The past three years have taught us how an economic crisis can transform the way we work. Rapid digitization, economic uncertainty and hybrid work are placing new demands on employees who require different skills to cope with the new normal of work.
HR leaders have been challenged like never before to lead their employees through an unpredictable environment. Evolving business demands, shifting priorities, and new skill development needs highlight the role of HR in crisis management and subsequent recovery.
It’s important for HR leaders to prioritize their focus areas especially when they have a growing “to-do” list of responsibilities. What will be the focus for HR leaders in 2023? How can they contribute to building critical skills and competencies that will make their organization and employees future-ready?
5 focus areas for CHROs and L&D experts to recession-proof their business
1. Align training with organizational goals
According to LinkedIn’s 2023 Workplace Learning Report, mapping learning to business goals is the No. 1 priority for learning and development strategists this year.
When your employees’ skills and knowledge are aligned to your business goals, your organization will gain a significant competitive advantage, enhanced productivity, increased sales, and improved brand reputation.
To align training with business goals, HR leaders should:
- Understand and decide on the long-term goals of the business.
- Analyze how and what kind of training programs will meet the organizational requirements.
- Identify the new skills and competencies that employees will need to achieve the desired performance.
- Figure out what kind of modalities (forms of learning) can best meet the training needs – instructor-led live sessions, eLearning, webinars, etc.
- Involve the C-suite in the communication loop for a clearer vision of the organizational goals.
- Decision-makers should be aware of the purpose of the training and how it helps achieve long-term business goals, so they can justify the money spent on training.
- Ensure scope for continual learning through post-training reinforcement.
2. Invest in training to make your business recession-proof
Every organization that invests in training intends to gain better growth, stability, and a brighter future. A recent study by Deloitte states that organizations with a strong learning culture are able to boost their employee engagement and retention rates by 30 to 50%. Continued training through an affordable solution ensures that your people have the skills they need to keep serving customers even during a recession, and keeps their morale high even when increments fail to meet their expectations.
What kind of training can help recession-proof your business?
- Training people on specific soft skills, such as communication, flexibility, emotional intelligence, tolerance, resilience, adaptability, etc. can prepare them to meet any upcoming challenges.
- Interactive training courses that simulate less expected or less likely situations, difficult customer experiences, or other challenging endeavors allow employees to get trained in a completely safe environment.
- Companies that invest in upskilling and reskilling programs are in a better position to help their employees stay ahead of the curve and equip them to deal with any challenge or change in the future.
- Managing finances is a stressful process during an economic downturn. Companies that deliver financial planning/wellness training to their workforce can bring positive changes to their employees’ personal and professional lives.
- Similarly, it’s important to prioritize mental health and wellness training initiatives that will equip employees to focus on their job better, making them more productive and happier.
3. Gauge the impact of training on business growth and ROI
A report by Accenture shows that for every dollar a company invests in training, they receive about USD 4.53 in return, that is, a 353% ROI. It’s important for HR leaders and L&D teams to make a strong business case that will justify the adoption of the right learning technology platform for their organization. When the C-suite has a clear insight regarding the business significance and the potential ROI offered by the learning initiatives and tools, they will be ready to invest in employee development.
Here are a few tips to measure learning ROI and its impact on your business:
- Work with the senior leadership to identify your organization’s desired learning outcomes and determine your training goals.
- Decide the KPIs to be used for calculating training ROI. Choose measurable and quantifiable KPIs that are competency-based, skill-based, and aligned to employee and organizational goals.
- Implement a learning and development (L&D) platform that allows you to track learning analytics and measure outcomes, or integrate your LMS with a trusted third-party analytics platform that can offer actionable insights on your L&D performance.
- Correlate the preferred KPIs against training variables provided by your L&D platform to obtain deep, measurable insights. For example, sales training should improve sales performance and soft skills training should improve communication.
- Test the knowledge gained by employees using periodic quizzes, tests, and assessments. Track the results to understand the level of knowledge retained by employees and analyze how they apply the knowledge back on their jobs.
4. Reduce training & onboarding costs without sacrificing the quality and effectiveness of L&D
According to the ATD State of The Industry Report, an average organization spent USD 1,280 per employee on formal learning in 2022. However, the cost of not training your employees can hurt your bottom line severely, leading to higher employee turnover and more errors at work.
Here are a few tips to help you plan a realistic training budget:
- Choose an L&D platform that helps streamline and automate the routine tasks around planning, assigning, and measuring your training. This will give your admins their time back to focus on valuable tasks like developing courses and defining learning objectives.
- Online training delivered via an L&D will allow your employees to access and learn the courses from anywhere. It saves your employees’ time and traveling costs.
- New employees replacing the existing workforce can leverage an L&D platform to access job-specific and organizational courses, reducing the time taken to settle down and be productive.
- Invest in online, asynchronous training to train your employees without breaking the bank.
- Collaborate with your in-house experts to create internal training programs that can be delivered via an LMS to cut your training costs.
5. Create personalized learning journeys
L&D plays an important role in providing highly engaging, learner-centric development experiences. A survey by Forbes shows that 47% of respondents are not satisfied with their employer’s learning and development programs as they take a blanket approach in which all the learners are served the same content.
Personalized learning, on the other hand, focuses on individual requirements meaning that employees are provided with content that meets their learning needs and objectives.
- Creating personalized learning plans allow L&D leaders to track training progress and performance, and add performance management elements like one-on-ones, feedback, or skills reviews into the process.
- Supervisors or managers will find it easy to stay in touch with their employees during key moments and evaluate their progress on the fly.
- Learners are more likely to remember relevant content and apply the knowledge gained in their day-to-day roles.
- Personalized learning paths aided by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning powered course recommendations will make it possible for employees to consume relevant content and learn at a faster pace.
- By improving the quality of content and the method of training, employees will be in a better position to create more engaging and relevant customer experiences. Thus, personalized learning helps generate more revenue from your products and services.
To bolster long-term preparedness, organizations must make learning and development a part of their employees’ daily workflow. Nearly 69% of organizations are doing more skill building now than they did before the COVID-19 crisis. “Learning in the flow of work”, which is best managed through a learning management system, will help organizations to upskill and reskill their employees at speed.
What are your organization’s HR priorities to win in today’s business climate? We’d love to hear from you. If you’d like to know how Skill Lake can help ensure continuous learning and development in your workplace, contact our team.
Aarathy is a Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at Skill Lake. She is majorly into content marketing and focuses on getting the messaging right across a host of marketing collaterals. While not working on content, you can find her juggling SEO, social media, branding, and more. She enjoys exploring new frontiers in digital marketing and the associated challenges keep her going.