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Maximizing Your Learning and Development Budget in Uncertain Times

Maximizing Your Learning and Development Budget in Uncertain Times
play an important role in your career and life.

“Shwetha madam, GM is calling you, he’s in the conference room”, said the office boy while he passed by the cubicle of Ms. Shwetha, who works as Marketing Executive in one of the prominent mall management entities in Bengaluru. She’d just joined back to duty, returning from her home town in the outskirts of the Garden City after a prolonged 41 days of nation-wide lock-down induced by COVID-19 in the summer of 2020. As she slowly sank into the ‘new normal’ around her office, she entered the conference room to meet the Marketing Manager as well HR Manager along with the GM awaiting her.

After the formal exchange of inquiry of well-being between Ms. Shwetha and the managers, the HR Manager now digs into the set of papers lying before him in an attempt to find the report pertaining to her. Little did she know that those reports were about to change her life in a way she hadn’t even thought about.

Without taking much time, the GM zeroed down to the topic for which Ms. Shwetha was called in. “Shwetha, we know this will sound very disheartening to you as much as it did to us, in fact even more, but we are not in a position to do anything about this. The management, after giving very serious thought on this, has decided to terminate the services of a few of the employees with immediate effect and unfortunately you are one among them”.

This is just the story of one among lakhs of earning professionals losing their jobs amidst the outbreak of COVID-19 in our country in March 2020. One of the main reasons behind people losing their job in these unprecedented times is because of the fact that the companies find them less useful in such a serious and tough scenario and this could have been avoided to a certain extent if they had developed their skills alongside working to that extent where the companies found them still resourceful. Up-skilling has become the need of the hour in the wake of this new normal around us.

The COVID-19 outbreak changed life at work for tens of millions of human beings overnight. Many have had to quickly modify habits to remain productive and collaborative whilst working from home and for some, budgets have been frozen or reduced. The question is, how will you proceed to assist your people through uncertain times?

Many businesses pride themselves on how nicely they support their personnel with a beneficent professional development budget—and they should, as the Association for Talent Development (ATD) determined that companies that offer comprehensive coaching programs have a 218% higher profits per worker than organizations that don’t. They also have a 24% higher income margin than those who spend less on training.

And while spending part of learning and development (L&D) finances on formalized education packages is a notable idea, there’s a way you can be smart about the use of the talent you already have on your team. In different words, don’t let all of your L&D finances be spent on external resources; leverage the experience you already have, in-house.

Mentoring for L&D

Whereas coaching programs can be brilliant for studying difficult skills, a mentor can help guide self-driven studying and educate the abilities that are not so easily acquired: soft skills. From negotiation and public talking to business enterprise and administration chops, your skilled crew members may be the nice people to impart these to other employees. The L & D budget includes training courses, venue hire, catering, course materials, conference fees, coaching and mentoring and costs associated with design and development of learning programs. In order to leverage these people who are already a part of your company, your enterprise can put into effect a mentoring program cost-effectively for a fraction of your L&D budget.

Why Mentoring?

According to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)’s Learning and Development Survey, coaching and/or mentoring is viewed as one of the most fantastic approaches, as are in house development programs which normally consist of a large teaching element. The survey additionally determined that some examples of situations where coaching/mentoring is a suitable development tool include when it comes to

• Dealing with the impact of change on an individual’s role.

• Supporting an individual’s potential and providing professional support.

• Helping capable technical specialists enhance higher interpersonal skills.

• Handling conflict conditions so that they are resolved effectively.

Mentors are the right connectors

However, it’s vital to observe that coaching/mentoring isn’t suitable for everyone. If an individual lacks self-insight or is resistant to mentoring, for example, it may additionally not be the appropriate intervention.

Therefore, it’s important that companies assess individuals’ readiness for involvement in a mentoring program earlier than they grow to be active participants. Mentees have to not only be equipped and inclined to be mentored, but they need to additionally be stimulated to achieve the desired outcome.

The Benefits

Mentees may go on to meet with their mentor and find a talent they favor to work on, a conference they need to go to, or an introduction to a patron they would possibly deliver on board. This should suggest more developed in-house talent, more exposure for the company, and even new business.

Ultimately, the costs of a formal mentoring program are far outweighed by the rewards.

As organizations and businesses try to work with the changing tempo of enterprise delivered on by way of the COVID-19 pandemic, it might seem like there isn’t much time to devote to professional or leadership development. When considering what matters most amidst changing priorities and altered schedules and budgets, cultivating your team’s professional competencies at first look may additionally show up low in the rankings, in particular when compared to an organization’s on the spot needs.

It turns out, however, that strengthening leadership capabilities and communication in the workplace right now is just as vital as it’s ever been, if no longer more. According to the Association for Talent Development, building appropriate leadership now is key to an enterprise staying strong long-term, especially through challenging situations like the one we’re currently facing.

