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Sustainable development: How to make your learning more sustainable 

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sustainable development

Sustainability is a word that is thrown around frequently these days and increasingly so in the business world. Many organisations around the world are making changes to their business models to meet the three pillars of sustainability: environmental sustainability, social sustainability, and economic sustainability. By diversifying the workforce, implementing recycling programs and making budget decisions based on long-term growth, organisations are already making choices that benefit a sustainable future. However, many of these organisations are ignoring a single factor that, through making small changes, can have one of the largest impacts on an organisation’s sustainability: employee development.

 From environmental benefits, to social aspects, to economic savings, eLearning is the most sustainable way to develop your employees and secure a successful future.  

eLearning is environmentally sustainable 

Going digital and cutting down on classroom-based training is a great way to lower an organisation’s environmental impact in a number of ways. So many that one could even think of eLearning as “Green Learning. Face-to-face training often requires either bringing a lecturer to employees, transporting employees to the lecturer or, in many cases, both. This kind of transportation requires a significant amount of fuel and C02 emissions, most of which can be avoided when an organisation uses eLearning for the majority of its training.  

Then, of course, there is all that paper to think about. Printing physical learning materials, handouts, and feedback forms alone causes a company’s carbon footprint to grow dramatically, not to mention the environmental impact caused by the distribution and shipping of said materials.  

eLearning is socially sustainable  

For many reasons such as physical and learning disabilities, exclusively providing development opportunities through classroom training is neither the most effective nor the most inclusive way for organisations to train their staff. eLearning’s extreme mobility combined with the fact many digital learning platforms offer both audio and visual learning materials means that every employee, regardless of skill level, position experience or physical ability can access opportunities to promote their growth and development from anywhere at any time and at their own pace.    

On top of the increased accessibility that comes with eLearning, many digital learning solutions provide training in areas that promote equality, wellbeing and a positive workplace culture. eLearning platforms such as offer training in areas such as managing diversity, mindfulness and mental health, building bridges across cultural differences, communication and reducing discrimination.  

Check out our eBook Managing Diversity for free for a limited time.

eLearning is economically sustainable  

Economic sustainability refers to practices that support long-term economic growth without negatively impacting social, environmental, and cultural aspects of an organisation. We have already discussed the environmental benefits of digital learning, as well as its positive impact on workplace culture. However, as many L&D professionals are all too aware, a tight or shrinking budget for learning has become the norm in most organisations. Because it is often seen as a luxury rather than a necessity, it can be difficult for learning professionals to convince budget holders of the importance of L&D. However, with eLearning, being short on expenses does not have to result in a lack of learning within a company.  Not only will organisations cut down on venue charges, travel costs and instructor fees but the flexibility and mobility of digital learning means that employees do not have to spend significant portions of time training outside of the office. Something that, according to a report by the Centre of Economic and Business Research, is expected to cost the UK economy an average of £21bn annually by 2020 (1). In short, not only is eLearning cost-effective to start with, with bite-sized, mobile content, employees will experience a faster turnaround on skills, securing a ROI and using their new skills to generate more profit for the organisation.  

Learn how to get more learning out of your L&D budget

Implementing a digital learning platform is not only a step to a more sustainable future for the planet, for employees and for a bottom line but is also an investment in the long-term growth of an organisation. By using eLearning to develop employees in line with the three pillars of sustainability, organisations actually work towards building a fourth pillar: the sustainability of their business. 

For the handbook on the future of the industry check out our eBook, ABC of Sustainable Development, free for a limited time.