Learning and development failing to deliver for two-thirds of UK organisations, study finds

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Written by Seun Robert-Edomi on 18 July 2014 in News

The top reason for this lack of L&D effectiveness was cited as a lack of support from business unit managers and leaders, reflected in the finding that less than one third (29 per cent) of L&D organisations said it got the investment it needed

Learning and development activity is failing to deliver a lasting impact for two-thirds of organisations in the UK, and is starved of the resources it needs to be effective, according to research conducted by learning and development consultancy Profitability.

The research, Learning with Impact – challenges and opportunities for L&D published today, found that only 33 per cent of those involved in designing and delivering L&D said it had a lasting impact on their people or organisation. Nearly half (49 per cent) said their L&D function could do more to improve its effectiveness.

The top reason for this lack of L&D effectiveness was cited as a lack of support from business unit managers and leaders, reflected in the finding that less than one third (29 per cent) of L&D organisations said it got the investment it needed.

This is despite the fact that nearly half (45 per cent) of those questioned said L&D was critical in supporting execution of business strategy

The research also showed that despite the growing popularity of e-learning, practitioners have reservations around its effectiveness in delivering lasting improvement in knowledge and skills.

Less than one in ten rated webinars, audio learning or online virtual learning as effective and only 12 per cent said mobile learning packages for smartphones or tablets were effective.

Action learning was rated as the most effective L&D practice whether this was through on- the-job training (69 per cent), coaching-based learning (57 per cent), business simulations (43 per cent) or computer-based games (38 per cent).

Speaking about the results, Brian Helweg-Larsen, founder of Profitability, said: “L&D has a vital role to play for organisations, whether they are facing growth or reinvention, in equipping leaders and managers with the skills to deliver change.

“However, the stark conclusion we come to in our report is that for many organisations, L&D activity is falling short of what it needs to deliver.

“While it is good that organisations say they will refocus their L&D activity in the year ahead to improve business focus, unless the new activities are aligned to the needs of the business and designed with L&D tactics which can deliver lasting impact on behaviour, knowledge or skills, then they are unlikely to deliver value.”



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Submitted on 18 July, 2014 - 15:24
I would add that many trainers are still unqualified or developed themselves to deliver engaging, effective learning where skills, knowledge and behaviours are transferred to the workplace. Many trainers found their way into training as a specialist of sorts and rely on their knowledge to get them by, resorting to the old lecture style delivery. I agree that L&D businesses and teams are under-resourced and financed, leaving them to rely on Blended/ELearning; outside consultants or SMEs, or alternatively simply failing to cope with the demand. Frequently, SMEs are untrained and companies embark on implementing Elearning without fully understanding the best strategies. Fortunately, there are organisations such as ours that can help across ALL L&D disciplines, if the investment is available.

Jilly Jones

Submitted on 30 July, 2014 - 12:52
I would dearly love to be able to demonstrate Return on Investment for the many trainers who use our venue and 400-acre estate. It doesn’t surprise me that “action learning” is rated the most effective – at Farncombe we constantly strive to create highly memorable events that engage the participant through strong themes, physical activity and humour. Simple examples include pop-up cinema, picnic power lunches and lots of unusual ideas – from climbing trees and human sheep herding to husky dog sledging. We have also worked with trainers to develop a range of easy-to use L&D outdoor activities we call Eye Openers. For trainers, the immediate benefit of action learning is the positive post-training feedback, which makes it easier to justify their training budget spend for the following year. Delegates take their exhilaration back to work and cascade it through the company – so it touches even those that didn’t attend. This in terms helps to win support from business unit managers and leaders when it comes to proving the ROI of training budget spend. There isn’t really a limit to the high-energy approach. The Return on Investment is that (unlike e-learning) activity learning leaves people feeling rewarded, refreshed and engaged. It’s hard to put a monetary value on that. Jilly Jones, Mkting Manager, Farncombe Estate

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