It’s a cycle. If corporate learning initiatives are nonexistent or underfunded, then employees are untrained to do their jobs. If they aren’t confident in their jobs, they are more likely to leave.
The “State of the Global Nation” — a recent Softscape study of 250 human resources professionals, practitioners and C-suite executives — found that organizations are struggling to prepare their workforces.
A startling 94 percent of this year’s respondents believe their employees are not adequately primed to meet future goals. Along with talent acquisition, productivity and performance, development plays a big part in that. As a result, 76 percent of the respondents said that learning and development is a top priority for executive management teams.
Companies are realizing they need to better understand organizational skill gaps, but many lack an effective means of housing an overall skills inventory.
“A company [needs] to say, ‘This individual, this team or this business unit has gaps [in skills] that we need to improve in order to be more effective and prepare for future goals,’” said Christopher Faust, executive vice president of global strategy at Softscape, a provider of Web-based human capital management software. “I think that’s the ‘a-ha’ that HR professionals are getting right now.”
That’s where performance-driven learning initiatives come in: where organizations can tailor learning to specific skill gaps.
“I’ve lived through the e-learning days when e-learning was the greatest thing,” said Faust, who is also the report’s author. “It was truly training for training’s sake, and that’s where chief learning officers today are recognizing, ‘Gosh, I’ve got to put the horse before the cart.’ It needs to be the performance goals or gaps that need to lead [the development].”
Corporations should do employee performance assessments to identify skill gaps. Then learning and development should be an offshoot of those lapses that, if done correctly, will improve employee performance.
“How do you know there’s a [skills] gap?” Faust said. “Well, it’s got to be based on not just where you are but where you should be. How do you define where you should be? Well, where you should be needs to be a very clear assessment of [your] job profile, what’s required of you as an individual to be successful at this job. And that needs to be completely aligned with what the company needs as a whole.”
But many organizations are struggling to link development with performance. According to the study, 45 percent of respondents successfully implemented processes that link performance and development, while 44 percent have been unsuccessful.
So now corporations are beginning to invest in HR technology to streamline these processes.
“Process first, technology second,” Faust said. “The technology can really help move the whole process. It’s a workflow of connected information, and you’re moving people through a process. Process one might be planning who do I need to hire, and process two might be whether I can hire them internally or externally. Once they’re hired, I’ve got to on-board them. Once they’re on-boarded, then I’ve got to align them to the organization. That’s what we’re talking about.
“There is nothing easy about this. You’re talking about implementing a new process across a large, multinational, global organization. It could be a dozen different countries, a dozen different languages. Trying to create consistent processes around large global organizations is a challenge in and of itself.”