HOW TO LEVERAGE HUMAN CAPITAL IN THE NEW ECONOMY
By Christine Reyes
Within the next six months, top performers – in particular – will be polishing up their resumes and looking for work environments that will help them develop their skills and careers in exchange for increased productivity and engagement. During the economic downturn workers were asked to perform at a higher level and take on more responsibilities in slimmed down organizations, leaving many workplaces laden with burned out and disengaged employees.
To add to the challenge, recent research by the Society for Human Resource Management indicates that 67 percent of employers are increasing their expectations of employee productivity in the next year. Workers need a reprieve.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Here’s the good news: People are the most versatile and easily leveraged resource in an organization. To keep the top performers, investing in employee development adds a direct benefit to an organization’s bottom line. Management’s mindset has shifted from, “send them to training” to, “let’s improve performance in the most cost effective way we can.” The significance of this paradigm shift can’t be overstated.
Training programs offer a menu of options tailored to particular job functions. For example, large-scale training initiatives may have a foundation of in-class learning that applies to all job functions in a company. Customized layers of learning can be added, such as online learning modules with embedded testing, job-specific sub-groups, mobile learning applications or on-the-job work assignments. Organizations are able to also integrate post-class online reinforcement tools, webinars, newsletters, email news blasts, even social networking for online discussions, and of course, peer-to-peer assist, mentoring, and coaching on-the-job. All of these innovations ensure that organizations are able to expect and achieve a new level of return on their training investment.
Choosing the Right Partner
Companies that foster a long-term partnership with their training vendor will enjoy the benefits of consistency, quality and conscientious follow-through on the programs provided, versus the disappointing results that can result from using the patchwork approach to engaging training vendors.
While price is one of the most important criteria, the lowest priced vendor is not necessarily the best choice. Consider it can cost organizations much more in money, engagement and productivity to do the re-work of an unsatisfactory learning program. The flip side of this truism is a high-priced company does not necessarily equate to quality. Here are a few of the key questions leaders should ask when considering prospective training vendors:
Does This Training Provider Fully Understand Our Objectives?
The onus for this consideration is equally weighted between the company and the prospective vendor. A close partnership gives the training vendor the opportunity to fully understand the needs of the organization and provide the most successful learning solutions.
How Easily Can The Provider Customize the Standard Courses They Offer to Meet Our Specific Needs?
Some training companies specialize in customized learning solutions, whereas others may offer a library of courses, or are able to provide a combination of these two options. Be sure to ask about customization and scalability and how those issues may affect overall costs.
Can They Provide An Experienced Curriculum Design Team?
The quality and innovation the curriculum design team brings to the table is at the core of an effective learning program, regardless of the subject area. Consider whether the proposed training vendor is able to offer learning programs that address the needs of your organization’s business strategy and its employees.
Summing It All Up
In essence, many companies decreased or abandoned training and development entirely during the economic downturn, adding to the tensions of a workforce that was already stretched to its limits. Now organizations have the opportunity to not only reinstate employee development, but do it with innovative methods that result in a higher return on investment, both financially and from a learning perspective. An additional benefit is that there is still time for learning and development programs to halt the flight of top performers and keep them, their experience, skills and organizational knowledge working to grow the company.
Christine Reyes is President and Chief Learning Officer at SAVI Learning, Dallas. Prior to launching SAVI Learning nine years ago, Ms. Reyes helped create learning programs for American Airlines for 19 years.
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