What To Prioritize With A Limited L&D Budget

    Learn about the importance of prioritizing learning initiatives and how to optimize available resources to deliver tangible benefits for your organization's L&D strategy.
    user-circle Credly Team
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    L&D manager strategizing the learning roadmap

    A LinkedIn report shows that 87% of L&D leaders agree learning and development (L&D) contributed to organizational change. Although most organizations know that continuous learning and professional development are critical to sustained growth, L&D leaders often have to cope with limited budgets.

    Recent surveys of HR and L&D professionals back the commonality of budget woes:

    Resource constraints can handicap efforts to scale successful programs, customize learning opportunities and fund staff to manage and deliver training.

    Business growth can also strain resources. Take, for example, Choice Hotels’ Choice University, which has recently seen sharp increases in learning requests. “We feel the pressure to do more with less … to meet the business’s growing needs,” wrote Jeneane Becker, dean of Choice University.

    Regardless of the reason for resource limitations, delivering a payoff from learning is imperative for a business. To remain relevant, organizations must understand the need to prioritize initiatives and ways that make the most of available resources

    Why Should You Prioritize Learning

    Companies with a culture of continuous learning outperform their peers in essential ways: innovation, productivity, speed-to-market, profitability, and employee engagement and retention.

    Continuous learning empowers employees by equipping them with new and stronger skills, and giving them new perspectives, which lead to higher performance. Pearson's research indicates that 92% of workers felt more confident in their abilities after participating in credential programs, for example.

    In addition, most employees – as many as 87% – expect their employers to invest in their learning. Responding to this expectation with a clear commitment to professional growth boosts retention and recruitment. In a recent survey of 2,000 UK employees, 52% said they’ve left jobs due to a lack of L&D opportunities. And, despite its value, 48% said they hadn’t received any training in the last 12 months. For more than 90% of job candidates, training is the tiebreaker when choosing between two employers.

    Beyond considerations for individual workers, prioritizing learning boosts a company's bottom line. For example, the total cost to hire a new employee can be three to four times the position’s salary, but effective upskilling and reskilling programs encourage internal mobility, saving companies thousands in hiring costs.

    Plus, L&D initiatives offer comprehensive benefits that extend to the broader business outcomes. According to McKinsey, 71-90% of organizations say that skill transformations help them execute company strategy, increase employee performance and satisfaction, and enhance a company's reputation as an employer.

    A well-executed L&D program can also deliver tangible financial benefits. A prime example is Pearson’s successful implementation of dynamic learning opportunities across its global sales teams. Motivated by the chance to upskill and the allure of digital credentials, the teams reported a $14.5 million return on investment (ROI) on the initiative.

    What to Prioritize and How

    So, how do strong learning programs produce these kinds of outstanding results? How can you maximize the impact of your L&D budget? When resources are limited, consider focusing on the following areas to ensure the most effective allocation.

    1. High-impact learning opportunities

      To preserve budgets during evaluations, prioritize programs that deliver tangible results and drive business outcomes. Identify critical skill gaps and focus on training, workshops or projects that directly address those gaps and the related business challenges.

    2. Blended learning opportunities

      Combine different learning modalities – such as in-person training, online courses, virtual classrooms, webinars and self-paced learning resources – to increase impact and broaden reach across employees’ various learning styles and preferences.

      58% of employees -– prefer to learn at their own pace and “on demand,” according to McKinsey. Its research suggests multichannel learning approaches are the most effective. This includes a combination of virtual options that offer scalability and flexibility, while retaining in-person training for certain topics. In a survey of companies undergoing skilling transformations, the most popular modalities included:

    3. Essential skills and future trends

      Identify and prioritize both technical and soft skills required for current and future job roles. Stay updated on emerging trends and technologies to focus training on skills that will help employees adapt to changing demands.

      Place special attention on soft skills. Pearson research shows that the top five skills projected to be most in demand and need greater investments are all human skills: collaboration, achievement focus, customer focus, cultural and social intelligence, and personal learning and mastery.

    4. Verifiable skills

      Prioritize verifiable skills to clearly understand employees' actual skills and overall workforce capabilities. This ensures that decisions, training programs, and workforce planning are rooted in reliable data, leading to better talent management.

      Relying solely on inferred skills can lead to ineffective workforce training and development. Only 39% of employees strongly agree that they fully understand their own skills, much less the skills of coworkers. Focusing on subjective assessments can leave companies with misidentified or invisible skill gaps, leading to resources being directed to the wrong learning programs.

      Digital badges, on the other hand, allow employees to showcase their verified skills and achievements with detailed metadata. They can proudly display these badges on professional platforms or share them within the company, providing tangible proof of their expertise and accomplishments. Increased employee engagement will lead to higher productivity and retention.

      In addition, by prioritizing verified skills over inferred skills, organizations can build a more accurate and complete picture of their skills inventory. This ensures that decision-making processes, training initiatives, and workforce planning efforts are based on reliable data, leading to more effective talent management and organizational success.

    Fueling Growth in a Resource-Constrained Environment

    By strategically allocating resources and focusing on these key areas, L&D professionals can maximize the impact of their limited budgets and ensure their organizations continue to thrive in a rapidly changing marketplace.

    Digital badges from platforms like Credly help turbo-charge the process, with rich metadata about verifiable skills, acknowledgement of success to motivate learning, and analytics to measure performance and ROI.

    To learn more about how credentialing programs can drive and demonstrate ROI, complete the form below to download our whitepaper ' How to Maximize Your Employee Skills Training Budget and ROI' below. 

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