How to Get Your CEO to Increase L&D Budgets

Increase Budget

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Discover how to communicate the value of learning and development in terms of business value—without reducing your people to numbers on a graph.

There’s no question that many organizations are recognizing the benefits of a strong learning culture backed by a reliable Learning Management System—but does that recognition translate into higher budgets for L&D teams?

According to one survey, the answer is: not necessarily. While 93% of respondents acknowledged the need to reskill employees, and around 75% saw the value in training and development as a way to tackle the skills gap, only 29% claimed to be actually investing in that area. 

If you want your CEO to increase your organization’s Learning & Development budget, you’ll need to firmly establish the value of L&D as a business investment. The right approach and the best tools will boost engagement, productivity, and retention among employees who will develop their skills in exciting and lucrative ways.

At the same time, it’s essential not to reduce your prospective learners to figures on a graph or resources to be exploited. Employee development is at its best when it’s achieved through people-first practices that respect learners’ individuality and interests. That’s why you need to frame L&D through the lens of Human Experience Management (HXM), which prioritizes the feelings and attitudes that arise from your people’s work-related experiences. 

By articulating the need for L&D in terms of human experience, you’ll establish a business case for employee development that’s built on helping your learners to thrive.

The Problem With Impersonal Development Programs

If your CEO isn’t convinced that L&D holds much value at all, they might be thinking of the wrong kind of development program.

After all, historically, there have been plenty of approaches to L&D that didn’t deliver meaningful value. Even now, it’s not uncommon for training programs to take the form of a highly standardized course or set of courses that employees are expected to complete irrespective of their personal tastes or current skills.

While this is still necessary—everybody needs to take identical compliance and safety training from time to time—there are plenty of instances in which this cookie-cutter perspective on learning disregards the individual learner. 

If you impose an impersonal development program on your people, you’re not going to see the full benefits of an engaged and upskilled workforce. And if that’s the kind of program your CEO is used to, it’s no wonder they might not leap at the chance to allocate more budget to what is, essentially, a little bit of a chore.

MORE ON EVOLVING APPROACHES TO L&D | ‘Does Your L&D Approach Meet the Needs of Today’s Learner?

Putting People First With Human Experience Management

So, how can L&D be positioned as a strong investment? 

It all boils down to reframing employee development as something that mutually benefits both your organization and your individual employees. That’s the guiding principle of Human Experience Management.

In a world where experiences of everything from workplace technologies to remote working options define employee satisfaction, your approach to learning can contribute to a strong employee experience by meeting the individual needs of your people. 

This doesn’t need to be a complicated process. To get a sense of what your people want to learn, you just need to ask! Employee engagement surveys are a great way to amplify your people’s voices, and the right tool will let you author questions that get to the heart of what your people need from their L&D program in order to thrive.

Some employees might not be able to identify or articulate the form they’d like their learning to take. In this scenario, a good performance management platform can help you out by allowing you to exchange ideas with your people in frequent 1:1 meetings. Your employee isn’t sure about what new skill is right for them? No problem. Why not use an exercise like Bridge Career Drivers to discover what motivates them? Alternatively, you could perform goal-setting tasks within your performance platform and provide learning support that matches their specific career ambitions.

The Return on HXM Investments

For some CEOs, the prospect of an upskilled, constantly developing workforce will be reason enough to increase your L&D budget—but some will take more convincing.

After all, it can be hard to shake the idea that employers should have the final word when it comes to allocating training programs. Some CEOs might even feel that placing learning in the hands of employees won’t generate meaningful or relevant value.

That doesn’t mean your dreams of an enlarged L&D budget will never see the light of day! Providing your employees with the experiences they need to thrive offers great returns on investment in ways that go beyond the specific skills they’re developing—especially when it comes to engagement.

4 Business Cases for Better Employee Engagement

By taking an employee experience-led approach to your learning program, in which your people’s preferences and needs are placed front and center, you’re likely to see an increase in employee engagement. 

Personalized learning journeys may take different forms for different employees, but meeting individual needs will lead to a more engaged workforce—and there are several business cases for better engagement that your CEO will want to hear.

1) Improved Employee Retention

Employee retention has a number of benefits—not least the knowledge each employee accumulates the longer they’re a part of your organization.

By keeping your experienced employees engaged and happy through the kind of development that matters to them, your organization will reap the rewards of their wisdom—and the longer they stay, the more of that valuable wisdom they’ll accrue. 

According to a study in the journal Management Science, employee turnover in manufacturing can be linked to increases in product failure. Meanwhile, Gallup has found that the cost of replacing an employee can be as high has two times the employee’s annual salary. In both cases, there’s clear business value to be found in retaining skilled and knowledgeable workers. 

This kind of value is well worth stressing to a CEO whose hand is still hovering over the ‘budget increase’ button.

INTERESTED IN RETENTION? | ‘5 Ways to Improve Employee Retention Rate in 2022

2) Reduced Employee Churn

As the other side of the ‘retention’ coin, reduced turnover among engaged employees comes with its own set of advantages.

While it might be tricky to quantify the monetary value of an employee’s institutional know-how, it’s not difficult at all to place a price on the turnover process—and it’s not cheap. In fact, the Society for Human Resource Management has found that the recruitment process can average out at $4,700 per new hire—and the Society also points out that total hiring costs are often equal to four times the new hire’s salary.

3) Lower Rates of Employee Absence

Every manager has experienced the inconvenience of absenteeism among their teams—and your CEO will have a better sense of how much absenteeism costs in terms of dollars and cents. In fact, as employee disengagement reaches new heights via trends like quiet quitting, one report estimates that its cost to the global economy is as much as $7.8 trillion.

An engaged workforce will be far less incentivized to skip a day at the office, leaving your organization with huge savings and an uninterrupted stream of increasingly productive inputs from the teams that power it.

4) Increased Productivity

Speaking of productivity, it’s important to note that engaged workers are always going to be more productive than their disengaged counterparts.

Research from the University of Oxford has found that employee happiness increases productivity by 13%—and it goes without saying that an engaged worker is unquestionably a happy one.

Increase L&D Budgets With Bridge

Bridge’s suite of learning and development tools provides everything you need to persuade your CEO to beef up your L&D budget. Our performance management platform helps you to keep employee experience in the spotlight with frequent 1:1 meetings that will help your people define their own learning journeys and kick-start fully personalized training.

Combined with the piercing insights provided by Bridge employee engagement surveys, you’ll be able to identify and enact the development needs of your people. The result? A happy, engaged, and productive workforce who can justify L&D investments to even the most budget-conscious CEOs.


Peter Brussard

Peter Brussard

​​Peter Brussard is a software executive with a long, demonstrable track record of more than 20 years of experience building software, leading teams and scaling revenue, he is currently the President and Managing Director of Bridge. His prior experience includes SVP Technology & Product Management at Instructure, SVP Product & Engineering at Rosetta Stone, and leadership roles at Microsoft and a variety of startups.

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