Learning And Development Is The New Corporate Profit Center

What’s the largest profit center for any business?

People. They deliver clients, knowledge, sales, inspiration, and a passion that can only be nurtured. For this reason, learning and development departments are pivotal to the success of any business and arguably their biggest profit center.

As we emerge from the pandemic and find our new normal, this is a perfect time to focus on our people and making sure the development we give them gets the results we desire.

Working Remotely? Or Remotely Working?

Let’s forget we’re living in 2021 for a moment — I know, that’s what we’re all trying to do — and step back what seems like a century ago to 2019. Remote work is on the rise. It’s estimated that by 2025 70% of the workforce will be working remotely in some fashion. (Remember, it’s 2019). Also, 99% of workers who go remote say they would like to stay remote — at least part-time — for the rest of their careers.

Now, let’s return to 2021 and throw a global pandemic into the mix. Everyone is sent home, Zoom is synonymous with virtual meetings and some of the stalwarts of businesses are fleeing the center of office work — Manhattan. That projection of 70% of the workforce working remotely by 2025 has just come true.

Remote work can bring a sense of isolation. As much as our pets or children are nice office mates, they don’t exactly increase productivity. Investing in the learning and development of our precious living room warriors is critical. According to one estimate, companies could save $11,000 per worker annually when working remotely.

What if, and I know this is a crazy thought, we took those “remote” savings and reinvested them right back into our greatest profit center? Before we go about this investment, however, we need to ask ourselves, what are we trying to accomplish and how will we measure our success?

KPI For Learning And Development Professionals 

I encourage learning and development professionals to create a checklist of KPIs prior to designing their training. This not only helps define a goal but provides tangible metrics to measure against. The following nine items are all critical in driving company success. How has training:

1. Increased engagement

2. Improved knowledge

3. Reduced attrition

4. Increased productivity

5. Improved quality

6. Reduced cost

7. Enhanced customer satisfaction

8. Increased revenue growth

9. Increased market share

Improving Talent Through The Power Of Play

Over the past several years, IT Cosmetics, a client of The Game Agency, has expanded rapidly. In an effort to maintain the company’s growth, their vice president of education needed to improve the knowledge of their reps across retailers, increase rep excitement about their product portfolio and keep the brand top of mind when interacting with consumers. Their VP set out to do so by creating an interactive training program as engaging as Instagram and as addictive as Candy Crush. Delivering a gamified socialized training solution, the company was able to engage new and veteran retail sales associates worldwide, stand apart from other products on the marketplace, and keep their brand fresh, fun, and top of mind, resulting in increased sales.

Enhancing Delivery Through Video Roleplay

Recently, Paychex, a provider of human resource, payroll, and benefits outsourcing services, found that its salesforce turnover was increasing and its revenue was falling behind so they partnered with Rehearsal, a video-based practice and coaching platform, and set out to completely revamp their sales onboarding process.

Through their partnership, Paychex was able to develop a 10-week onboarding program that includes, among other features, self-paced e-learning modules, a virtual learning coach and video roleplaying assignments. The video roleplaying modules took their training from passive to active and encouraged employees to demonstrate what they learned and solicit feedback from their coach.

As a result of making these changes, Paychex achieved an 8% lift in employee retention and a 10% increase in business revenue compared to the same timeframe for the previous instructor-led program. The company attributes these improvements to not only confidence but competence, achieved by video roleplaying. 79% of employees surveyed said the virtual coaching and video roleplaying experiences were “Very Good” to “Excellent.”

Increasing Satisfaction Through Virtual Simulations

Dale Carnegie is famous for saying “an amazed customer is a loyal customer.” If you can enhance customer satisfaction, those customers can bring in new customers, drive revenue growth and, in turn, increase market share. In other words, attract, engage, delight and let the process repeat itself.

Now more than ever before, companies are under pressure to improve employee “soft skills” for both customer service and managerial duties. Given the expenses associated with in-person training, virtual reality is quickly becoming a go-to solution.

The learner experience is often magical inside the headset with their brains being transported to another place through complete immersion. When learners put on a VR headset, they can look around, see and hear a virtual world practically identical to real life.

Recently, Verizon implemented a virtual reality course to train call center employees on de-escalating conversations with upset customers. Learners participate in increasingly tense conversations and are challenged to practice active listening and speaking skills. According to Verizon, virtual reality training has increased the consistency and effectiveness of their training and has reduced employee training time from 10 hours to 30 minutes per employee.

Final Thoughts

Remote work is here to stay and employee training as we knew it just a few years ago must evolve as a result. L&D professionals who utilize the KPI checklist outlined in this article will most certainly engage employees, improve performance, drive business results, and be recognized as the new corporate rainmakers.

First Published for Forbes Human Resources Council by The Game Agency’s Head of Creative Strategy & Innovation Stephen Baer as a member of Forbes Human Resources Council Member

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