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Is there a right time for companies to invest in professional development?

#TLDR: When we are facing people and talent shortage, it is easy to justify investing in professional development, but how about times when there is a long line of applicants at our doors?

As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold and #greatresignation started, it was natural for many companies to focus on how to #engage their employees so they can #grow, #thrive and #stay in these uncertain times.

Back in 2008, the great financial meltdown hit many companies for many years in terms of difficult markets. However, the labor supply was better (The US unemployment rate was hovering above 6%). Hence, companies were heavily into cost control. One of the debates that I remember was around whether to spend money on Learning & Development, especially as there was an abundant labor supply.

I had to fight hard to keep the L&D budgets intact for my teams, but it also helped me to think and reflect on the whys. Our brains are wired for short-term results (that's why we have those sugar and fat cravings!) and cutting costs is an immediate, and tangible result. Investing in L&D lacks such immediacy and visibility of results, hence, it was easier for my colleagues to request cost reduction than to ask for purposeful L&D spending in those times of change.

My approach was to stress the value of the existing employee base in terms of their experience (which was useful to think outside the box and arrive at innovative solutions impacting the top line and the bottom line) and also to highlight the cost of hiring new employees (hiring and onboarding costs). With our own internal benchmarks, I could show that investing in our people in terms of professional development paid for itself (and some more!). Thus, I believe that investing in your people is a steady, long-term game and not an opportunistic spend driven by market conditions.

Now with #recession or soft-landing on the horizon, we are in a similar situation (and this time around, not just in terms of money, but also in terms of how much of employees' time is allowed to be spent on L&D activities).

What change are you seeing at your workplace? What kind of L&D activities is being prioritized? How does it impact you and your team? Post your opinions and responses! We love to hear from you...

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