Learning improves employee wellbeing. Whether it’s targeted at wellbeing programmes, long-term skills training such as degrees and apprenticeships, or chunks of bite-sized training such as microcredentials, they all boost employees’ mental health, leading to positive outcomes for employees and employers.
The Open University (OU) conducted some research in partnership with TrainingZone and membership organisation The 5% Club, looking at how L&D affects employee wellbeing. The result was the report L&D’s role in employee wellbeing.
The OU also recently ran a webinar called Unleashing L&D’s remarkable capacity to boost wellbeing, in which a panel discussed the findings of the report.
For Blaire Palmer, the key takeaway from the report is the finding that all learning has a positive impact on employee mental health.
It’s not surprising that mental health, first aid training, lunchtime meditation and all sorts of other interventions that are intended to support employee wellbeing do support employee wellbeing. But what was remarkable about the research was that L&D activity which isn’t primarily focused on wellbeing, like skills training courses, have a massive positive impact on wellbeing and healthy organisational cultures.Blaire Palmer
Leadership and Culture Specialist, Consultant and Coach, That People Thing Limited
Talking on the webinar, Kris Ambler said being in a learning environment answers people’s psychological needs, with employees citing several benefits: increased confidence and self esteem, a sense of achievement and reward, and increased commitment to their role and employer. Learning also improves brain health, especially among older workers, and reduces sickness absence. And it makes employees feel valued, says Kris Ambler: “It sends out a message – that we care about you. We’re invested in you as an employee and as an individual.”
Dr Una St Ledger also talked about the broader benefits of learning. In particular, she talked about the ABC model – autonomy, belonging and competence, saying that all three are required for employee wellbeing.
Something else that emerged strongly from the research is that training is not just good for employees – it’s good for organisations too. It leads to better skilled workers, improved engagement and retention, as well as the increased benefits around wellbeing and mental health.
But, the report found that L&D budgets are under threat, with mentoring and coaching down by 9.5%, apprenticeships down by 9% and vocational qualifications down by 6.5%.
What I’d like to see is companies seeing their employees as assets and not costs. Because if you feel happy at work, you’ll stay in that workplace.Mark Cameron
CEO, The 5% Club