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How does having a robust L&D strategy result in better consistency and lower cost?

In an ever-changing world of hiring, promoting, re-skilling, and the like, learning and development (L&D) leaders are found more often than ever asking themselves about the foundation upon which their strategy was built, and whether it can support the expanding needs of the business lines they reinforce. More than ever before, partner clients are approaching us with the realization that what they thought was a solid understructure ended up looking more like the family station wagon from National Lampoon’s Vacation. 

If you’re finding yourself looking at a teetering mountain of assets atop a ready-to-burst substructure, here are some questions to ask yourself about the “why” behind the feeling:

  • How long has it been since the L&D strategy in your organization was implemented, and when was the last time that strategy was examined?
  • What has growth looked like in your company, or even in your industry, in the past 18 months? 
  • How much have your roles and responsibilities changed in that same amount of time? Have you seen your workload stay the same, decrease, or increase?
  • Have company stakeholders changed since your L&D strategy was implemented? If so, have their strategy insights had impacts on the overall direction of your organization?

If any of these questions spurned some introspection and realization, take a deep breath – you’re not alone. In fact, you’re likely part of the majority. According to a 2020 study from Emerald Works, 66% of L&D professionals said that learning and development is becoming a more strategic part of their organization. That’s clearly a result of companies hearing that 70% of their employees would be at least somewhat likely to leave their current jobs to work for an organization that’s known for investing in their development and learning.

Knowing the value of a skilled workforce in your organization, you likely realize the cost (in dollars, time, and resources dedicated) of losing and replacing employees. Data gathered by HR experts Work Institute suggests that it costs approximately 33% of a worker’s annual salary to replace them due to lost institutional knowledge, time to find a replacement, and time for a new hire to become productive. That would mean for every lost employee making approximately $45,000 per year, it costs the organization $15,000 to replace them.

A way to combat these costs and increase employee morale & productivity: invest in organizational learning and development. If you’re reading this, you already know this is the case, but hopefully the statistics shown will help put your needs into tangible asks. The first step? Structural analysis. Is the old family station wagon still holding out, or is it time to consider your organization is needing a tractor-trailer? Has your growth or need for rapid onboarding outpaced your planned rollouts? Here are some ways to consider the real-life benefits gained from a thorough analysis:

  • A deeper understanding of employee need – actually asking them the questions and giving them an opportunity to express their feelings
  • A higher sense of employee satisfaction, knowing that they’ve potentially had an impact on the operations of their organization beyond their individual day-to-day responsibilities
  • A clear learning path, knowing where you’ve been and what’s coming up, to give needed transparency to the rest of the organization on how L&D is progressing as a whole
  • Better insights into the “why” – what’s working and what’s not? And what is the approach for making the needed changes?

In today’s deep-rooted cultures of learning and growth, knowing the strategy and executing on it are essential pieces of the overall success of an organization and its’ individual contributors. Partnering with experts in the field can help to give color to all of the gray space you might currently see, and could be the difference between a culture of stagnation and one of continuous learning & growth.