Why Businesses Must Prioritize Learning And Development Post-Brexit
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Learning And Development Post-Brexit: Reasons Why Businesses Should Act Clever

It is being widely assumed that Brexit will have a considerable effect on the UK, not just in terms of its governance, economy, and trade, but also finance, industries and organizations, and its people’s lives as a whole. Considering the looming certainty of a ‘no-deal’ scenario, many organizations are now in pre-panic mode, which is also evident from the fact that the UK’s present growth rates are plummeting drastically. People of the UK are wishing, hoping and calling for a quick and positive resolution to this situation, which has clearly become a menace of sorts. In light of these changes, it remains to be seen how the UK prepares its people for the change.

Learning and Development (L&D) undoubtedly has the capability to subdue the panic to some extent by helping businesses reassure their employees and thus bring about a smooth transition towards a post-Brexit reality. But, for L&D to function effectively under this kind of uncertainty, organizations must prioritize L&D and align the function to be watchful and prepared.

According to a report by Towards Maturity [1], 94% of the UK’s L&D professionals want to align themselves to react faster to shifting business conditions, but a mere 22% believe they can actually achieve it. And, this is the biggest challenge for L&D professionals and organizations alike. Clearly, there seems to be a vast gap between what L&D professionals need (in terms of tangible resources like higher investments and a better strategy as well as motivational factors like faith and belief in the function) and what organizations are presently providing them with. This must change, and fast! Organizations have to take into account the needs of L&D professionals in order for them to function effectively and better guide the people through a post-Brexit UK landscape.

With a vast array of tools available, like Learning Management Systems (LMSs) that provide multi-device learning, social learning and analytics, and reporting, L&D professionals have enough training resources at their disposal to function effectively. Yet, most of these L&D professionals feel they are unable to respond quickly to the changing business environment. This is a result of a lack of understanding between the organizations and L&D professionals, as well as a rigid business strategy that cannot accommodate the needs of L&D professionals through imminent drastic changes such as Brexit.

However, few successful organizations around the world have overcome these obstacles simply by aligning their L&D function to a responsive business strategy and objectives. And, this is precisely what UK organizations need to do in a post-Brexit climate.

Here are a few things that organizations in the UK should consider to achieve stability through L&D:

1. Leverage Learning Technology & Learning Methodologies

By leveraging learning technology, organizations can help L&D professionals respond swiftly to the changes. Facilitating the flow of information to reach the learners widely via tools like LMSs enables L&D professionals to respond faster to the changing business environments. Another way organizations can achieve stability is by enabling L&D professionals to apply innovative learning approaches. Organizations should look beyond eLearning and consider it as one of a multitude of available options to inform about Brexit-induced changes while building skills and boosting performance within the organization. And it’s also critical that this training be just-in-time, mobile-optimized, bite-sized (microlearning) and personalized (all enabled via an LMS) that directly align with the learners’ work area and overall business goals

2. Consider Upskilling As A MUST

With the increasing possibility of a no-deal Brexit, it is clear that companies in the UK will face tremendous competition in the recruitment and training market. As a precaution, organizations should then align their L&D function to focus on upskilling, and train and retain their current workforce. With the European Union already facing a wider skills gap (especially digital skills). Τhis can be a frightening scenario for the UK without a free movement of employees. Organizations can address this challenge by enabling L&D professionals to analyze the training requirements of the strictly UK-based applicants and use innovative approaches to boost employee productivity.

3. Collaborate, Collaborate And Collaborate

Everything said and done, the key aspect of building a responsive L&D function is to align learning with desired business objectives. According to the report Making an Impact: How L&D Leaders Can Demonstrate Value [2], organizations that have an active and ongoing collaboration between their leaders/managers and the L&D professionals can easily align the L&D function to their business objectives by getting both parties on the same page through the learning process. Unfortunately, too much time and energy are spent in churning training numbers and worrying over budgets, adding more pressure to the L&D function. To assume (rightfully so!) and prepare for a wider negative impact of Brexit, UK organizations should look at moving away from traditional methods for starters and strengthen their L&D functions with more investments in newer approaches, tools, and platforms.

Piers Lea, Chief Strategy Officer, LEO, agrees, saying,

“Reaching a certain stage of maturity myself, I now see watertight business cases being presented to boards for almost everything, apart from learning. With new technologies and processes, there are no longer any excuses.”

Change is constant, whether one likes it or not, and businesses that adapt and create opportunities for themselves will thrive in the future. While organizations spend the next few weeks trying to gauge the consequences of Brexit, they should instead make plans and put strategies in place in order to succeed and explore ways in which L&D could support the business. Predictions aside, an agile and resourceful L&D function can be a key asset to every organization pre or post-Brexit.

References:

[1] Embracing Change: Improving Performance for Business, Individuals and the L&D Team (https://towardsmaturity.org/2015/11/05/embracing-change-improving-performance-benchmark/)

[2] In-Focus: Making an Impact: How L&D Leaders Can Demonstrate Value (2016) (https://towardsmaturity.org/2016/06/13/focus-making-impact-demonstrate-value/)

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