Learning and Development (L&D) professionals have a challenging road ahead, according to a new study from Oxygen and HCI Research. The study found that over the next two years the majority of organizations surveyed (64 percent) will increase their L&D in-house offerings, yet maintain current staffing levels (66 percent). While human resources will remain level, 42 percent of organizations will increase their learning budgets and 44 percent will maintain the same level, with 14 percent planning to decrease budgets. Learning technologies continue to be popular, with 61 percent of organizations planning to increase technology investments.

The study took a deep dive into how high performing organizations (criteria defined in partnership with HCI Research ) approached learning and development in comparison to other organizations. A convincing 68 percent of HPOs said their organization believes learning is not just an event, while 51 percent of all other organizations believe that. HPOs also have a positive viewpoint on failure: 75 percent stated failures are inevitable opportunities to learn, while only 45 percent of other organizations agreed with that statement.

How L&D Integrates with the Business

HPOs demonstrated more success in integrating learning and development with the business side than other organizations. The biggest discrepancies were found in the areas of meeting the business needs in a timely manner and having a strong partnership with the business.

L&D has a strong partnership with the business:

  • High performing organizations: 95 percent
  • All other organizations: 64 percent

L&D is able to meet the timely needs of the business:

  • High performing organizations: 92 percent
  • All other organizations: 58 percent

L&D has a visible process that helps sets expectations with the business:

  • High performing organizations: 92 percent
  • All other organizations: 64 percent

L&D aligns business learning initiatives to the business strategy:

  • High performing organizations: 100 percent
  • All other organizations: 75 percent

L&D has measures in place that clearly show its impact on the business:

  • High performing organizations: 78 percent
  • All other organizations: 49 percent

“We see time and again organizations that balance business objectives with the very human process of learning see demonstrably better outcomes, from time to productivity, to employee retention, to agility,” said Juliana Stancampiano, founder and CEO of Oxygen Experience.  “High performing organizations provide a very useful roadmap to navigating the learning process.”

Business Collaboration

Successful collaboration with the business begins at the leadership level, however, only one-third of the organizations surveyed have ahead of the learning function who reports directly to the CEO. In terms of learning participation, slightly more than half (55 percent) of L&D initiatives support senior leaders.

The roles and levels organizations support through learning and enablement initiatives:

  • First-time managers: 75 percent
  • Entry-level roles: 75 percent
  • High-potentials: 69 percent
  • Middle or director-level managers: 68 percent
  • Senior leaders/executives: 55 percent
  • Identified individual or groups on a performance improvement plan: 52 percent
  • Technical/expert individual contributor roles: 41 percent

Measuring the Wrong Outcomes

When asked which aspects of performance were measured in the past year, the focus was on soft results, with only one-third measuring the extent to which a learning program impacts business outcomes:

  • Audience receptiveness to training: 66 percent
  • Employee engagement: 65 percent
  • Increases in knowledge or skills or capabilities: 50 percent
  • Attendees’ ability to do what they were trained on: 44 percent
  • High-performer retention 35 percent
  • The extent to which a learning program impacts
  • business outcomes: 32 percent
  • Predicting future learning needs: 28 percent
  • Time to proficiency for new hires: 26 percent
  • ROI of the learning function: 19 percent
  • Percentage of quota attainment: 10 percent

“Until L&D teams start measuring real business outcomes, they will continue to have difficulty gaining the necessary leadership level support and resources for successful corporate learning initiatives,” said Stancampiano.

About the Survey

In 2017, from November 11-27, a survey link to a 24-item questionnaire was distributed via e-mail to members of Human Capital Institute’s (HCI) Survey Panel. Separate questions were asked of Learning, Training, HR, and Enablement professionals, and of business leaders, line managers, and individual contributors, to generate a 360-degree view of the L&D function. In addition, we interviewed 14 individuals in business leadership positions, three salespeople, and six subject matter experts.

About Oxygen Experience

Oxygen helps your people. We enable people to work across business functions to delight customers. Oxygen gives teams an alternative to random acts in the workplace: meaningful and tangible business outcomes to work toward, and metrics to know how they’re doing in their work.  Oxygen designs and delivers architected learning experiences that use productivity measures to drive the learning content and outcomes. These productivity measures are based on the CEO’s growth agenda. We accomplish this by implementing frameworks, systems, and a host of tools on a variety of platforms that disrupt, provoke, and question. We work with you and your team to create performance breakthroughs; the kind that changes employees, companies and bottom lines. For more information please visit www.oxygenexp.com.

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