Over two thirds of L&D professionals say training has positive impact on revenue, research finds

Despite potentially increasing the bottom line, half of learning teams are facing budget challenges

Credit: Tom Werner, Victor/Getty Images

Over two thirds (67 per cent) of L&D professionals say the function has a positive impact on revenue, according to new research. 

The Virti 2023 State of Learning and Development report – which surveyed 144 L&D professionals in the UK – found that over half (57 per cent) said despite its impact on revenue, budget was their top challenge. 

Meanwhile two thirds (60 per cent) of professionals said they offer blended training options of live, remote and in-person, and 59 per cent said training could be completed from anywhere. 

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Samantha Mullins, director at Latitude HR, said the demands on L&D to “transform delivery” and align with hybrid working has increased employers' offering of online and flexible training. 

This, according to Mullins, has “created a perception that further investment in training isn’t necessarily needed”.  Companies should be “taking a strategic approach to L&D and ensuring it is properly funded”, she added.

“They (L&D teams) need to focus more purposefully on return on investment to demonstrate the contribution L&D is making to other key company indicators such as, profit, retention, and overall client satisfaction,” said Mullins. 

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The Virti research found top reasons for conducting training were: 

  • To ensure compliance (50 per cent) 

  • Improve employee technical skills (49 per cent) 

  • Support employee career development (39 per cent) 

However, respondents also believed courses that focused on soft skills such as leadership and communication (50 per cent), are the most important.

David Westell, senior HR consultant at People Services, said soft skills are rooted in people’s environment, background, experiences and beliefs – therefore appropriate communication and leadership skills need to be “applied to different people and situations” in order to create an environment of understanding and cohesiveness.

“Soft skills are a vital part of applying emotional intelligence into tangible interactions used to solve problems and manage work,” said Westell. 

“Learning soft skills starts from training and/or coaching which are designed to improve soft skills over time. It starts with the self-awareness from that training and enables us to read situations better, enabling us to be more effective.”

Meanwhile, recent People Management reporting found a lack of investment in building low-level soft skills – such as communication, problem solving and teamwork – is costing £22.2bn a year in the UK. 

The research by social enterprise Skills Builder Partnership in liaison with the CIPD, KPMG and Edge Foundation, found over half (51 per cent) of 2,000 UK workers had “missed out” on essential soft skills building opportunities.

Global talent thought leader Mohamed H. Ameen, said that soft skills is about creating a culture of accountability and performance, which makes organisations that offer such development a “magnet” for high performers. 

Those companies that invest highly in developing soft skills can benefit from four results, he said” 

  • “Attract and retain talent. As a result, employee retention is 20 times greater at companies with a focus on their employees’ skills development.

  • “Increase organisational agility and success in navigating change. When facing an unpredictable business environment, 86 per cent of companies with structured soft-skills development programs are able to respond rapidly, compared with 52 per cent of companies with less mature programs.

  • “Drive strategy execution, creating organisational alignment. Done right, soft skills development unquestionably delivers impact and success in strengthening skills most important to work performance. 

  • “Improve bottom-line financial performance. Superior human capital management is an extremely powerful predictor of an organisation’s ability to outperform its competition. Soft skills development can, and does, power sustained success for organisations around the world — when it’s done the right way.”