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How to build a culture of learning (and why you need to)

Sharon Florentine | Nov. 5, 2014
To thrive in an ever-changing IT climate, CIOs and other businesses leaders must create a culture of learning that embraces innovation and leverages it into a competitive advantage.

"Organizations that effectively train and develop talent are those that focus on core skills that are most important to success, both technical skills and soft skills like leadership and communications. This focus enables the organizations to be more agile in responding to a changing business climate, and drive faster 'speed to market' for new product introduction, which is a critical goal for IT, "says Griffin.

Learning as a Retention Tool
Additionally, a culture of learning leads to higher staff retention. "A commitment to training is seen by employees as an investment in their worth and a powerful incentive to stay at the company. Investing in your employees' education can help retain talent and intellectual property at a time when there's stiff competition for both, says Griffin.

As the talent shortage intensifies in the IT industry, businesses are looking for cost-effective, proven methods to add important skills to their workforce without hiring additional staff and enterprises who offer learning opportunities find it's a valuable retention tool. "Businesses that effectively train and develop talent tend to keep them,"says Nate Kimmons, vice president of Enterprise Marketing at elearning solutions provider According to Kimmons, organizations that do this correctly can dramatically reduce the need to hire additional resources.

From an employee perspective, gaining new skills they can apply in their current job, or gaining new skills like project management, negotiation, leadership and others can be a path to a promotion or to landing a new position. "Employees clamor for opportunities to learn not only technical, engineering and 'hard' skills, but also 'soft' skills that can translate to better leadership, better management and a more engaged and loyal workforce for your business," says Kimmons.

Overcoming Objections and Measuring ROI
One of the primary reasons some businesses are reluctant to invest in learning programs is because the immediate payback isn't always obvious according to Griffin but, as the PayScale report points out, there are metrics businesses can use to measure the effectiveness of learning programs and outcomes.

The report advises using outcome measurements, effectiveness measurements and efficiency measurements to accurately gauge the ROI of learning initiatives:

  • Outcome measurements capture the impact learning and development is expected thave on the organization's most important goals. For example, a sales training initiative might be expected tcontribute 20 percent toward the company goal of increasing sales by 10 percent.
  • Effectiveness measurements are indicators of how well learning contributes torganizational outcomes. In other words, effectiveness measures are about quality.
  • Efficiency measurements are indicators of an organization's activity and investment in learning. Examples include the number of learners and the percentage of employees that number represents, the number of courses, cycle times, utilization rates, and training costs, according tthe PayScale report data.

Smart IT leaders know that just because ROI is challenging to measure, doesn't mean it's not there. "I have ndoubt that we would be less successful as an organization if we didn't focus sintently on employee development," says Griffin.


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