Why Is Learning And Development Failing To Produce Consistent ROI For Businesses?

Your learning and development (L&D) department could currently be engaged in a game of Whack-a-Mole with real dollars, not to mention your employees’ time, patience and behavior. I should know. For more than a decade I have been building game-based solutions to help make training more effective.

Successful training builds confident and competent people who do the right thing at the right time. However, there are a lot of reasons why corporate training initiatives are not successful. One of the biggest mistakes is providing too much information that is irrelevant to performance, boring to students and wastes budget delivering content instead of facilitating the practice of skills.

To achieve real ROI with every dollar spent, it’s most effective to start small and targeted, only spending dollars on skills practice. Practice is the MVP (minimally viable product) of great training. With future iterations, expand with supporting content that helps the learner overcome common mistakes.

Consulting firms Allen Interactions and Problem Solutions recently launched the Behavior Catalog to help companies like Delta Airlines and Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) identify how their employees’ behaviors affect their businesses. The Behavior Catalog creates a detailed collection of discrete behavior targets and organizes them into chapters of essential business outcomes (positive, negative, strategic). In doing so, they are identifying potent opportunities that training organizations can affect to achieve optimal business performance and increased ROI.

For instance, a call center’s performance objectives might be to achieve a 9 out of 10 in survey ratings for 99% of calls or to win a J.D. Power award for customer service. In order to achieve these objectives, the call center representatives might be required to use language that demonstrates finding a desirable solution for the customer over protecting the business. Representatives could also use language that demonstrates empathy to customers and their current situations.

Another example could be a health care provider working with patients who have airborne contagious diseases. Their business objective might be to zero in on hospital infections to other patients and providers. In order to achieve this objective, they might require 100% of their staff to wash their hands before, during and after treating every patient. They might also require every staff member to dispose protective gear at the end of each patient engagement.

According to LinkedIn’s first annual Workplace Learning Report, only 8% of CEOs see ROI for learning and development, yet over 90% of them feel that closing the skills gap by L&D would be a game-changer for their business. The costs associated with your training can become astronomical if you fail to conduct the proper research beforehand. This is not to say that every problem can be solved with effective training, only that many issues can be eliminated as a direct result of starting your training with a research step.

Successful training builds confident and competent people who do the right thing at the right time. But there are several reasons why corporate training fails, including:

1. Lack Of Interest: Trainers can avoid this by making their training contextually relevant and delivering it as a game-based simulation where employees can try different techniques in a safe practice playground.

2. Information Overload: Trainers can reduce this by delivering their content in bite-sized modules. In my experience, 5-10 minute bursts help employees retain more information.

3. Neglecting The Real World: Without practice, the majority of what employees learn will be lost in days or weeks. Trainers can avoid this by ensuring the things their employees learn are reinforced on the job.

Tom Dewett, an L&D expert, stated in a LinkedIn report: “Too many training dollars are misspent because they do not address the right skills at the right time. We often apply off-the-shelf information instead of thoughtful knowledge.” Today, corporate training is a moving target of learning methods and objectives, and needs are constantly shifting.

For example, Uber failed to conduct the proper research and development (R&D) before launching its motorcycle ride-sharing application, Ubermoto, into the Asian and African markets. It ended up selling this portion of the business as a result of a lack of compliance with regulations and registration of drivers. Uber released a written statement, saying, “We have decided to temporarily suspend our Bangkok pilot [program] … while we work on creating modern regulations for app-based motorbike services with the government.”

To achieve goals and meet KPI benchmarks, proper training must be completed before training initiatives have begun in order to save time and money for the company. The key to succeeding is prioritizing R&D, which should be conducted before engaging in training sessions. Research must be done before training begins to make sure ROI is met as a result of proper prioritization and allocation of budgets, which will enable efficient training to meet KPIs.

Companies that create learning ecosystems, behavior-based focus and enterprise modeling that last during training and throughout the company are setting themselves up for success. They are effectively transforming L&D from cost centers into engines that drive business performance.

Find the full article at FORBES

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