L&D roles are not easy, especially in today’s AI-driven, post-pandemic era. Individuals must develop new skills to remain relevant and advance their careers while balancing flexibility and fulfillment. L&D leaders are tasked with answering employees’ calls for growth and purpose while grappling with the urgent challenge of future-proofing their organizations. Organizations are being forced to reexamine workforce models, strategies, values, and culture, giving L&D departments a new mandate to facilitate transformation. On top of these challenges, L&D is often not seen as a business partner whose efforts directly contribute to the bottom line, and some executives aren’t convinced of its benefits.
We are facing another uncertain economic climate, in which “do more with less” has become an incessant refrain. Business leaders face new and increasingly difficult challenges as they strive to grow their organizations and increase profits. Those of us who have been in the learning space for more than a few years aren’t surprised to hear about resource cuts—and we also know from past experience that cutting back on L&D is a short term salve with long term consequences.
How can learning leaders position themselves as strategic contributors who are equipped to help the company overcome these new challenges? By demonstrating that ongoing investment in L&D is a top business priority.
L&D is a business priority
Until robots take over the world, people will always need learning and development—businesses need change, people change roles and responsibilities, and infrequently used skills plateau or dip. For an organization to be successful, its people must continually learn and grow, or they’ll become stagnant and obsolete. As leaders, we can hope that they learn what they need to make our business successful, or we can invest in them through L&D initiatives.
Here are three questions I ask leaders who aren’t convinced that L&D is a business priority:
- What needs to happen within your business for it to thrive and grow?
- What actions do your people need to take to make that happen?
- How do you ensure people have the skills to complete those actions successfully?
Asking about the business goals and linking them to the actions, behaviors, and skills required to accomplish them, paints a clear picture of how people impact the business and why their development is integral to its success.
How do employees refine their skills and build new ones? Through L&D initiatives that are designed for engagement and action, deployed in an environment that equips people to succeed. When an organization has effective L&D practices, it can build a workforce capable of delivering on its goals.
Why should the C-suite care about L&D?
Regardless of the business objectives or strategy, people play an important role in moving the organization forward. And more often than not, they need help in the form of learning, or development. L&D not only can have a transformative impact on output immediately, but also serves to lay a foundation for achieving long-term objectives.
Here are some of the many reasons why L&D is so important:
- L&D programs equip employees to improve their individual performance, which has a direct impact on business performance.
- Improving employees’ skills, knowledge, and motivation increases productivity.
- Training demonstrates an investment in employees, which is something that top talent seeks from their employers. In fact, LinkedIn’s 2022 Workplace Learning Report found that “opportunities to learn and grow” was ranked as the top driver of great workforce culture.
- Training and engagement go hand in hand, and are closely linked to retention and driving business results.
- An effective L&D strategy and a strong reputation for developing employees also make your brand more appealing to top talent.
Some tactics to help learning leaders win over the C-suite
- Read the room: Every L&D initiative should be aligned with the overall business strategy. You can take this a step further by learning about members of the C-suite’s passion projects and personal priorities and indicating how L&D can contribute to those too.
- Focus on what matters: The C-suite doesn’t have time to listen to lots of background information. They need to be able to grasp your ideas and understand the benefits quickly to make a decision.
- Don’t neglect the bottom line: Demonstrate how learning contributes to the bottom line. Blueline has created a return on learning investment (ROLI) template to help you demonstrate the business impact of past expenditures and make the case for future investment.
- Make yourself known: Learning can become a visible C-suite priority and gain prominence in the boardroom when you consciously and consistently communicate your plans, challenges, and wins. Involving executives in learning initiatives from the beginning means they’re more likely to be invested and keep your initiatives top of mind.
Still struggling to prove the value of learning to the C-suite?
Blueline has also created a resource on Building the Business Case for Immersive Learning. This free guide gives you a template to build the business case for learning initiatives, shows you how to demonstrate return on learning investment (ROLI), and helps you learn how to gain buy-in from employees and executives.
Are you struggling to prove the value of learning to CEOs and executives? Download our free guide!
- Build the business case for immersive learning
- Demonstrate return on learning investment (ROLI)
- Gain buy-in from employees and executives for your learning and development initiatives
It’s your job to create your organization’s vision, and it’s our job to help turn that vision into a blueprint for success.