Articles about layoffs and news about an impending recession are everywhere. To make matters worse, training is often one of the first areas cut to reduce costs during a recession. As a result, learning and development (L&D) professionals may wonder if their jobs are on the line.

Feeling nervous during uncertain times is natural, but focusing on what you can control will help you cope. Use these recession-proofing tips to feel confident and in control of your role.

1. Be a problem-solver.

Do you see a problem? Is learning a possible solution? If so, don’t be afraid to speak up. As learning professionals, we understand the importance of L&D for a company’s health and success. Demonstrate your worth by taking advantage of this opportunity.

When it comes to solving organizational problems, follow the “see-something-say-something” rule. Observation is key to this. Suppose you are part of broader workgroups, steering committees, or cross-departmental meetings where key contributors and stakeholders identify problems or brainstorm solutions. You will likely be asked for your thoughts on how to handle each. Make a note of the issues that could be solved through learning.

For example, suppose you are part of a taskforce that meets regularly to discuss trends in quality data. For the past two weeks, scores in a specific category have been dropping. The group suggests that employees don’t fully understand the measures they are assessed on. Thanks to your expertise in learning and development, you’re well-suited to solve this problem. Capitalize on this opportunity to demonstrate how learning can help.

Inexperience or uncertainty can make it difficult to speak up. Despite this, now is not the time to take a back seat. Don’t wait for the business, your manager or key stakeholders to approach you with a need. Be proactive and jump in with an idea, solution or concept.

2. Embrace the unconventional.

Commit to thinking outside-the-box when solving problems with learning. Your organization may view training as an event or a presentation. Now is the time to embrace new approaches that are alternatives to traditional training solutions. Add value to your organization by proactively seeking solutions to common issues. The list below provides some examples.

  • Develop a “huddle guide” for managers to lead training with their teams.
  • Create a playbook for coaches to provide coaching on specific roadblocks.
  • Schedule a lunch and learn for employees who want to learn more about a trending topic or area of the business.
  • Interview some rockstar talents from your organization and ask them to share their tips for success.
  • Develop a series of micro-videos to remediate a concept that the company has observed as a current problem.
  • Create a tips, tricks and networking group in Slack or Microsoft Teams to address a problem or issue.
  • Repurpose pre-used content and create a series of on-demand microlearning on an array of topics .

While there are hundreds of ways to address a problem through learning, being strategic about measuring the intervention’s success is essential.

3. Tie it back to dollars.

How are your learning initiatives generating a return on investment (ROI) for the organization? Your company needs to see the benefit that learning provides-not only from an experience standpoint but also from a cost-savings or money-generating perspective.

Ensure your learning strategies are tied to business goals and objectives. To do this, measure the outcome of your training program. It’s essential to go deeper than just measuring reaction and learning and focus energy on assessing learners’ behavior and results.

Remember that excellent solution the team proposed last week in the quality assurance meeting? Determine how the learning intervention will save the company time, money, or both.

Calculating the ROI on learning demonstrates a strategic, business-aligned focus and showcases your team’s value to the company.

4. Be your own advocate. 
Promoting your work is critical to ensuring that the organization reaps the benefits of learning. While self-promotion may not come naturally for some, now more than ever, your company needs to realize the benefits that you bring to it.

Compile a one-pager that overviews the team’s recent accomplishments. Present the ROI you calculated at the next quality assurance meeting to demonstrate your ability to be strategic and data driven. Make sure to share successes cross-functionally and ensure the organization is aware of your important work.

Don’t wait for the business to approach you when navigating your role during a recession. Instead, jump in, be proactive, and propose solutions early and often. Show the company that you can add value and strategically solve problems through outcome-driven learning initiatives.

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