Why Learning Within Your Organization is Important
With the end of the Great Recession has come a dramatic increase in spending on Corporate Learning. The improved economic environment has made resources available for training and professional development for employees at all levels of the organization. Paired with the availability and quality of self-paced online learning, there are huge opportunities today to improve performance through Corporate Learning.
Training junior employees with specific job-related skills has always been a key strategy for organizations. The return on investment is obvious as these jobs cannot be performed correctly without specific training. Additionally, training can often be done with internal resources to minimize costs.
Professional development is another story. Why should an organization use resources on outside training to help employees obtain widely applicable skills that can transfer to future jobs? Here are five reasons why professional development is essential for your organization.
- Profit margins are at risk. Inside all organizations are wastes and inefficiencies. Internal training reinforces currently understood best practices, but may not encourage creative answers to chronic problems that organizations have learned to live with. It is the difference between maintaining current standards of performance and achieving new levels of quality, financial performance, and customer satisfaction. Developing more of the team to think critically about root problems dramatically accelerates improvement.
- Too much data but not enough information. Most organizations now enjoy multiple databases constantly tracking processes and performance. It is essential for employees to have understanding of why accurate data is important and how it can be used. Without this level of data proficiency, organizations will have silos where some employees maintain the databases, some collect the data and others generate reports. Analytical skills, like those mastered through lean six sigma certification, will create multiple levels of data analysts and problem solvers. Without solid analytical skills, people are susceptible to finding patterns in random chance, further entrenching the biases that created chronic problems.
- Formal organizational development provides a common language for improvement. Many companies use a strategic deployment process to convert vision and goals into specific projects designed to realize a specific goal. Using professional development to implement a consistent set of process improvement tools provides a clear communication path for employees from different functions. The combination of common purpose with common language creates the kind of teamwork that leads to breakthrough solutions for chronic problems.
- Breakthrough improvement requires projects and teamwork. To gain and maintain an edge on the competition, organizations need breakthrough improvement, as opposed to incremental gains. Dr. Joseph Juran noted that “All improvement takes place project by project….and in no other way.” Through structured professional development, organizations can assign key resources to solve chronic problems using proven project management methodologies, statistical tools, and controls to maintain new levels of performance. Tying skills development with projects aligned to strategic direction allows for optimal ROI for development expenditures.
- Career development and advancement improves employee retention. Salary, career development and workplace culture are frequently cited as the keys to employee satisfaction. Today’s workforce knows that their formal education is necessary to enter the workforce, but not sufficient for career advancement. With the advance of online resources, employees will certainly seek their own skills accumulation. The organization will benefit from these skills, but will not have the tie to strategic vision or the increase in employee retention that a corporate learning program fosters.
These are just five of the many reasons for organizations to structure professional development through a structured performance improvement program. The breakthrough performance gained from a shared vision and enhanced skills is a victory for the company, the employee, and the customer.