The benefits of educating the next generation of leaders

Lack of opportunities is a 'huge stressor' for employees

The benefits of educating the next generation of leaders

Educating the next generation of leaders is a great way to engender engagement and loyalty among the workforce.

An effective learning and development (L&D) regime in an organization has been shown to be highly desired by employees but a new study is showing that without it, the effects can be quite harmful, says one expert.

Having no opportunities to grow and develop is a huge stressor for many employees, says Dan Terner, co-founder and COO at GrowthSpace. “If you look at employees who go back home and they’re stressed at home, many times it’s because their work environment doesn’t support what they feel it should support,” he says.

“They’re not productive, or they are having trouble with their boss or manager. And those are the real issues that are causing stress that then gets taken out at home or exacerbated at home. So, it is a virtuous cycle.”

This points to a need for employers to create “the right growth environment for employees,” says Terner, where they have a path to improving their worker status.

“If you think about it, the key factor that contributes or that hinders employees’ mental health is stress. That stress comes from the workplace. And the majority of that stress is either employees that are in environments where they’re not productive, or they’re not growing sufficiently,” says Terner.

“So, by building a growth trajectory for them, and enabling them to improve in their roles and beyond, employers are actually able to reduce the stress levels for the employees and therefore positively impact their mental well being, and therefore alleviate some of that stress.”

Troubling times ahead

This ongoing stress could be even more affected by the global economic climate of doubt and uncertainty, according to new research cited by LinkedIn.

More than one-third of employers are already considering reducing learning and development budgets and other organizations are also considering reducing the number of employees in flexible and hybrid models. 

These findings come despite jobseekers continuing to seek flexibility, advancement, and upskilling from their employers.

“We can’t go back. Companies that pull back on flexible working, learning, and development risk demotivating their workforce and pushing people to competitors that offer more attractive options,” says Feon Ang, managing director at LinkedIn APAC.

“Motivated employees are key to gaining a competitive advantage, and damaging that is a risk business can’t afford to take, particularly at a time when people are already being weighed down by other worries such as the higher cost of living.”

According to Ang, flexibility and focus on skills are “crucial” to a company’s long-term survival.

“These have traditionally been the first to go when times get tough, but they are important to building diverse and resilient businesses that can adapt to a fast-changing world. Forward-thinking organizations that invest in their people during these times will be the ones that outperform competitors and come out stronger,” Ang said.

Impact on retention

It’s becoming more clear that an employers’ L&D efforts are key to surviving or thriving, according to another study.

Three-quarters (75 per cent) of learners say strong workplace training would have a very high or high impact on their decision to stay with an employer, reports Emergn, a global digital business services firm. And 55 per cent say that L&D programs increase job satisfaction and employee morale.

However, only 23 per cent of learners and 22 per cent of leaders view their organization’s current workplace training as extremely effective, finds its survey of more than 1,200 professionals from the United States and the United Kingdom, conducted in July and August 2022.

“A lot of organizations are used to collecting what we could train our people on… but individuals want to be connected to something, to a mission, to a purpose,” says Steven Angelo-Eadie, head of learning Services. “If you don’t know why [the training is] important, then it will feel like it’s a drain on your time and your energy.”

“Everything you do [in L&D] should be related to the company’s mission. If those don’t connect, you will feel dissatisfied.”

‘Lip service’

Employers would do well to heed these warnings, says Richard Wahlquist, president and CEO of the American Staffing Association (ASA) in Alexandria, VA looking at the results of a recent survey by his organization.

“It’s an absolute reflection of workers understanding that we can no longer give lip service to lifelong learning.”

It found that 80 per cent of U.S. workers consider an employer’s professional development and training offerings an important consideration when accepting a new job.

However, just 39 per cent say their current employer is helping them improve their current skills or gain new skills to do their job better, finds the survey of 2,042 U.S. adults.

These days, workers have choices, says Wahlquist.

“Employers when they’re talking to candidates, candidates are much more interested in getting a sense of fit, alignment with values [and] culture, and then investment in addition to pay. One of the key benefits, as our survey indicated, was this investment in ‘me’ and my professional development,” he says.

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