Making The Case For L&D During A Recession

Making The Case For L&D During A Recession
Summary: Many businesses are rethinking their strategies and budgets as a result of the current recession brought on by COVID-19. But L&D programs shouldn’t be on the chopping block. Here’s why.

4 Reasons To Make Your Case For L&D During A Recession

Although recessions are considered a natural part of the economy, when they strike business leaders are often set back on their heels. While there may be contingency plans in place for a failed or unfeasible strategy, it can be hard to predict the size and scope of a recession—which industries will be most impacted, how long it will last, or what the unemployment toll will be. We’ve now experienced two recessions within the past 15 years and each time, as with prior downturns, organizations must re-strategize in order to absorb inevitable business impacts and emerge as unscathed as possible. And strategy drives priority—what needs to be accomplished to meet company goals determines which resources will be prioritized and which will be cut, at least temporarily. As an L&D leader, it can be easy to defer to traditional functional business resources when a recession hits. However, economic downturns present a golden opportunity for enhancing and prioritizing your L&D programs. Here are 4  reasons to make your case for L&D during a recession.

1. Continuous Talent Development Drives Continuous Success

Due to social distancing restrictions necessitated by COVID-19, traditional classroom learning simply isn't possible. But, regardless of the learning environment, a recession doesn’t mean your attention to developing talent should fall by the wayside.

According to Work Institute, a top reason millennials cite for leaving a job[1] is lack of career development. When companies do implement thorough training programs, they experience a 218% increase in income per employee and 24% higher profit margins[2] than organizations with less formalized or no talent development programs. As an L&D leader, the business case for maintaining, if not growing, training resources is clear: An ongoing focus on and commitment to employee development will help retain your top performers and boost their success. In today’s challenging environment, development programs will pay even greater dividends in setting employees up to thrive when the economy regains its footing, putting your organization in the best position possible to maximize results.

2. eLearning Programs Are More Effective And Cost-Efficient Than Ever

As an L&D leader, you’ve inevitably gotten pushback when making the case for expanded resources, there’s just no room in the budget or employees don’t have the time to invest in training. This excuse stems from a misunderstanding of how eLearning has evolved in recent years.

Today’s training outsourcing providers arm you with agile teams and cutting-edge technology that deliver highly effective programs at cost-efficient prices.

“We equip all of our clients with a dynamic team that includes a project manager, senior developer, Instructional Designer, and quality assurance specialist who can quickly and collaboratively adapt to clients’ platforms, capabilities, and needs,” says Kristie DeLoreto, VP of custom learning solutions, design and delivery at CoreAxis Consulting. “That agile team is highly skilled and familiar with today’s rapidly evolving technological modalities so they can pinpoint the most effective solutions for each individual organization.”

Among those evolving modalities are Augmented Reality[3], Virtual Reality[4], gamification[5], and business simulations. Studies have shown that these technologies increase knowledge retention and applicability, while also reducing training time and expenses. A Yale University study found that Virtual Reality enabled medical residents to perform surgeries 29% faster and six times more error-free[6], and Farmers Insurance predicted a $300,000 savings in training travel expenses after implementing a fully-remote gamified learning course.

Your organization might be reducing certain expenses, but the results you stand to gain by implementing today’s highly-effective, cutting-edge eLearning technologies can come at a cost that won’t break the bank. With the right training outsourcing partner, you’ll quickly have an effective program up and running so you can start seeing results as soon as possible.

3. Being Busy Increases Productivity

It may sound counterintuitive, but according to the American Psychological Association[7], being busy makes people more productive, motivated, and faster at completing tasks. In “normal” times, it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to complete projects—between commuting, hallway conversations, and a host of other distractions, focus can easily get diverted. Many people assumed these distractions were even more pronounced in a work-from-home setting.

Yet, as the workforce largely transitioned to remote work due to COVID-19, employee productivity accelerated[8]. Without those small, but constant, interruptions, people were able to complete tasks faster and more efficiently. So, if you’re finding that business in general has slowed or that employees have more bandwidth thanks to increased productivity, L&D programs are a seamless way to fill the gaps, keep your workforce busy, and maintain motivation and productivity.

Now is the time to lean into L&D. With a little extra time on their hands, employees will be more apt to fully engage with a professional development course that presents the opportunity for meaningful career growth once the pandemic has passed, and the business will benefit from their sustained productivity and attention.

4. Investing In Your People Increases Engagement And Strengthens Culture

Not only will employees be better able to engage with L&D program content during this time of remote working and potentially slower business, but that engagement will extend into their daily roles and contribute to overall employee engagement. Why is this important? Because organizations with an engaged workforce outperform less engaged competitors by more than 200%[2]—think of how your company could benefit from that level of productivity and motivation, particularly with employees who are highly skilled thanks to L&D programs.

As an L&D leader, you also hold the key to employee retention, which can contribute to engagement and save time and money that’s lost to turnover and the rehiring process. Millennials, more so than other generations, are likely to leave their jobs, particularly if they don’t see paths for professional growth. Half of millennials anticipate leaving their jobs[9] within a year, but 87% say access to growth and development opportunities would be a very important factor[2] in their decision to stay or leave. Consider the time and money it takes to interview, hire, and onboard new talent—the cost of a comprehensive L&D program is certainly less!

Additionally, while people are currently working virtually, and may continue to do so at a higher rate in the future, L&D is a universal medium to establish cultural values throughout the company. Reinforcing values through immersive eLearning platforms contributes to employee engagement, keeps everyone in the organization on the same page and ensures the all-important company culture doesn’t erode just because your teams aren’t physically together. More than ever, L&D can enhance your organization’s talent, engagement, and culture in a remote work environment.

Now Is the Time To Make The Case For L&D Programs

It’s easy for leaders to look at L&D as a nice-to-have when budgets are tight. And in today’s recession, with no definitive end in sight, decision-makers are more cautious than ever. But it’s also clear that as an L&D leader, this is a window of opportunity to make the case for L&D programs. Not only are they more cost-effective and technologically advanced than ever, but they’re one of the best ways to keep your talent engaged, motivated, productive, and highly skilled, even when you can’t gather in the same physical location. To hit the ground running when your organization emerges from the recession now is your time to make the case for L&D.


[1] 35+ Impressive HR Statistics You Need to Know in 2019

[2] Mind-blowing Statistics that Prove the Value of Employee Training and Development




[6] 3 Ways Virtual Reality Training Is Producing Better Outcomes

[7] How being busy can increase motivation and reduce task completion time

[8] Working at home had a positive effect on productivity during the pandemic, survey says

[9] Millennials: The Job-Hopping Generation