By Claudine Kapel
In today’s rapidly changing business environment, access to relevant and timely training is critical.
But many organizations are struggling with how best to address the ever-evolving need for employee development. And some feel human resources as a function is falling short in its efforts to deliver.
In a recent survey conducted by global talent management firm Lumesse, 40 per cent of HR leaders said they are unable to deliver the training needed to ensure their employees have the right skills and knowledge, both for today and the future.
Lumesse notes that HR’s training woes aren’t surprising given the struggling global economy and the pace of technological change. “It represents a considerable challenge – HR professionals are having to deal with rapidly changing circumstances, while at the same time often coping with reduced learning budgets.”
The survey, covering the perspectives 769 HR leaders from 24 countries, found respondents gave themselves low marks for how training has been managed. Only 10 per cent of respondents felt HR is seen as “extremely useful” by employees with respect to support for skill development. In fact, more than 22 per cent felt their employees don’t see them as useful partners in developing the right skills to succeed.
Further, 40 per cent of respondents felt employees would not seek help from HR if they needed to develop new knowledge or skills quickly. And more than half felt HR is not delivering on its full potential in providing employees with the right training and knowledge for their roles – with that figure rising to 60 per cent for large enterprises.
Yet at the same time, the need for training has never been greater: 80 per cent of respondents agreed employees today have to learn more and learn faster to succeed in their roles than they did five years ago.
And the training challenges are having a marked effect on employees. The survey respondents indicated 32 per cent of their employees feel insecure in their jobs because their skills and knowledge are not up-to-date.
While the survey results offer a gloomy report card on the state of training today, the findings suggest what may really be needed is some new thinking on how employee development is managed and delivered.
It is unrealistic to think human resources on its own can fully address every aspect and nuance of employee development, especially in these times of rapid change.
Human resources can and should drive the employee development agenda and define related priorities to respond to organizational needs and address skill gaps. It should also establish the infrastructure for training delivery, including a relevant curriculum to support leadership and employee development.
But what is also needed is a well-integrated partnership model encompassing all the key stakeholders who can help facilitate learning and growth, while also identifying emerging skill requirements. These may include leaders, managers, technical and subject matter experts, process experts and power-users – as well as employees themselves who should be encouraged to play an active role in their own development.
The key is to find better ways to connect those needing new knowledge or skills with those who can offer the insights required. Technology and funding considerations are also part of the equation for ensuring employees can access the right training when they need it.
Access to training and development is a vital component – and central commitment – in many employment propositions or total rewards offerings. But without a well-orchestrated and sustainable means of delivery, there is a risk that it will become an empty promise, to the detriment of employees and organizations alike.
Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates Inc., a Toronto-based human resources and communications consulting firm specializing in the design and implementation of compensation and total rewards programs. For more information, visit www.kapelandassociates.com.