster than a dead-end job.
Which is why employee training is such a valuable asset in opening doors, improving job satisfaction, and reducing staff turnover across the organisation.
It helps foster individual growth in order to attain larger goals – ideally within the company.
Unfortunately, L&D leaders face another challenge here, which has to do with the delivery of their programmes. Traditional classroom setups with instructor-led training is not only expensive, but it can also backfire by becoming a chore for employees.
Sell these programmes with the big retention picture in mind: as training opportunities that both business leaders and your employees will love you for implementing.
To sum up
Boardroom executives often have trouble reconciling individual growth with business goals. While they are not averse to deploying employee training programmes, they often see them as a nice disposable extra – or a last-minute fix – rather than a long-term benefit.
The challenge, then, is to emphasise that the training programmes you introduce not only tick all the boxes for employees, but also provide tangible value across the organisation.
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