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Most market watchers predict a recovery from mid-2020 onwards as trade tensions between the US and China are expected to ease, with many expecting a deal to be inked between the two largest economies in the world in early 2020. However, while the global outlook is generally positive, organisations such as the International Monetary Fund have also identified more “significant downside risks” than usual; events that could negatively affect the global markets in a big way should they occur. ForeignPolicy.com similarly observed in their analysis that all the wildcards that 2020 currently presents the market with, all point to potentially adverse effects.

This is where a sound learning & development (L&D) strategy should come in; it is the quickest, most cost-efficient and most effective way to ensure that your business remains a high-performing one!

Here are 3 reasons why planning and executing an updated learning & development strategy should be your business’ top priority moving into 2020 and beyond.

Learning & Development Builds Resilience

Resilient companies are those that are flexible enough to respond to external market shifts that they otherwise have little direct control over. The most resilient corporations are not those that are able to predict what’s going to happen 100% of the time; they are those whose people are able to address such changes immediately, thoroughly and objectively, without compromising on their long-term strategic goals.

Going into 2020, where opportunity for growth is accompanied by dangerous risks, resilience is paramount.

This generally means that companies should prepare their employees for a pick-up in business demand while also strengthening their capacity to withstand and manage change in the longer-term, to minimise any impact from possible disruptions in the market.

The right L&D strategy will employ multi-pronged approaches to help equip employees with the right skills and cultivate the right attitude to thrive in an ambiguous and challenging business environment. With the right employee development policies in place and the right initiatives being implemented, your talents will be better equipped to manage increased demand and better prepared for bumps along the way.

If there is such a thing as the right time for companies to stop talking about resilience and start implementing measures to build it within their businesses, now is it.

Employees Stay for Learning & Development

With downturns in several sectors last year, some companies have had to make tough calls to ensure the short-term viability of their businesses, which includes letting staff go. Other companies have had to put a freeze on hiring while others have scaled back on benefits and bonuses, among other cost-cutting measures.

This has the counterintuitive effect of making the remaining employees, those valuable enough to still keep their positions, turn a sharper eye on other employment opportunities available, just in case they are the next to go. The fact that these are often the most high-potential and capable employees who are likely able to thrive elsewhere makes it even more imperative that measures are in place to retain and groom them.

Moreover, the remaining employees often end up having to recalibrate their workloads to compensate for the sudden decrease in manpower; they often experience longer hours, increased work volume, and end up juggling more projects, which can sharply heighten stress levels. This contributes to poor health, more medical leaves, lower office morale, and an overall downgrade of employee engagement and experience, which tend to increase turnover rates.

A rigorous and structured L&D strategy is among the most cost-efficient and effective ways to mitigate these adverse effects and aid in employee retention. According to multiple studies, high-potential employees put learning and development right at the top of their priorities and they are much more likely, by a significant margin, to stay with employers who demonstrate a keen interest in their growth and development, especially through uncertain economic conditions.

Employers who maintain or even embark on new L&D initiatives also demonstrate to their employees that their business are secure in their long-term agendas and prospects. In turn, employees will feel less jittery about their own futures and become much more invested in their daily work.

Successfully retaining high-performing employees may also result in other intangible benefits such as better investor confidence and may even boost your brand as an employer.

Sharpen Your Edge Over Competitors

Companies that invest in their employees through tough market conditions are always going to be in a better position once the pendulum swings back; many companies who resorted to cutting back on L&D during a recession often find their teams ill-prepared to ride the wave back to recovery. Instead, find themselves needing to re-hire or re-train because the capacity of their current employees for work is limited or has stagnated. Considering the amount of time needed to hire and train employees, considerable resources end up being diverted away from high-value work.

On the other hand, companies with employees who are well-equipped will be able to best ride the wave to recovery when it comes. They are the ones who will be able to edge out less agile competitors and grow their business as the market rebounds. Having been able to retrain their employees during a slump in business, these corporations have been able to maximise the time and resources available to them and make the current market circumstances work for them.

Repeated studies of the most resilient companies have shown that forward-looking businesses sustain their edge over their competitors by taking a strategic, hands-on approach to developing their talent pool; only with well-trained people and well-developed teams are they able to consistently deliver results.

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Among high growth companies and leading multi-national corporations, installing and sustaining a robust learning & development strategy has always been a top priority. This is especially so in an era where skills and book-smarts have much shorter shelf-lives and where digital, knowledge-based economies demand dynamic, highly adaptive talent pools.

The Learning & Development function is now the cornerstone of talent retention and recruitment, employee motivation and engagement, and developing new skillsets never seen before in past decades. This ensures a reliable pipeline of senior executives and capable leaders for companies to draw from in the future and often determines the successful transition of an outdated business model to a future-ready one.

Only by prioritising Learning & Development will companies be able to gear up for success in 2020 and beyond.

References:

https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/12/31/global-economy-2020-outlook-positive-china-debt-trade-growth/-

https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/WEO/Issues/2019/10/01/world-economic-outlook-october-2019

https://www.income.com.sg/blog/market-outlook-2020

About the Contributor:

Hidhir Razak is the Corporate Relations Manager of PEPWorldwide Asia. An ardent believer of the power of storytelling and its unique ability to bring people and communities together, Hidhir is a reader, writer, and researcher by training. His articles have appeared on The Middle Ground, Yahoo Singapore, and Poetry.sg while his creative works have appeared in numerous anthologies and collections in Singapore. He holds a Master of Arts degree from Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, where he specialised in English and Creative Writing

Executive Editor:

Angeline V. Teo is the President and Chief Consultant of PEPWorldwide (Asia) Pte. Ltd. She is also an International Speaker, certified Master PEP Consultant, Executive Coach and Author. Above all, she is a caring Mother of two, a loving Wife, filial Daughter and avid Spa and Vacation addict!