Tuesday 15 January 2013

Learning & Development: Facts, Figures & Findings

Part 2 of 7 of the CompetencyCoreTM Guide to Learning & Development 
The amount of money spent on learning and development world-wide is astounding. In the US alone in 2010, expenditures for training, including payroll and spending on external products and services, were $52.8 billion. It is important, therefore, to ensure that the best value is being obtained, and that HR and Training professionals can demonstrate in substantive terms the impact on corporate productivity and profitability.

In a recent study by Aberdeen (2012), the analyst noted that “Organizations are faced with two parallel tracks driving their learning efforts. To deliver knowledge that will improve performance today, and build capability that will ensure performance tomorrow.” Having a common language to evaluate and develop new employees is critical to learning and performance management success. Competencies play a significant role for these organizations, with 67% indicating that their competency models are integrated with their learning and development initiatives, and 61% integrating competencies with performance management. These organizations also look to a combination of job role specific competencies and organizational competencies grounded in company values when selecting and evaluating new employees.

A shortage of key skills in the external market was the number one pressure identified in Aberdeen’s September 2012, Talent Acquisition study (cited by 55% of respondents). Organizations know that if they cannot “buy” talent in the external marketplace, and if they wish to remain competitive, they must develop their talent from within.

Some of the pressures being addressed through learning include:
  • changes to product, process or strategy, requiring re-education and re-alignment of the organization - 45%
  • lack of key skills in the marketplace requires development from within – 40%
Interestingly, of the organizations surveyed (Aberdeen, 2012), 32% indicated they extend learning to parties outside the organization - to customers, partners, resellers or some combination. The main reasons are to:
  • Improve product knowledge (54%)
  • Improve satisfaction with products / services (43%)
  • Generate revenue from learning programs (30%)
  • Increase brand awareness (24%)
competency-based learning and developmentThe trend among top performers is to not only focus on understanding and supporting business needs, but also to adopt innovative ways of delivering on those goals. Best-in-Class organizations have gone beyond linking learning to business goals. They are differentiating themselves in the following ways:
  • 31% more likely to adopt new learning delivery modalities to support diverse learning styles;
  • 41% more likely to identify subject matter experts to capture and transfer their expertise; and,
  • 129% more likely to focus on extending learning outside the enterprise to customers and / or channel partners
In terms of learning modalities, top performing organizations use blended learning approach (67%), have formal on-the job training (82%) and have formal coaching (74%). The study indicated that top performing organizations “seem to focus on more on ‘in the moment’, contextualizing learning experiences” as compared with their lower performing counterparts, noting that this type of reinforcement is critical for ensuring learning effectiveness.

Best-in-Class organizations are also differentiating themselves in the adoption of some emerging technologies, layering additional technology to help support their learning programs. They are:
  • 93% more likely to have social learning as part of their formal learning strategy;
  • 94% more likely to leverage user created video content; and,
  • 119% more likely to utilize mobile learning solutions.
In terms of setting the stage for successful Learning and Development programs, Aberdeen (2012) noted that “Improving organizational performance requires developing a mindset and culture of ongoing learning and performance management, in addition to the adoption of the appropriate supporting tools and technologies to support learning throughout the organization for learners, no matter where they reside.” The study found that:
  • 78% of Best-in-Class organizations have visible senior leadership support for learning and development
  • 71% of Best-in-Class organizations assess individuals to identify gaps in required job role skills or knowledge.
The study also noted (Aberdeen, 2012) that higher success in delivering learning programs that have an impact on organizational performance results from taking a holistic view of learning, as well as organizational commitment to creating a high-performance culture. By a two-to-one margin, Best-in-Class organizations not only demonstrate the impact of learning on overall organization performance and profitability, they validate that impact through data.

In terms of defining learning needs, top performing organizations bring together customer, manager and employee insights to deliver performance results. Eighty percent (89%) of Best-in-Class organizations incorporate customer feedback, or customer trend information, to set learning priorities, and are 23% more likely than others to do so. The lesson is that learning leaders should spend more time with customers and customer service and sales leaders, as well as monitor social media in establishing learning needs and in designing programs.

The study underscores the requirement for a good Competency Framework as the foundational building block for high impact Learning and Development initiatives, noting that Best-in-Class organizations are 39% more likely that all other organizations to have organizational competencies defined (75% vs. 54%)

Technology plays a role in Learning and development by helping organizations manage performance on an individual level, which translates into performance results on an organizational level:
  • Organizations with performance management solutions are 48% more likely than all other organizations to have performance goals in place that are agreed to by managers and employees (89% vs. 60%):
  • Organizations with a Learning Management System (LMS) in place are 28% more likely to have development plans in place and agreed to by managers and employees (82% vs. 64%) - having those plans in place was the number one most cited capabilities among Best-in-Class;
  • Organizations with an LMS indicated that on average, 74% of employees achieve ratings of “exceeds expectations” or higher on their last performance review, as compared with just 55% of employee at organizations without one;
  • Organizations with automated performance management solutions in place saw 7% year-over-year growth in revenue per FTE, as compared to 4% year-over-year growth for organizations without such solutions
However, while technology facilitates communication between managers and employees, technology alone is not the entire answer. To ensure that Learning is having the desired impact, 42% of Best-in-Class organizations evaluate impact at least twice a year as part of their performance management review and discussions, and 24% do this on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Aberdeen Article:
Lombardie, M. (2012). Learning and performance: Developing for business results. Aberdeen Group Inc. http://www.aberdeen.com/

The next blog in this series examines how competencies support Learning & Development. Sign up to our blog’s mailing list through the form on the right-hand side to receive the rest of the series in your inbox.

HRSG is a leader in competency-based learning and development solutions and training. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Want to learn more? Competency-based Talent Management, or CbTM, is the best practice for defining job requirements and building effective HR programs to develop skilled, engaged and productive workforces. Download this Best Practice Guide to learn how competencies can increase workforce effectiveness and improve business practices.

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