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Transforming your business can be challenging, and with the mounting pressures of digital transformation, education may get pushed to one side. However, investing in education is an essential part of business transformation – and it could have a positive knock-on effect on your organisation. 


Digital is already transforming businesses  – and the trend will continue to rise into 2020 and beyond. 

According to Strategic Systems International in Medium, the dawn of 5G, edge computing, AI data generation, and multi-cloud adoption will dictate how businesses innovate and harness growth in the next phase of the digital age.

As these opportunities for business transformation arise, we need to be able to tap into an educated and informed workforce to embed these changes at all levels.

As Circus Street’s Co-Founder and President, Jonny Townsend, argues: education is an essential part in unlocking business transformation. Here’s why.


When times are changing, education is vital

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.

“You need to recognise that these changes are impacting your business now,” notes Jonny Townsend.

However, this poses a challenge for our senior leaders: How can businesses remain competitive, appealing and relevant within their space, while also creating an environment that allows workers at all levels to grow, and fully leverage the opportunities of business transformation?

Well, 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 education is key.

This leaves our HR and L&D functions with an extremely important role: fighting the case for an organisation-wide focus on education during business transformation.


What do you have to lose?

If our senior leaders ignore the importance of training and education in the workplace, you risk stifling your business’ ability to fully integrate and implement change.

Recently, Gallup found that more than 70% of American workers are either “not engaged” or “actively disengaged” in their workplace. 

With this in mind, it’s surprising to see that, according to the Harvard Business Review, a whopping 70% of business leaders feel that they lack the skills to create a “culture of knowledge, sharing and continuous learning” within their business. Karl Mehta, CEO of EdCast comments that  innovation and creativity are being suffocated by a lack of “stimulating and relevant” education.

In fact, only 61% of workers said their employers are providing upskilling opportunities in the skills of the future. 

This indicates that business leaders, while prioritising the economic importance of digital business transformation, are not fully embracing the need to create a culture of embedded learning and development as a means to this end.

But why should our employers invest in education, learning and development, when there is a plethora of other factors to contend with? Well, the evidence is compelling.


Millennials want more than a job and a salary

At its very core, a business needs an empowered and engaged workforce to function properly – especially during periods of transformation. It follows then that a disengaged workforce is costly, ineffective and counterproductive.

According to The Engagement Institute disengaged employees cost organisations between $450 and $550 billion a year.

To respond to this threat, and retain an engaged workforce, education is key.  Never has this been more important than when looking at our increasingly millennial workforce.

By 2020, millennials will compromise 35% of the global workforce, representing a marked growth in their presence and representation. And as we know, millennials’ motivations regarding work are completely different from previous generations. Their hopes and aspirations pose a new challenge for businesses trying to recruit and retain the best talent. So, we need a different approach to keep them engaged at work. 

According to Forbes, multiple factors – including a strong professional/personal balance, access to remote working and leadership transparency – influence a millennial worker’s decision to commit to a business.

Yet consistently, education and development ranks highly, as millennials look to prioritise  learning and growth opportunities in their professions. A 2011 PwC report found that millennials value opportunities to learn over money and desire “active learning and collaborations”.

Seeing workplaces as part of a wider career and professional development, it’s no coincidence that millennials, according to LinkedIn, are 50% more likely to change jobs than non-millennials.

This presents a clear ultimatum to business leaders in creating a sustainable workforce. To reduce staff churn and increase efficiency within a business transformation, you must create a continuous learning program that attracts and retains the best talent from our diverse and dynamic workforce.


Education can turbo-boost performance

Education and learning is also the key that unlocks a systemic change in approach and attitudes within business looking to transform in the digital age – signifying a marked improvement in performance.

“The big moment for an organization”, according to Ian Rogers, Chief Digital Officer at LVMH, “is when they have embraced the fact that transformation isn’t a technical issue, but a cultural change.”

The Digital Marketing Institute highlights that while it’s important to gear your business towards the technical changes that business transformation brings, to fully embrace business transformation, companies must move towards a culture that is geared towards communication, collaboration and development. 

Education 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.                                                           

Our own Jonny Townsend argues that education 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.”

It’s clear that in times of change, education facilitates both better conversations and better outcomes and is essential to successful business transformation. 


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

To unlock the benefits of upskilling, HR and learning and development teams can find a plan that suits their business needs with a free trial.

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