How to get businesses on board with learning and development

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Many businesses are failing to invest in employee training for a variety of reasons, but this can prove a costly mistake. Here are the four most common objections to investing in learning and development and how to challenge them.

A third of businesses in the UK do not offer their employees any time for training or development in order to enhance their professional lives.

This is not only harmful to the individual staff members, with their career prospects and skill sets being held back, but also to the companies themselves, who are failing to maximise the potential of their workforces.

Investing in learning and development is beneficial to everyone in an industry, but employers can cite a variety of reasons for neglecting to do so.

Here, I’ll run through some of the most common excuses businesses use when challenged about their lack of staff learning and development opportunities, as well as providing suggestions on how to get them on board.

Time restraints

Perhaps the main reason why businesses don’t offer time for learning and development is that they don’t believe that their workforce has the capacity to fit it into their schedules.

It is so important to emphasise the benefits of learning and development so that employers find time to squeeze it in.

A more knowledgeable and skilled set of staff will be more productive, feel more comfortable at work and generally generate better results.

Companies should offer regular opportunities for staff to improve themselves in order to maintain morale and retain the best workers.

If businesses are seriously concerned about their employees taking time out, then they should explore online courses, which can often be done at an individual’s own pace. This way, they can train whenever they have an opportunity, but return to work if something urgent arises.

Lack of budget

When asked what is the biggest barrier for workplaces allowing staff members to spend time upskilling, over half (52%) of UK employees said budget.

Money is going to be a consideration for every single business decision and a lot of learning and development courses can be fairly expensive. However, employees, HR staff or whoever is responsible for training can point to the cost-benefit ratio of such courses to justify such an investment.

A more knowledgeable and skilled set of staff will be more productive, feel more comfortable at work and generally generate better results.

With greater levels of performance, profits will improve and the cost of the initial training spend will be completely forgotten.

Budget allocated to learning and development is money well spent and will often pay for itself over time.

If employers are still cautious about the expenditure, they can even seek funding to cover the costs.

Government initiatives such as the R&D Tax Credit scheme has helped thousands of businesses claim back up to 33% of costs invested into research and development, creating the cash required to allow them to invest in their people.

Not a priority

Some companies may not offer opportunities for staff development because they simply don’t see the value in them.

Bosses may believe that their employees are already fully qualified for the jobs they do and that further training beyond their job title is unnecessary.

While this is perhaps an understandable way of thinking in some sectors, it can also be dangerous.

Our research found that a quarter of office workers invest no time in learning new skills or further education to enhance their professional life.

If workers don’t feel that their employers care enough about them to invest time and money in their progress, they may feel unmotivated to work, reducing overall productivity in the process.

On the flip side, if a company is actively looking to develop its staff and workers can see that they are being valued, they are more likely to put 100% into their shifts and take pride in what they do.

If you don’t invest in learning and development for your staff, then someone else will.

Your best employees will have their heads turned and soon you’ll be left with a worker shortage, leading to higher recruitment and basic training costs.

If learning and development isn’t currently a priority for businesses, then it should be or they’ll suffer in the long run.

Employee interest

Of course, responsibility for learning and development doesn’t just sit with employers.

The workers themselves need to be actively looking for opportunities to develop and be encouraging their companies to support them.

Our research found that a quarter of office workers invest no time in learning new skills or further education to enhance their professional life.

Whether it’s a lack of time, money or general awareness of opportunities, there’s always a solution.

This could be for a variety of reasons. Some might even feel guilty for not doing ‘actual work’ while on the training course, when they could be performing their day-to-day tasks.

I’ve outlined some of the many benefits to learning and development, so hopefully it’s clear why this line of thinking is misguided.

I’ve already mentioned how many businesses aren’t exploring training options for their staff and while they do have a duty to do so, a little pressure from a workforce means that they have to pay attention.

If an employee approaches their boss with a learning opportunity, it shows that there is an interest and might encourage the company to spend more time and money in the area.

Finding a solution

Employees are any business’ most valuable assets, so it is important that all companies, no matter what industry, allow workers to invest time in learning new skills or training that will support their career.

Not only will this support staff morale and satisfaction levels, it can have a huge impact on your business’ productivity.

Whether it’s a lack of time, money or general awareness of opportunities, there’s always a solution.

The benefits of learning and development for staff mean that it is certainly worth the effort in finding the one for you.

Want to learn more? Read Performance management: should we stop trying to measure the ROI of training and development?

About Mike Price

Mike Price, MPA Group

Mike Price founded MPA Group in 2007, tailoring the business to support the UK’s innovators and entrepreneurs. MPA Group is a tax specialist company which advises innovative UK businesses on how to fully benefit from government funding schemes like Patent Box or R&D tax credits. We believe that growth through innovation is at the heart of the future success of the UK – we want to support UK companies by helping them to obtain funding, create jobs and access the markets they need to thrive.

Many businesses struggle to identify which schemes they qualify for or what they can claim for, as well as how different schemes might work together. We support innovative businesses, guiding them through this process with a team of technical experts and tax specialists, who have so far secured over £170million in government funding for our clients.

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