Four minutes. That’s how long it takes to read two or three pages of a book. It’s also how long the average employee says they have each day to dedicate to workplace learning. Employers say they offer more time at about one hour of training per employee per week. Whether it’s 20 minutes or 60 minutes – that’s the reality of how little time out of the working week is being spent on learning and development – and customers.

We say customers because it’s no coincidence that the organisations that have permanent residence on CX leader lists are also more likely to invest in the continuous learning, development and training of their people.

The L&D challenges that businesses face were amplified and accelerated by the pandemic. But both inside and outside of a crisis, businesses with a robust strategy are able to rapidly evolve skills and capabilities to meet current, and emerging customer needs. They are able to react to developments in their industry with agility and speed. And, as a bank like Permanent TSB proved during the pandemic, with the health and safety of colleagues of paramount priority, they are able to quickly adapt to continue with training (read more about the bank’s award-winning story here).

Crunching the numbers

The realities of Covid, the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution, a productivity crisis, skills gaps, the increasing importance of soft skills, and the demands of a nimble workforce looking for more than just a competitive salary all mean that L&D can no longer be viewed as a discretionary cost or a nice-to-have. A strong learning culture is critical to CX leadership, organisational transformation and growth, employee recruitment and retention and closing the chronic skills gap.

So what do the numbers say about this and the future direction of L&D investment and strategic influence?

There is strong link between L&D investment and CX leadership

1. 39% of CX leaders invest in specialised face-to-face training for a job compared with 27% of all other organisations. Meanwhile, 30% of leaders invest in specialised face-to-face training that contributes to a wider understanding of business concepts compared with 20% of other mainstream organisations (Econsultancy)

2. 35% of CX leaders provide specialised on-demand training vs 28% of mainstream organisations. There is also a significant gap when it comes to offering on-demand training for understanding wider business concepts – 27% of leaders vs 20% of mainstream organisations (Econsultancy)

Driving organisational growth

3. 66% of L&D professionals now agree that they are focused on rebuilding and reshaping their organisation and 63% agree that L&D has secured its seat at the C-suite table (LinkedIn)

4. Achieving growth targets is the top organisational priority for businesses at 27%, followed by improving CX at 25% and increasing productivity, improving culture and reducing costs at 24% (CIPD)

5. Improving people management capabilities is the top people priority for 22% of organisations, followed by improving staff retention and improving employee motivation / behaviour– both at 20% (CIPD)

L&D is a vital recruitment and retention tool

6. 59% of millennials say that development opportunities are very important when deciding whether to apply for a role (Lorman)

7. Organisations that invest in employee development report 11% greater profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees (Gallup)

8. 30% of employees say they have not received formal workplace training in the past five years. About one in ten employees say they have never received any formal training (City & Guilds Group)

9. Nearly 50% of managers with ten years’ experience say that they have received less than one hour of training for each year served (Lorman)

Helping organisations address persistent / chronic skills gaps

10. Pre-Covid, 1.25 million employees were considered not fully proficient at their roles (Department for Education)

11. Over the next three years half of all employers say they will be in need additional industry or job-specific skills (City & Guilds Group)

12. Upskilling and reskilling programmes are a top priority for 59% of L&D professionals as they adapt to workplace changes (leadership and management comes next at 53% and virtual on-boarding takes third spot at 33%) (LinkedIn)

13. 29% of employers say they will need basic digital and computer literacy, 22% will need advanced digital skills and 24% will need data handling and analysis skills (City & Guilds Group)

14. It’s estimated that about 14% of the global workforce are by 2030 expected to change occupation due to advances in AI, automation and robots (McKinsey)

Taking action

Businesses now get that they need to invest in their biggest asset – their people. The tide is turning on L&D underinvestment and it’s taking on a must-have strategic role. Taking action, proving the value of the investment and keeping a seat at the C-suite table will require new thinking and a fresh strategic approach. Here are six critical lessons to help your organisation rebuild and reshape your learning-led future.

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