Why Small Employers Need a Learning and Development Plan

Aug 21, 2018
| Denise Furlani
Small employers need learning and development

Learning and development has undergone significant changes in recent years. Innovative ways of approaching this critical area of HR, including the rise of technology and personalization, have forever altered how businesses approach L&D.

In the past, formal learning and development programs were often associated with larger organizations. However, a shift has occurred thanks in large part because of L&D technology and employee expectations.

Today, even small employers need to have some type of learning and development plan in place, and here are eight reasons why.
 

1) Increase Retention

A common problem for smaller employers is losing their best employees to larger companies or other small businesses. While there are many ways to overcome this challenge, one is by having a learning and development plan in place.

Employees want to learn new skills and boost the ones they already have in hopes of advancing their careers. Additionally, the costs associated with having to replace an employee who leaves for another job are high.

By investing in your employees and their development, you help them increase their skillset while also lowering turnover!
 

2) Recruit Top Talent

Recruiting and retention go hand-in-hand, so it comes as no surprise that L&D also helps with talent acquisition. As we have already discussed, job seekers today (especially the best talent) have greater expectations of employers and more choices available to them than in years past. Failing to meet these expectations during the recruiting process likely means they’ll choose another employer.

Believe it or not, job seekers today value learning and development programs, and marketing this to a job seeker can help them explore a position at your company in more detail and consider whether to apply to your job opening.

With recruiting more difficult than ever before, smaller employers need to carefully explore all possible ways to be more attractive to top talent.
 

3) Boost Employee Engagement

All employers today want to increase employee engagement. Engaged employees tend to be more productive and less likely to leave an organization. Building L&D programs that help with employee development are great ways to boost engagement.

Employees see this as their employer taking interest in their development, which can make them more excited about not just L&D efforts, but also their jobs.

Additionally, employees who are engaged in company-wide L&D efforts set both themselves and the company up for future success. This is a win-win for everyone involved!
 

4) Increase Promoting from Within

The purpose of learning and development programs is to help employees build and improve their skills. Doing so helps employees advance in their careers and achieve professional goals.

For an employer, this increases the chances of promoting from within instead of recruiting externally. There are numerous studies and articles that explain the value of internal promotions as opposed to hiring from outside an organization, yet without formal L&D programs this can be difficult.

Another added advantage of promoting from within is that it helps to improve company culture while simultaneously increasing retention – both are critical for small employers.
 

5) Improve the Employee Experience

Employers today are becoming more aware of the employee experience and the important role it plays in the workplace. The experience employees have while at their workplace and in their positions plays a vital role in their overall productivity and happiness, both of which determine if an employee will look to leave.

Learning and development programs are a great way to add to the employee experience at your organization. They make employees feel more connected to their employer and role, and help employees reach professional milestones and goals.

All employers should look for ways to improve their employee experience, and adding in an L&D plan is one valuable option.
 

6) Better Productivity and Happiness

When employees are happy and productive in their roles, everyone benefits. For this reason, employers strive to make their workplace a fun and happy environment that helps to boost productivity. But did you know that learning and development efforts can also help to boost the productivity of a workforce?

This is a positive result that is important for both employees and employers – productive employees tend to be more engaged and can lead to raises and promotions, while increased worker productivity helps businesses reach goals and achieve better results.

It’s also important to note that employee happiness plays a key part in productivity and the employee experience. Keeping employees happy and engaged through L&D efforts will help to increase productivity.
 

7) Stay Ahead of Industry Disruptions

All industries experience new trends and disruptions that can have significant impacts for companies operating in the space. Within the last decade L&D itself had this happen with the rise of technology and the role it began to play.

When business leaders notice something that could end up being a disruption in the industry, incorporating it into L&D programs can help train employees so that the business doesn’t face as many challenges if and when the disruption becomes a norm.

Another added benefit to this type of employee development is it instills a company-wide mindset of learning about new practices, technology, workflows, or other things that can increase overall productivity and business performance. 

The value this can provide an employer is well worth the investment of a learning and development program and mindset.
 

8) Address the Skills Gap

We mentioned before that recruiting is harder than ever. One reason why is the skills gap that is currently impacting employers’ ability to recruit the right candidates. In addition to the skills gap, we are also currently in a talent shortage, making finding the perfect candidate that much harder.

By establishing a learning and development program, employers can help themselves overcome these issues by training their employees on the skills and experience needed by the organization.

This helps to address the skills gap, while also enabling employers to promote from within (which we mentioned earlier) and having to worry and spend less on recruiting.
 

Learning and Development Can Help Small Employers Overcome Modern Workplace Challenges

Learning and development is no longer just for large employers. Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) can reap the benefits these programs provide to employees and the organization.

Not investing in L&D and employee development can have negative consequences for small businesses, especially as the demand for these programs continues to grow.

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