Training is a strategic business tool. Repeat after me, Training is a strategic business tool. I am sure this is something that the vast majority of Human Resources and Training Professionals believe, but it is not something that is actually practiced by the vast majority. It has become more of a reasonable assumption in most organizations rather than a provable thing.
But is this actually a reasonable assumption?
A McKinsey Quarterly report in 2015 that found only 8% of organizations actually evaluate the value of Learning and Development. The report showed that the vast majority of companies do not go any further than asking for post course feedback from the participants of the training program they attended.
It should be no real surprise then that come budget time, Training and Human Resources or HR have been and remain at a back of queue when the plaudits and budgets are handed out. Post Program Happy Sheets are hardly the compelling argument the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is looking for to support a greater degree of funding or an understanding as to where to invest in the future. Most HR and Training departments make it exceptionally easy, when tough times come, for this to be the very first budget to be slashed, or cut completely.
A couple of years back these perceived gaps were illustrated in a discussion with the Board of Directors of a company I was advising at the time. There was a discussion on planning when their CFO was heard to say, ‘Until now this Division (HR/Training) only seems to trade in doubt and uncertainty.’ A little harsh perhaps, but if the people who allocate the budgets feel as if there are simply too many intangibles, then they may feel they have a point.
I strongly believe from my experience that the vast majority of senior executives and leaders understand that developing the skills, knowledge and ability of the workforce is a good thing. That providing a reasonable allocation of resources to that end, is more likely than not to reap rewards. But if they are unable to see some definitive indications that the money being spent is actually having the desired effect, there will be limits to their overall generosity.
That is all that really matters. Remember, and this seems to get forgotten at times, the primary function of all businesses is to make money. If any part of the business cannot prove that they actively and positively contribute to that goal, then they are seen as a liability and are effectively under scrutiny and underfunded. HR, Training, Learning and Development as a result have been the poor relations of the corporate world since it all began.
So who exactly is to blame for all of this? We all are.