Each year Deloitte studies trends in human resource development. This past year, Deloitte asked “…more than 3,300 business and HR leaders from 106 countries” to rate the importance of ten trends and their readiness to deal with these trends. One major conclusion from this 2015 study is:
… more than 8 out of 10 (85 percent) respondents cited learning as “important” or “very important,”—up 21 percent from last year. Yet, in a troubling development, more companies than ever report they are unprepared to meet this challenge. The capability gap between the importance of the issue and the ability to respond grew in magnitude by an enormous 211 percent over the last 12 months (from -9 to -28).
While we should be cautious about over-interpreting this data (true of any survey), the comparison of findings with previous years does suggest that employee learning has become more of a concern to HR leaders and that they believe they are less able to respond to that need in their organizations. The investigators attribute this change from previous years to:
- Increasing need for high performing employees, especially leaders
- This talent cannot be recruited; it needs to be developed internally
- Corporate training and development programs are not meeting this need
- Many employees demand learning opportunities based in the latest technology
- Organizational cultures don’t support employee engagement and learning
I think the risk is that companies will leap to technology solutions to improve learning without examining the barriers to performance improvement that exist within their own cultures. You can install the most sophisticated LMS, register employees for the best MOOCs, give them the latest mobile learning apps, and have them participate in fun and engaging online business games and simulations, all with no impact on organizational performance.
If your managers don’t encourage, support, and recognize learning, if your leaders don’t communicate the value of continuous learning and its application in the workplace, if the alignment between learning and achievement of performance goals is not clear to employees, then all the latest technology will make no difference. You need to ask yourself, “What is it about our organizational culture that is getting in the way of employee learning (and application of that learning) and what can we do to overcome those barriers?”