As learning leaders look ahead to the next year to come, it’s a good time for organizations to reflect on how they can make the organization better for their people. Companies are doubling down on efforts to engage their workforce, which among other things can help reduce attrition and absenteeism, increase productivity and employee health and make work more fulfilling.

It’s understood that employees leave jobs when they don’t see an opportunity for upward mobility. In fact, according to research from Gallup, 48% of American workers would switch to a new job if it offered better skills training opportunities. Despite these findings on workforce satisfaction and the business return on investment (ROI), many companies overlook learning and development (L&D) as a benefit.

Skills of the Future

By 2025, one-half of all employees around the world will require reskilling with a particular demand in evolving fields like health care and technology. Today, many companies require skills that didn’t even exist a decade ago — most notably in areas like sustainability, leading a hybrid workforce and digital transformation. Given the pace of change, the idea of getting a credential and staying in the same career is unrealistic for many. To be effective at their job and gain relevant skills, employees must be reskilled.

A focus on skills development can be transformational for both employees and their employers. In today’s world of work, employees want more freedom to explore how their capabilities can impact both the business and their community at large.

As new skills continue to emerge, employers must identify and provide the time and resources their employees need to learn these new skills and apply them to their current role — or grow into a new role altogether. Companies that offer continuing education can move at the pace of change and offer courses based on what’s going on in the market.

A More Confident and Engaged Workforce

According to Bain & Company, engaged employees are 44% more productive than workers who just feel satisfied — and an employee who feels engaged and inspired is 125% more productive than an unsatisfied worker. The connection between learning and engagement is clear: Learning can help improve employee performance, thus leading to greater confidence, which in turn can lead to new opportunities, better communication and better outcomes.

When done right, the skills that employees learn through continuing education can apply directly to they’re career development. Greater confidence in their skill sets can improve overall satisfaction in the workplace and employee retention.

Continuous Learning and Development

Continuing education programs are vital for both companies and individuals. When employees are more engaged at work, they can become better knowledgeable of ongoing changes in their field.

The skills and tools needed for success today are different than they were five years ago, and employees who take advantage of continuous learning opportunities can set themselves up to become subject matter experts (SMEs). While it may seem daunting to implement a continuous learning program in a large company, the best way to start is by picking a very specific part of the organization where the need for learning is acute.

For example, there can be an opportunity to address gender disparity on technology teams and help women in the company start a path to high-paying software engineering or cybersecurity roles. From there, the company can assess and hone in on the skills they need to improve. And once a company has a few training programs under its belt, it can become easier to replicate learning across different job functions at scale.

As learning leaders strategize for a new year, companies should consider what continuous learning opportunities they want to offer their employees to make the new year the best one yet.