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Use it or lose it this January

Written by Annette Cairns on .
Use it or lose it this January

Fear not, this isn’t another ‘New Year, New You’ motivational piece about getting your steps in, drinking less or finally using the gym membership you signed up to. More, a gentle nudge about the L&D Budget that might remain unspent as we get into the final quarter of the financial year.

Having worked internally in L&D departments we know how hard-won the budgets are. Feedback surveys, research, skills gap analysis, business cases and plenty of sweat probably went into the strategy. But what happens when it gets to the end of the year and for any number of reasons you haven’t spent the allocation? Let’s face it, the last year has seen us swing from the great resignation to a full recession, so it’s no surprise that these challenges may have sent your training plans off-course.

In fact, recent reports put people development at a 3 year low in terms of priority for HR.

And in the past 12 months, the focus has been on reviewing productivity and engagement whilst coming to terms with hybrid working being here to stay. Performance management and upskilling has been moved firmly to the bottom of the priority list . The scary thing here is that engagement and performance generally go hand in hand – highly engaged and motivated employees arguably perform better. If those difficult conversations around performance are handled badly, or not happening at all, how can we expect to see great productivity in the workplace?

So why the January blues?!

We’ve all spent time in January in a hurried attempt to use budget rather than lose it, and often a quick-fix approach to run another cohort of a training course will help in the short term. It’s certainly a way to safely tick a box (it’s worked before, so let’s repeat it) but likely doesn’t fit your longer-term objectives and current needs.

Because employees are demanding more.

Statistics show that personal development as a motivation for learning has risen from 20% in 2018 to 57% in 2021. * Mindtools

The disruption and forced ‘pause’ during the pandemic led to the great resignation where people left roles they no longer found fulfilling, heading for new jobs or even new careers that met their need for personal growth, and were more aligned with their values. Lockdown gave people a taste for personal development, and they want to continue seeing this opportunity in their everyday roles.

Now that the great resignation has settled, we need to address this intrinsic need for humans to learn and feel that they are growing, by upskilling them appropriately and supporting their personal development within the workplace. Not only will it lead to better skilled employees, but the knock-on effect is also better engagement, happier teams, and increased productivity.

“87% of HR leaders say that learning and development programs will be critical to retaining talent, according to Gartner.”

As the recession squeezes organisations from every angle, there is a need to retain talent that will keep business running smoothly, and in some cases stretching to cover more than just their own roles. Surely focusing on opportunities to increase learning within existing teams must be a more cost-effective strategy than simply hiring in new skills to fill a gap?

But where to spend for the biggest impact?

The simple answer is your leadership. Great leaders and managers have an impact on the way an entire organisation meets its goals, along with the capability to motivate and energise whole teams. If you’re keen to make a short-term impact with big results, leadership upskilling is where we recommend you focus your attention.

The past few years have changed the way we learn and work, and so have the ways in which we want our leaders to succeed. Leaders are expected to play their roles in a practical but human way, with better communication, useful skills and behaviour that results in productivity and efficiency all round. We expect empathy, transparency, resilience and people who inspire and motivate their team.

Even before the challenges of the pandemic, often people found themselves promoted into leadership roles without the tools, skills and experience to enable them to perform effectively. Factor in new leaders who haven’t been able to learn in person from others in the office, and the demand from Millennials for leadership training, and we are left with a definitive gap which needs to be addressed.

We suggest upskilling your leaders with relevant tools and skills to enable them to overcome challenges in this ever-changing world. Enabling them to develop personally and reach their full potential. Helping them understand themselves and their team better, to build confidence and competence to keep productivity and engagement high.

What’s important about finding a quick-win boost for leaders, is that they are given the ability to take these new skills, and understand where and how to implement them in the workplaces straight away. Once this becomes transferable, behaviours become the norm, and the longer term wins are seen across the team.

We work to make programmes pragmatic, relevant to the individual but meeting the needs of the organisation, and immediately transferable. Investing in your leaders will help to foster great teamwork and make steps to retaining your brilliant talent, so that you can ride out the uncertainty of 2023 and beyond.

Why not get in touch, and we can talk through creative, and innovative ways to boost your leadership, make the most of your budget, and improve your retention of great talent.

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