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How to Make a Business Case for Continuous Learning

June 30, 2021 | By Asha Pandey


How to Make a Business Case for Continuous Learning

Change is a constant force. Continuous learning enables employees and employers to capitalize on change and be ready to face upcoming challenges and remain competitive. In this article, I explain how to build a business case for continuous learning.

Why Is Continuous Learning and Development a Necessity for Employers and Employees in Organizations?

The workplace is in constant flux, especially but not solely limited to knowledge work. Considering the challenges of today’s market, upskilling and reskilling workers is now more important than in the past. Continuous learning and development facilitates the ongoing development of skills and capabilities, enabling employees and employers to keep up with, and perhaps even lead, the changing workplace.

Those businesses who build a case for and follow through with a plan for continuous learning and development are more able to remain competitive. Those who don’t will likely fall behind the competition and are likely to be impacted by upstart firms (who have the continuous learning focus).

How Do Employees Benefit from Continuous Learning in the Workplace?

Employees often site learning and development opportunities offered by a company as one of the most important factors when considering a job offer.

  • Employees benefit from continuous learning and development as they keep their skills sharp, develop new skills, and prepare for their next role.
  • Learning engages employee creativity, sparking innovation in process and products.
  • Mastery of a skill is one of the three pillars to engage employees (the other two are autonomy and purpose).

How Do Employers Benefit from Continuous Learning in the Workplace?

Employers benefit from continuous learning and development as they build a highly skilled, engaged, and productive workforce. There is a direct correlation that these factors have on the bottom line.

Upskilling and reskilling employees helps employers stay ahead of their competition. Upstart firms often develop strategies, technologies, and products that upset the market, but companies who continuously develop their employees see those new strategies, technologies, and products before their competition. Innovation thrives in an environment of learning.

Employees are more engaged when learning continuously. Happier employees are more dedicated to the mission and strategy of a company, removing much of the pressure for recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new employees. As tenure increases, teams can form more cohesive units working efficiently and effectively.

Companies can build leadership skills, ensuring that their management and executive teams can quickly backfill vacated roles. Strong individual and team leadership is difficult to recruit. Developing that within a company ensures long-lasting competitive advantages for employers.

Making a Business Case for Continuous Learning in the Workplace – The Process

When making a business case for continuous learning and development (that upskills and reskills employees), call out the following factors:

  1. Continuous learning helps create agility within organizations. Organizations can quickly react to changing market needs or, more importantly, can create those changes in the market.
  2. Organizations can reskill employees rapidly so that their competencies match those required by dynamic customer requests and expectations.
  3. As employees learn to learn, they become more agile They become better at seeing the big picture, thinking strategically, and then executing tactical plans. They can evaluate progress on the fly and make changes when needed.
  4. An organization that fosters a culture of continuous learning is prepared to meet the future and thrive in the unknown. It can upskill employees as they seek to continuously evolve with the market.
  5. Promoting continuous learning in an organization fuels innovation – incremental, sustaining, and disruptive innovations.
  6. Formal training becomes more effective as informal training opportunities are used to plant seeds, support during the training, reinforce important principles, and serve as performance support after the training.
  7. Often, self-directed learning is more applicable to upskilling in the flow of work, enhancing employee effectiveness.
  8. Continuous learning creates a common culture within organizations. Often, employees even begin using a shared vocabulary as a shorthand to reinforce new ideas and work through difficult problems.

Making a Business Case for Continuous Learning and Development – Impact on the Bottom Line

Identify the following factors as impacts to the bottom line when creating a business case for continuous learning:

  1. Reduced time to proficiency directly impacts a business’s bottom line because employees are on the job more and in the classroom less. Their time is spent doing the work they’ve been trained to do.
  2. As employees implement what they’ve been upskilled to do, they can innovate new products, creating new revenue for employers.
  3. Upskilling employees creates opportunities for companies to identify where inefficiencies exist and can be remedied, saving costs to the company in lost revenue and time.
  4. Employees thrive in an environment of continuous learning and are more engaged, reducing turnover and the associated recruiting costs – directly impacting the business’s bottom line.
  5. Employers who invest in upskilling employees face less exposure to risk, saving the firm money in legal fees.
  6. In the flow of work performance improves in a culture of continuous learning.
  7. Formal training costs are reduced in an environment where continuous learning is encouraged. Employees seek out knowledge on their own, often coaching and mentoring each other.
  8. Employees become more accountable for their own learning and should demonstrate what they’ve done with what they’ve learned. Innovations such as Gmail came from the time Google employees spent developing their skills and evaluating what is needed to be done outside their normal project work.

Parting Thoughts

Companies gain a competitive advantage through fostering a culture of continuous learning and development. Employees sharpen their skills, remain relevant, move ahead in their industry, as well as become more engaged.

I hope this article helps you build a case for continuous learning and see how important it is for both employers and employees.

Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.

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