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L&D is the new firecracker for COVID recovery

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2020 was a big year for learning and development. In the year of - brace for the nation’s favourite phase - unprecedented change, L&D was catapulted from to the top of the agenda, with countless businesses transitioning to remote working.

While some organisations hit the ground running, others took longer to adjust to the digital day-to-day. Training staff to use remote systems, making sure everyone had the right equipment, making sure staff were assigned the right access and permissions, supporting managers to lead teams over Zoom, etc. etc. There was a whole lot to consider. After all, not every company was equipped for such a big change which happened almost overnight.

We had to adjust, and adjust we did. But as we shift our focus to recovering from this pandemic, learning and development will become more valuable than simply helping us adapt to the ‘new normal’.

This year, L&D means reskilling and upskilling your people to ensure they have the knowledge they need to help your organisation not only recover, but thrive.

Once pushed back to the “we’ll get to it” list for many businesses, reskilling and upskilling are now more likely to be a saving grace. Because over the course of one of the most challenging years in living memory, thousands of organisations around the country found themselves in the awful position of having to make redundancies.

It’s something no business owner wants to or ever sees themselves doing, but for many over the past 12 months, it’s been the only option that has allowed them to stay afloat. And while it may have saved the sinking ship, it’s also left it without a crew. Okay, enough with the boat analogies.

In all seriousness, this is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for businesses right now - having huge skills gaps, potentially across the board, without the budget available to fill them with new staff. Have you taken the time to analyse the varying ages and skill sets within your organisation? Have you taken the time to assess how your business and your workforce has changed? COVID-19 has affected different generations in different ways. Your workforce could look very different now compared to 12 months ago, and you might not have the knowledge and experience that you need internally.

The answer? You’ve guessed it - reskilling and upskilling. Developing the talent you already have. Supporting team members in taking on more responsibility. Maximising the potential of your current employees to meet the ever-changing needs of your business.

Business leaders must now view learning and development as much-needed investment, rather than an unnecessary expense. Because not only is this approach actually much cheaper than hiring new talent, it’s also a huge driver of employee engagement and retention. Your workforce will feel more motivated if they see a clear path for growth in their career.

You look after your people, giving them opportunities to develop and rewarding the steps they take, and in turn, with greater knowledge and a greater commitment to your business, your people look after you too.

What’s on your L&D agenda for the year ahead? Are you addressing skills gaps within your own organisation? I’d love to connect and hear how you’re tackling L&D in 2021. You can find me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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