Leigh Forbes-Harper, senior talent development consultant at UMB Financial Services, says professional development has been imperative for her organization as changing client wants and initiatives have required employees to be flexible and take on new duties as needed. “We have had people who are learning exceptional areas or jumping over to a new project they may no longer have worked with in the past,” Forbes-Harper said. “Some of us can take on extra obligations to make life less complicated for others and increase the scope and depth of what we’re inclined to do. It’s a right possibility to truly dig into the sources that are out there.”

Forbes-Harper says that the most helpful form of professional development for her has been assets related to working remotely. She says she’s taking what she’s learned and developing in-house resources to use within the organization.

“It’s been about going out and listening to the needs, it’s about researching and attending webinars that can assist us increase good and relevant content for our associates.”

Forbes-Harper says that UMB motivates their associates to be responsible for their own expert development, supported by their manager. That includes taking initiative during the work from home period, when a good portion of an associate’s agenda and workload may also be self-motivated.

“We sincerely trust that authentic development rests on the associate, however the manager serves as a conduit, a barrier remover, a coach, a supporter for that accomplice to get that development,” Forbes-Harper said. “The manager is there to help drive the partner and help them understand what’s available to them, what sort of advancement might be available, but that the accomplice owns 80 to 85% of that.”

If you’re searching for methods to encourage your personnel to further their professional training whilst working from home, or you’re searching for possibilities yourself, think about these suggestions:

Take advantage of offered resources- 

Forbes-Harper says that one option she’s been directing UMB associates to is getting to know assets offered to their business enterprise by using consulting companies. “I’ve been forwarding on a lot of emails I’ve gotten from companies who are imparting their content for free,” Forbes-Harper said. “We haven’t had the budget to do some of it in the past, but now we have the opportunity.”

Forbes-Harper says a whole lot of the available content she’s viewed takes existing leadership training and re configures it to account for the current climate. “A lot of it is related to leading through change and leading through crises or working on tasks remotely.”

Seek out experiences that focus on constructing imperative skills- 

During times of crisis, good communication and emotional intelligence are key to maintaining a wholesome team. Essential skills (also called soft skills) assist leaders construct empathy, communicate expectations and capacity, and recognize the personal and professional needs of colleagues and employees.

Schedule time to learn- 

Once you’ve identified the kinds of coaching you’re involved in, create dedicated time in your agenda to pursue it, rather than fitting it in whenever things slow down. Consider how what you’re learning will observe what you’re working on. If it directly impacts a task or leadership opportunity, Forbes-Harper says to think about giving that training extra importance.

Forbes-Harper also suggests checking in with your crew to know ahead of time when your colleagues or employees have their personal coaching planned. “It’s good to recognize your schedule and the schedule of those who work around you,” she said. “We’ve encouraged departments to have regular check-ins, and block their calendars so everyone knows what every other’s availability appears like.”

Many of us are well conscious that personal development both in and out of work is essential for individuals to grow. Unfortunately, the current uncertain business panorama will impact funding in coaching for many employers. In uncertain times it’s often the learning and development budget that’s first to be slashed in cost-controlling measures, but this is a false economy. We have to proceed to learn or we stagnate.

It’s been said many times before, and let’s say it again: people are THE biggest investment any enterprise makes year on year. Just check out your payroll costs as a proportion of income or revenue. Depending on various industry statistics, this is in all likelihood to be between 30-50%. It’s going to be the biggest spend on any single line of your budget and, if it’s hitting 50% it will be a huge task getting a further spend agreed on developing your people. Ironically though, investment in coaching frequently offers a top notch business benefit. By increasing engagement of personnel in supporting and identifying better ways of working, efficiencies will be gained.

Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius had it right when he said: “men exist for each other. Then either improve them, or put up with them”. The message is clear – we either improve our people or inhabit a frustrating world of putting up with less than the standards we require.

Business alignment

So how do we make sure that L&D is not in the firing line as quickly as the business faces financial challenges? By aligning your L&D strategy to the enterprise and making a clear business case for how it will support the strategic plan.

Typical businesses work to a three or five-year plan, so your L&D activities should replicate this, thereby making your plan future-proof. Bear in mind this cycle also fits with the length of most management apprenticeships, so you check if you may want to tap into Apprenticeship Levy funds too.

Build your strategy by identifying the key goals and priorities of the business. Then take the first step in the L&D cycle and identify the knowledge and capabilities gaps that are likely to occur on the road to achieving these goals. With these findings create an L&D road map, putting out training programs that are needed to support the business strategy.

Remember that most business leaders always welcome a cost-saving approach. Therefore, you would possibly like to see what resources you already have in the business that could make a contribution to L&D. Mentoring, involving subject matter specialists and succession planning can all feed into your overall strategy.

