The Learning and development (L&D) landscape has undergone seminal changes in recent years. After the pandemic especially, the change has been significant as more organizations moved to remote or hybrid working and newer learning tools were adopted to sustain learning.
However, for a long time, there has been a myth that formal L&D programs are meant only for larger organizations that have an extensive budget to undertake training. Fortunately, the events of the recent past have clearly established that L&D is no longer a nice-to-have, but is a must for any business’s development, irrespective of its size.
Creating a strong learning culture is as vital for the success of Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) as it is for bigger organizations. Offering employees career growth opportunities and providing them with continuous learning are two very important factors that drive employee engagement. As per McKinsey insights, fostering a learning culture is what drives businesses forward. And this is particularly essential for SMBs where flexibility in job roles is a crucial part of business success.
SMBs are the backbone of most economies. As per World Bank estimates, 600 million jobs will be needed by 2030 to absorb the growing global workforce, making SMB development a high priority for most governments around the world.
Given that in a knowledge-based economy, the overall skills and expertise of the workforce play a key role in the organization’s market standing, it is more important than ever that employees are trained well. This is further prevalent in the SMB sector where businesses have similar needs as bigger organizations, but do not have the same level of resources required to fulfill them.
Let’s deep dive into why you definitely need a strong L&D strategy in your organization, especially if you are a small business.
Attracting Top Talent
One major issue that small businesses face is getting good talent onboard because the general inclination is often to look for bigger organizations. Besides, job seekers, these days are spoilt for choice and have greater expectations from their employers. If they do not get what they are looking for, they will easily move to another employer. In this background, SMBs need to explore all possible ways to ensure they appear attractive to the top talent.
Moreover, a lot of the younger job seekers value L&D programs and in fact, are happy if their company is offering it to them. As per the 2021 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report, 76% of Gen Z learners believe learning is the key to a successful career, so marketing good learning programs to them can influence their choices.
Improving Talent Retention
Even though as a small business, you have managed to attract good talent, you may have faced the common problem of losing your best employees to larger companies or other smaller businesses. These days, it’s not enough for people to simply have a stable job. They also want to have the chance to upgrade their knowledge and grow in their career.
Among the many ways to overcome this challenge is to incorporate a robust L&D strategy within the organization. With the help of L&D, smaller businesses can retain good talent by offering them ways to learn new skills and boost the ones they already have. L&D can be a win-win situation for you as well as your employees as they can increase their skillsets and you can lower your turnover.
Boosting Employee Engagement
It’s a known fact that engaged employees are likely to be more productive and have lesser chances of leaving the organization, so it’s necessary to take all steps to increase employee engagement. One of the best ways of boosting employee engagement is by creating L&D programs that focus on employee development.
Employees often view training programs with a positive outlook because they feel their employer is investing in them by taking interest in their development. This makes them feel valued and excited about being a part of the company. In the end, employees who are engaged in organization-wide L&D efforts drive themselves as well as the company towards future success.
Staying Ahead of Disruptions and Competition
Business vagaries and disruptions are a given thing and no company can escape them. However, those like the pandemic that shook almost every small business, showed how important it is to prepare the workforce to face such turbulences.
The pandemic made it imperative for businesses to up their L&D game and for good reason. As remote working and communication became the norm, big as well as small companies had to ensure their workforce is trained enough to handle the new challenges. Strong L&D became the way forward in instilling an organization-wide mindset of learning about new technology, new practices, new operations/workflows, and other things that can increase overall productivity and business performance.
Addressing Skill Gaps
As per a 2021 Gartner HR Research study, 58% of the workforce needs to learn new skills to continue doing their jobs successfully. Besides, the Great Resignation has meant that the talent shortage is at an all-time high and is growing exponentially. For SMBs, one way to deal with this is to invest majorly into reskilling and upskilling their employees to better leverage their existing skills, train them on new techniques and help them embrace emerging digital processes.
Moreover, sustained investment in updating the skills and knowledge of the workforce is especially vital for smaller organizations to achieve success. To nurture a high-performing workforce, SMBs need to commit to long-term training programs and make them a part of the organizational mission.
Maintaining Consistency & Standard
Just like any other business, for every SMB too, staying compliant with regulatory, legal, and statutory requirements is critical. In fact, it is especially important for SMBs because the penalties for failure can be high and they may already be facing a resource/funds crunch. For many, managing and delivering compliance training is extremely burdensome.
Among other aspects, L&D helps manage compliance training and to ensure that the company remains consistent while meeting all the essential regulatory standards. Since compliance training isn’t a one-and-done course, L&D can help make it a continuous part of the corporate learning process by giving it constant attention and ensuring engagement from employees.
Learning and development are no longer limited to just large enterprises. Small and medium-sized businesses to can reap the benefits of these programs by investing in employee training and creating a sense of value among employees.
As the demand for these programs grows across industries, it is important for SMBs to ensure they have strong L&D.