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A recent report reveals that budget is the number one barrier to learning effectiveness. Here’s how you can get more budget for L&D programs, and drive real business impact. 

In the UK, the number one barrier to learning effectiveness is lack of budget, according to recent research from compliance learning provider Kineo

While budget constraints pose a serious challenge, the research also reveals that L&D teams face a serious lack of sight of the business strategy. This, perhaps, is even more worrying. 

To start to drive business impact, L&D teams need to understand the business strategy, figure out where learning interventions are required, and gain senior buy-in. 

Last but not least, when you finally succeed in increasing your L&D budget, you need to ensure that it’s used effectively.


Step 1: Understanding the business strategy

For employers, digital transformation (42%) and economic pressures (40%) are the two main drivers for learning in the UK, according to Kineo.

By 2020, the IDC predicts that spending on business transformation initiatives will surpass the $2 trillion mark. This spending milestone reflects a growth in interest as leaders see business transformation as a long-term, must-have investment.

As Circus Street’s Co-Founder and President, Jonny Townsend, argues: education is an essential part in unlocking business transformation. “You need to recognise that these changes are impacting your business now.”

This increased interest in business transformation, in turn, presents an opportunity for L&D leaders to get senior buy-in for learning programs. 


Step 2: Figuring out where learning interventions are required

According to the World Economic Forum, more than half of all employees around the globe will need reskilling by 2022.

As David Willett, Director of The Open University explains, investing in your workforce during this time is non-negotiable and a “crucial part of future-proofing businesses”. In other words, in order to fully embrace business transformation, a top-to-bottom focus on effective learning is key.

HR and L&D need to continue to fight the case for an organisation-wide focus on learning during business transformation. The good news is there are demonstrated advantages to incorporating a strategy of continuous learning during times of change.

Effective learning is essential to successful business transformation. In times of change, effective learning can help facilitate better conversations and better outcomes. Often, it can be the key that unlocks a systemic change in approach and attitudes within businesses looking to transform in the digital age – signifying a marked improvement in performance.


TOP TIP: People want to learn

The report does share some good news: globally, 79% of employees say they want a greater focus on L&D. 

A 2011 PwC report found that millennials value opportunities to learn over money and desire “active learning and collaborations”. By 2020, millennials will compromise 35% of the global workforce – and this expectation for continuous learning will increasingly become the norm.

Consistently, education and development ranks highly, as employees increasingly look to prioritise learning and growth opportunities in their professions.

However, only 27% of UK employees are confident their organisation has taken steps to improve their skill set and employability. And 33% do not agree that their employers are keeping pace with changing skills. 


Step 3: Getting senior buy-in

The research reveals a perception problem between employers and employees, with 81% of employers saying they have the staff they need for the next three to five years. That compares with 71% of employees who say the skills they need to do their job will change in the next three to five years. 

It may not come as a huge surprise to find out that the perception of learning differs. Understanding what motivates your senior leadership may remove that barrier – and help you make the business case for your learning program.

However, if our employers do not commit to education, it has very real consequences for the business. In fact, employees are six times more likely to leave a company within a year if their employers don’t offer opportunities to develop skills, according to research from MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte.

In addition to this, Gallup recently found that more than 70% of American workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their workplace. L&D leaders are already well aware that a disengaged workforce is costly, running up a bill of $450-$550 billion a year, according to The Engagement Institute. This presents a clear ultimatum to business leaders in creating a culture of continuous learning that attracts and retains the best talent.


Step 4: Using your budget effectively

The good news is that, despite the budget challenge, 52% of employers say they will be increasing their L&D budget over the next 12 months. Globally, 68% of employers anticipate a greater spend on L&D in the future.

The challenge is using that increased budget to implement effective learning. And there is a lot of scope to have more impact. 

According to the report from Kineo, just 16% of employees say that the learning they received in the last year was “very effective”. 

Research from the Digital Marketing Institute highlights that, to fully embrace business transformation, companies must move towards a culture that is geared towards communication, collaboration and development. However, interestingly, only 14% of employers in the UK plan to invest in social and collaborative learning.                                                                         

When it’s done right, Circus Street’s Jonny Townsend argues that effective learning can have far-reaching consequences for all aspects of the business. From internal communications to “better working relationships with external agencies”, businesses can create a culture where everyone learns “in the same way, and at the same pace.”

Effective collaborative learning helps businesses nurture talent, create the best performance and, crucially, make sure all stakeholders learn in the same way, speak the same language, and have a collective understanding of its growth. 

But how can you implement large-scale collaborative learning effectively?


Partnering with Circus Street

As a global online learning business, we help organisations navigate the uncertainties of technology-driven future by building their digital capabilities – using effective learning.

We're encouraging global organisations to break down silos, and work together in addressing the digital skills gap. We do this by helping every person in the business to be educated on the key aspects of digital. This, in turn, builds the foundation on which the whole organisation can continue on your journey towards digital transformation.

The whole thing functions on a few different levels:

  1. Developing tools and training: Our aim is to improve digital knowledge at pace and scale, and build capability in a structured way. This approach creates a common digital language, raises the floor of knowledge and delivers learning outcomes that achieve strategic business objectives.

  2. Building high performing teams: We help you build and retain high performing, happy teams, and achieve tangible outcomes quickly and across your entire organisation. From the delivery of better briefs to higher conversion rates and more confident conversations internally and with external partners.

  3. Customised learning and delivery: We work with you to design a programme that aligns with your business goals and delivers tangible benefits. We take the lead in launching, embedding and measuring the success of your programme freeing up your internal resources.

  4. Dedicated account management: We combine this with an account management function that drives adoption, encourages behavioural change and the implementation of new concepts, skills and ideas and then captures the results.

  5. Marketing syllabus written by experts: Our broad syllabus covers the entire scope of digital marketing capabilities and lessons are updated regularly. We combine award-winning animations, interactivity and professional presenters to deliver highly engaging and effective content. 


“We think it’s fantastic, and it’s been just a terrific experience.”

– Jennifer Galichon, Director of Marketing Operations, Unilever North America

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To find out how Circus Street has empowered organisations by building their digital capability, see our testimonials page. Or sign up for a free trial of our lessons to see how we can help drive business transformation in your business.

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