L&D practitioners play a critical role in helping the business recognize where the risks and opportunities are going to come from and how you can make sure you have the skilled staff that the business needs to respond successfully to whatever situation lies ahead.

In the modern uncertain business environment there are some practical hazard scenarios that must be considered for the future. Businesses might face monetary challenges for a length of time and would possibly want to make modifications to their workforce. In this case you need to think about the knowledge and skills the business will be losing. Can you replicate these abilities rapidly when matters turn around?Some corporations would possibly have to relocate parts of their operations to other parts of the world. Does your enterprise have the right skills where you need them?
You could consider creating quite a few parallel strategies based totally on exclusive future economic scenarios. In line with these strategies, make sure you’re gearing up for the challenges you might want to face.


Once your L&D road-map has been given green light, begin off by adding a clear shape and countless milestones to it, displaying the outcomes and return on the investment at key points. This will make sure that you’re adhering to the plan and it offers clarity when it comes to measuring results.
You would possibly additionally like to think about making rewards and cognizance sections of the plan. This gives novices something to aim for and it also communicates to the wider business that reaching goals are rewarded.When it comes to evaluating the learning that’s been delivered and looking at the preliminary results, due to the fact that the business wishes have been aligned with the company strategy, your effects will certainly exhibit business impact. At this point, make sure to share some examples with the entire business of how the gaining knowledge has been taking the business forward.


It’s wise to look at the long-term future of the business too. Try to sum up what competencies the business is likely to require to be sustainable with a robust market presence in ten years’ time. This is simpler said than done however, as a staggering 85% of jobs that will exist in 2030 have not been invented yet, however it’s the humans you’re using today who will be key to influencing how work can be performed extra efficiently in the future. Moreover, initiatives such as Made Smarter are supporting employers to harness the energy of technology by way of designing how we will work in the future.
In the wake of the corona-virus, businesses have had to adjust to new social distancing best practices. For many businesses, this has concerned a massive shift from running day by day operations on-site to managing a remote workforce. In light of these current changes, agencies are forging innovative paths around these disruptions, inclusive of taking the larger benefit of E-Learning opportunities for their employees.

For agencies that still need to preserve purposeful coaching packages in the generation of corona-virus, e Learning systems have emerged as a sensible and cost effective solution.

E-Learning as a value-add for your organization

Providing employees a structured possibility to train, grow, and enhance their competencies frequently leads to extended job satisfaction. Investing time and resources in digital assets for employee education and development will help your organization navigate these processes through disruptions to everyday operations due to the corona-virus.

When you make investments in your employees with the aid of providing learning and improvement resources, your organization advantages in many ways:
• 87% of millennial’s say that professional improvement and professional growth are huge to them.
• 57% of employers have multiplied the quantity of formal training furnished in the last couple of years.
• 70% of employees are more likely to remain with a corporation that offers job-related training and development opportunities.
• Companies with engaged personnel outperform those without with the aid of up to 202%.

Leveraging science and training to encourage engagement

Over the years, the landscape of learning has dramatically evolved, and technology has given us the capability to analyze anytime, somewhere from a PC or a mobile device. E-Learning programs have allowed organizations to create meaningful, real-world learning processes for all types of learners to engage with digitally.

There are a variety of learning management systems accessible that offer robust technological know-how and functionality to assist identify specific mastering paths that can uniquely gain your corporation and workforce. These equipment can be custom tailored by industry, role, and business desires to create content that is hyper-specific to your employees, which will assist get them greater engaged in the learning process.
With training tools that incorporate gamification, mobile responsiveness, utilization reporting, social learning, and more, your employees can maximize technology to improve their skillsets, and ultimately, positively impact your bottom line.

Gaining a competitive advantage—for you and your employees.

When you implement these packages and learning opportunities, you equip your personnel with the resources and knowledge they need to enhance their job performance and reap personal boom and development goals. Likewise, when personnel are given the possibility to study job-related capabilities and see that their employer is invested in their professional development, they are more likely to remain loyal to your employer given that they see there is possibility for growth. Getting your employees engaged in an E-Learning software gives them the equipment they need to be better at their jobs, therefore making your business extra aggressive in the marketplace.

From an enterprise perspective, education and employee development can have its challenges—especially in the days since the corona-virus. In these uncertain times, investing in E-Learning technology can be a fundamental aspect to your organization’s success. Not only will your personnel be higher skilled and organized to function their duties more efficiently, but E-Learning platforms can additionally help them become inspired and engaged in their role.

Other suggested Reads: Maximizing Your Learning and Development Budget in 2021

Learning & Development: Time to focus on the ‘build’ rather than ‘buy’ model

Read more at:

Leadership and professional development in uncertain times

Aneesh P V

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