Article contributed by Valerie Boudreau
No doubt if you reflect back on 2019 and early 2020 you’d never imagine where we are today. Budgeting for learning and development over the past few years has been a moving target, to say the least. How do you forecast and try to predict what you’ll need considering how fast things had to move in March 2020 and beyond?
While we’re not able to predict the future, a good planning approach is to look at what happened in 2021. It’s likely the landscape for 2022 may look similar.
The priorities to think about are:
- Upskilling and reskilling employees
- Developing managers, supervisors and leaders
- Virtual learning and other programs
The need to retain current talent and attract new talent lies with the development opportunities your organization provides. Learning and Development is a key part of that opportunity. Prioritizing budget dollars to determine the skill gaps of your current workforce and determining the needs of the workforce for the future is worth its weight in gold. That data enables the L&D function the chance to cater learning plans/activities/support to fill the gaps.
Leadership development, for all levels of leaders (supervisors to C Suite), is vital in the environment that we are in today. The ability to build trust, communicate, give feedback, coach, train, build engagement etc is vital for all levels of leadership in an organization. Ensuring they have the tools through learning opportunities needs to be planned and money allocated so it gets off the ground.
With many organizations shifting to remote and hybrid working, learning and development needs to follow suit. Virtual programs are not just Band-Aids anymore to get us past this “pandemic” environment – they are here to stay. Putting money toward building programs, upgrading and investing in technology including outfitting remote workers needs to be at the forefront of the budgeting process. Also, the L&D area may need additional budget resources for design and development, technology, etc. Virtual programs need to be looked at beyond L&D as well. Virtual orientation, onboarding, IT support and other areas can and should leverage this approach. That may require a further budget investment far beyond what is in place today.
We can’t predict the future but when it comes to budgeting, looking to the bigger priorities and aligning dollars and other resources behind them will position your organization for 2022 and beyond.