The One Where: We should all be in control of our own Learning and Development Budget

How many of your companies, get together to discuss the end of the year performance, and proudly announce they have spent X amount on learning and development, a Y% increase on the prior year? They then take the total amount spent, divide it by the total number of employee’s, and state “we have spent £1,000 on each employee”.

 

Now think about what learning and development you did last year. Was there value in that £1,000? Could you have spent it better? Companies often fall into the trap of purchasing a bulk learning package, because it offers ‘value’. But this is not always the smartest way to go, and we argue this approach considers learning and development as an expense and not an investment.

 

We will hasten to add, this story relates only to the learning and development budget the employer provides, separate to this should be your own learning and development budget, outside of the work environment, but we will come onto that in another story.

 

Of the training you did last year, how much of it was training you wanted to do? How much did you learn? Was it dictated to you, what training to do? There should always be an element of the company telling you what to do – this helps them with succession planning and identifying skill gaps. This will form part of your learning and development and should be clearly communicated to you as to why you have been selected to go on this course – harnessing our inner Simon Sinek “Start with Why” here!

 

There should also be a part where you tell the company what you want to do, in order to assist with your career development. This could be something closely linked with your current role or not, but it will be identified from intrinsic feedback, and will allow you to develop skills you have identified as needing to be learnt/updated. Think about where you are at the moment, and where you want to be. What training do you need to get from where you are now, to where you want to be?

 

It is this last part where we urge you to take more control. Learning and development should not always be dictated – it should be driven by you, the employee. You are responsible for your learning and development, but this must be supported by the company. You, the employee must assume control and push for this. The expression you don’t get what you don’t ask for is true, albeit a cliché.

 

Through taking an active role in your learning and development, you will find out if the company is willing to invest in you. Secondly, it will show the company you are proactive and that you want to develop and improve which will raise your profile in the company and finally, it will increase your repertoire. These are all things that need to be found out, displayed and achieved.

 

Learning and development has never been so important. A LinkedIn learning report found that 94% of employees, (https://learning.linkedin.com/resources/workplace-learning-report-2018) would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers. And just to be clear, the annual ethics, DSE and health and safety training, in our opinions, should not be considered training towards learning and development, albeit a necessary thing to complete.

 

We argue, the benefits of giving employees control of their learning and development budget transcends employee satisfaction. Hiring staff is generally more expensive then retaining staff, (https://www.tlnt.com/retaining-talent-is-more-cost-effective-than-hiring/), employers could then expect increased productivity through having an engaged workforce which will then feed through to the customers you serve. It is a win:win scenario.

 

Next time you have a 1:1/appraisal, take control of your learning and development and ask to be sent on the conference, training programme or seminar. Be proactive and take control of your learning and development budget.