Giving learning power to your people in an age of remote working
As our way of working continues to evolve, the ‘one size fits all’ approach to learning is no longer appropriate. Instead, companies should be looking at ways to make personal learning budgets accessible to all employees.
Employers are beginning to consider what the post lockdown world of work might look like. All we know is that we can expect a new hybrid and flexible workplace, which will blend remote working with some physical interaction. This is going to transform management and leadership, and the question of how to engage and motivate employees will be top of mind.
Employees who have control over their personal learning budgets are more likely to spend money on learning opportunities they will actually use that will be beneficial to them.
Personal learning budgets will play a bigger role in a remote working world to support and enable your employees to take ownership of their development. They are effective in elevating your learning and development programme and should be seen as a strategic tool that evolves your employees and your business.
Instead of telling employees what they can and cannot access, or requiring your employees to request money to invest in their learning, you’re giving them the responsibility and the accessibility to manage this themselves. This can have untold benefits for a remote team and a company as a whole.
Personal learning budgets give your people the power to own their learning journey and to choose what they engage with. This correlates to greater confidence and trust. It goes without saying that this is vital with a remote workforce, where you need to balance support and guidance with individual responsibility and choice.
It also goes to show that L&D managers and HR personnel don’t need to spend their time creating generalised and formal training, they can instead focus on giving their employees the control to select learning resources they need that are specific to them from a ground-up approach, which is essential for any company looking to embed a self-directed learning culture.
Employees who have control over their personal learning budgets are more likely to spend money on learning opportunities they will actually use that will be beneficial to them. Far too often L&D departments centrally organise training opportunities or purchase content that employees fail to show up to or utilise, which results in a lack of buy-in from the employee. Personal learning budgets eradicate this to a large extent.
You can visibly demonstrate your investment in employees’ broader personal and professional development via a personal learning budget.
We’ve seen employers subscribing to enterprise-wide content libraries, only to see around 10% engagement. Rather than wasting resources in this way, why not equip employees with a budget to choose what and how they want to learn? Not everyone learns in the same way and employees are more likely to engage and invest in materials that are not restricted to a limited content library and that they select for themselves based on their learning preferences. In doing so, you turn the fixed cost of these enterprise licenses into a variable one, where the expenditure is applied at the point of need with a much higher level of engagement and subsequently better return on investment.
Learning as a benefit
Before Covid-19 you may have been talking about your ping-pong table, free snacks and drinks access, but in a remote work environment, you need to adjust the benefits you offer. Offering learning as a benefit is a great way of attracting talent. Companies such as GoCardless, Duedil and Curve showcase their learning budgets to attract new talent on their hiring page, strategically setting themselves apart.
In fact, the latest research from Wilson-Grey shows that 40% of employees are looking for learning budgets from their employers – a number that will only continue to rise in the current climate where employees need to feel connected to the company.
Personal learning budgets, as yet, are not a mainstream benefit across companies. Implementing them now and leading the way will place you above others in attracting talent in competitive markets.
Boost employee engagement
One of the key drivers for employee engagement is personal growth. In many organisations which may be flat (especially startups and scale-ups), it may not be possible to promote everyone or to have a distinct career ladder in place. Instead, you can visibly demonstrate your investment in employees’ broader personal and professional development via a personal learning budget.
Personal learning budgets also give clarity and direction to manager one-to-ones where the process becomes less of a check-up and more of a check-in. Employees know their managers are there to help them develop into the person and professional they want to be.
At Learnerbly, we have seen clients experience a 100% uplift in 'personal growth' scores within their overall employee engagement tracking as a result of adopting this approach.
People often know best, with the support of their managers, the career path they want to follow and what they need to work on to achieve professional goals.
Personal learning budgets allow them the opportunity to engage with their managers in their own development and to choose how they improve for self and company benefit.
An employee’s interests and skills may be broader than the role they have today and managers can use cues and signals displayed by employee interest as a way of starting a career conversation. Understanding an employee’s development goals will be essential to retaining top talent and nurturing the transformation of employees you already know and trust for future roles.
The benefits of personal learning budgets on a remote workforce don’t come from implementation alone. Strategy and support need to surround their existence.
Reflect on how a more remote workforce will impact your own strategy in terms of delivery of L&D and your rewards and benefits offering and how you can combine the two to result in higher employee engagement and better return on investment.
Interested in this topic? Read How to better support your flexible learners.
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Rajeeb is passionate about helping people connect to opportunities and flourish in their careers. Most recently he launched Learnerbly – a workplace learning platform powered by experts. Learnerbly is working with forward thinking clients such as IDEO, ustwo, Carwow, GoCardless and others to helps their employees find the best classes,...