Top 5 Benefits of Learning and Development (L&D) on Employee Mental Well-being

8 Aug ‘23
4 min
Work performance
Editorial Board OpenUp
Gecontroleerd door Psychologist Paul Hessels
Employee Learning and Development
Our world today is filled with instability and uncertainty; and the workplace is no different. In recent years, employees have encountered many challenges, from pandemic upheaval to redundancies to organisational restructuring. With constant change occuring, how can managers and organisations protect employee mental well-being in the workplace? 


Although the answer to this question is multi-faceted, in this article psychologist Paul Hessels explains ​​how Learning and Development (L&D) positively impacts employee well-being.

“Learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change.  And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn. 


Peter Drucker, Austrian-American Management Consultant, Educator, and Author

What is Employee Learning and Development?


Learning and development (L&D) is an HR process that enables employees to upgrade their competencies and thereby strengthen their performance. L&D equips employees with the necessary skills to assume new responsibilities or elevate their work performance within their current role. It involves a range of initiatives, such as training programs, workshops, coaching, mentoring, e-learning, and self-directed learning. 


Why is Employee Learning and Development Crucial in Today’s Workplace? 


Employee learning and development is crucial for the success of both organisations and individuals. From an individual perspective, humans have an inherent desire for growth. In the context of learning and development, this will look different for each individual; some people prioritise professional growth, while others prioritise personal or spiritual growth (in some cases, individuals will focus on all facets of growth). Whatever growth looks like to employees, prioritising the individual’s learning journey is essential for positive outcomes.


From an organisational perspective, there is also a clear winning strategy for companies that invest in developing their employees. Organisations that invest in employee learning and development have been found to have higher employee engagement, retention, and productivity. According to the report ‘The State of L&D in 2022’, 76% of employees say they’re more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training and development. 


Next, let’s delve into the benefits of learning and development on employee mental well-being: 


1. Cultivates team connection and belonging


Learning provides an opportunity to connect with team members and managers. As social beings, connecting is vital for our mental well-being, and even more so after the pandemic. When we learn together, we understand each other better, from each others’ skills to our perspectives and our weaknesses.  


💡Did you know your organisation can enhance employee well-being through shared experiences via our platform Spaces to OpenUp? This includes group sessions to interactively foster mental well-being, masterclasses, and practicing mindfulness in a group.


2. Fosters resilience in times of digital disruption


In a McKinsey Global Survey on future workforce needs, nearly nine in ten executives and managers say their organisations either face skill gaps already or expect gaps to develop within the next five years. To close the skills gap, providing employees with the right tools they need to adapt to changing work environments is critical.


Upskilling programs can help employees adapt to new roles, acquire digital skills, and embrace technology-driven changes.  With the rise of automation and artificial intelligence (AI), the job market is constantly evolving, and jobs that were once in demand may become obsolete. Organisations that invest in upskilling increase employee well-being by empowering individuals to learn, and as a result, become more resilient.  This resiliency can provide employees with a sense of security and reduce anxiety and stress in times of economic uncertainty.


💡Pro tip: You can encourage employees to learn how to  use AI  and develop new skills to enhance their job performance in the future. For example, provide internal training on using ChatGPT safely, offer external courses, or organise an AI working group.

Want to learn more? Visit our blog: AI in The Workplace: How it Impacts Your Organisation and The Well-Being of Your Employees


3. Encourages sustainable employment 


A successful career isn’t all about pay raises and climbing the corporate ladder. Although these factors are part of a career, a career is also a lifelong opportunity for sustainable learning and development. 


By building on employee L&D, organisations are setting employees up for a sustainable career. Ultimately, this provides employees with the security and peace of mind to protect their mental well-being, particularly during times of volatility and economic uncertainty. 


💡Learn more about sustainable employment in our blog: Six steps to a sustainably employed workforce

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4. A greater sense of fulfilment and motivation 


 When employees are offered ample opportunities to learn and grow, they experience a deeper sense of fulfilment. Learning and development programs enable employees to explore their potential, achieve milestones, and contribute meaningfully to the organisation. This sense of fulfilment positively impacts employee mental well-being.


Furthermore, learning and development also ties into motivation. In self-determination theory, the three most important components for motivation are autonomy (feeling in control of your own decisions), relatedness (feeling connected to others) and competence (the ability to master your skills effectively). Learning and development can increase autonomy and relatedness indirectly, and competence directly, increasing overall motivation as a result.


5. Learning and development fosters psychological safety in the workplace


According to research conducted by McKinsey, investing in development across an organisation is an effective method for cultivating behaviours that enhance psychological safety. Employees who report that their organisations invest substantially in learning and development are more likely to also report that their team leaders frequently demonstrate  supportive leadership behaviours. 


🧠Want to learn more about psychological safety in the workplace? Explore our blog: How to Identify Psychological Safety in the Workplace (or a Lack of It)



How to Encourage Employee Learning and Development


Most organisations have a L&D budget for each employee, but often these pots go unused. So, how can you make sure that your employees actually continue to sustainably develop skills throughout their career trajectory? 

 Here are some suggestions:


  • Lead by example: When it comes to encouraging learning and development, HR and management need to ‘’walk the talk’’ and invest in their own growth. Whether this is a leadership course or an individual area of interest, display that L&D is an important part of everyone’s career development. 


  • Prioritise check-ins: It’s important to discuss learning objectives and opportunities through check-ins and feedback sessions, so make sure to schedule these in regularly. 


  • Implement a strengths-based approach: When an employee is unsure of where to begin on their L&D journey, point out their strengths and help them focus on developing what they’re good at.

🧠Want to learn more about motivating your employees? Read our blog: The 4 Basic Principles of Employee Motivation


A Final Note


By investing in employee learning and development, you’ll improve employee skills and create a stronger culture of engagement, personal growth, and well-being. HR professionals and managers play a pivotal role in implementing effective learning and development strategies that contribute to the success and happiness of both employees and the organisation as a whole.


Are you an HR pro or leader looking to team up with other experts and improve mental well-being and other HR challenges in the workplace? Then come and join us at our HR Roundtables to exchange ideas and explore best practices for supporting mental well-being at work.

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