Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually on corporate training globally, with U.S.-based companies spending well over $160 billion annually. But most managers and employees say they are not getting a good return on this significant investment.
Three out of four managers are dissatisfied with their companies’ Learning and Development programs, according to a survey by the Harvard Business Review. At the same time, 70 percent of employees responded that they do not have the necessary skills to do their jobs.
These statistics may be several years old, but there has been no marked improvement in confidence since they were released. At the same time, a worsening labor shortage has shined a spotlight on enterprise training and training departments’ role in helping companies keep top talent.
Harvard researchers argue for “lean learning” programs, or only teaching what is necessary to the right employees at the right time – something that can only be accomplished with intelligent, tech-enabled training programs that efficiently use time and resources.
But the single-task software point solutions organizations use today to manage and implement training programs are not getting the job done.
The Platform Approach
Data is the lifeblood of business today, and every department of an organization generates it. Training data is arguably among the most valuable information a company has about the operations of its people.
Training data offers a clear picture of any organization’s skills—and skill gaps. Once intelligence, or analytics, is applied to this information, it becomes precious as companies grapple with significant decisions, such as whether to tap a new customer base or establish a presence in a new market. But the technologies that many training departments use only address specific use cases and only yield information around particular metrics. This means valuable data that could be used in C-suite decision-making is left fragmented and siloed away from other company departments.
But training departments can move away from single-task software solutions and embrace a platform approach. But to do so, they must integrate training data with the rest of the organization, seeing in detail how training affects productivity and employee retention.
Going from a patchwork of specific solutions to an intelligent platform is the beginning of reaping a far better return on investment for the time and resources a company devotes to training. But getting better ROI on training also involves using new technologies to ensure that the training department has its house in order and offers efficient, lean learning programs.
Challenges in Training
Training departments—especially at larger companies—face a daunting task. Some departments are responsible for training thousands of people, all with different skill levels and all according to differing requirements. Any inefficiency means wasted time and money, and employee turnover means wasting even more.
And unfortunately, the machine learning technologies and automation that have lightened loads of many corporate departments have not yet reached training.
Lacking platform technologies and optimized scheduling programs, many training departments sit down every fiscal quarter with dozens of company calendars, course calendars, compliance calendars, and instructor availability calendars and do their best. For example, finding time to schedule an introductory safety course means hours of manual work in the hope of scheduling just one training. It means navigating a maze of different calendars using only spreadsheets or—for some departments—a paper-based system to find an appropriate time window. With all the various training offered by a large company, it can mean weeks of frustrating, inefficient work to accomplish a reasonably fundamental goal.
With the importance of training in today’s war for talent, the days of inefficient internal systems in training departments must end. Using a platform approach, disparate datasets should be linked together so that various calendars, resources, and instructors can be analyzed simultaneously and training scheduled in minutes instead of weeks. Tools like these have made life easier for departments that juggle multiple priorities and will one day make life easier in training departments.
Optimizing the scheduling of training courses is just one of the advantages of using a platform approach with training data. Breaking this information loose from the software silos where it resides at most companies and integrating it with finance, HR, and other departments offers a wealth of insights into where an organization is strong and where it needs to improve.
And, equally, as necessary (if not more), with competition for the workforce at a fever pitch, training intelligence can help organizations better know their workers and hold on to them.