Why L&D is an investment, not just an expense

by Brett Henebery22 Aug 2017
Some organisations might think of training as more of an expense than an investment, which explains why achieving buy-in for L&D programs can often be a difficult task.

Some L&D professionals say that organisations need to be more aware that training can be not only a morale-booster for employees but a fast-track to increased productivity.

Sarah Rodgers, principal at iolite consulting, is a coach, trainer and facilitator with an extensive background in organisation capability development, cultural transformation and corporate leadership.

“I think that at times, there isn't a lot of investment put into genuine training needs,” Rodgers told L&D Professional.

“When I worked at the Sydney Airport, we took this very seriously and the entire management team was engaged in determining where any gaps were.”

Rodgers said that budget pressure and at times, the swing towards outsourcing HR functions – in particular L&D – can compromise the training needs’ analysis.

“In my experience, focussing on the real needs means that the actual investment can be targeted and typically leads to improved outcomes,” she said.

Kate Barker, vice president at Global Human Resources and executive advisor at SAP SuccessFactors, said Australian organisations must be allowed to innovate and grow if they are to craft the highly-skilled workforce of the future.

“Although the role of L&D is to focus on strategic workforce development and future-proof organisations for radical change, the truth is that many companies aren’t investing in this area,” Barker told L&D Professional.

“Evaluating training is inherently challenging which has seen my HR professionals turn to training evaluation form or ‘happy sheets’, or completion rates or feedback surveys which are at risk of unconscious bias now that many of the workforces are cross-generational and cross-cultures.”

Barker said that organisations must first focus on skills for the future and ensure that training evaluation is based on the transfer of knowledge back to the workforce, and that skills training is aligned to both current and future roles.

“Second, organisations must design training with experiential learning activities or ‘future-role’ based responsibilities,” she explained.

“These should be aligned directly to the organisation’s future goals so that training evaluation involve not only qualifiable and quantifiable measures but also future-proofs the organisation.”

Related stories:
Can you really calculate ROI on L&D?
Do you have a pulse on your learners’ happiness?