A week in training: The economic drive for evaluation

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Every year, as January dawns, so do the calls that 'happy sheets are no longer enough' and experts in the field call for higher level evaluations to prove the value of training to business, writes Claire Savage. But as the recession takes hold, is 2009 really the year when L&D will have to keep a tighter track on its training spend? The polls would suggest so, but what do you think? Post a comment below.

Happy sheets still dominate training evaluation
Two-thirds of businesses don’t know how to adequately assess their training investment, according to Parity. This is despite nearly 70% of respondents ranking learning and development as important as salary and other benefits when looking for a new job.

According to its research, Parity said that many companies' evaluation of training effectiveness consists of no more than a post-learning discussion with a line manager (46%) or ‘observing’ new skills in the workplace (45%).“This ad-hoc, informal evaluation is often undertaken by untrained individuals using inaccurate tools, leaving businesses oblivious to their training spend and the actual positive output for the investment,” said Allan Pettman, managing director at Parity Training.

43% of respondents claimed making sure new skills are applied in the workplace would have the most positive impact in their organisation. 39% stated that aligning skill development plans to business goals would have a similar constructive influence.

“This thirst for effective evaluation highlights that a company’s training investment needs to be assessed, especially in a ‘business case’ climate, to ensure it is aligned to overarching business goals,” concluded Pettman.

Parity polled 340 individuals - half of whom were L&D managers, the other half were training delegates - in November and December '08.

Evaluating elearning a priority for L&D
Almost 60% of UK learning and development professionals are under more pressure to measure the impact of elearning. At the same time, half of organisations are expecting their elearning spend to rise, according to a new survey by Brightwave, whilst 80% of total training budgets are likely to be cut or stay the same.

Commenting on the results, Brightwave's Director of Learning Services, Lars Hyland, said: “As organisations change to survive the current climate, people also need to change. Looking ahead, elearning will be critical to the way we support employees in the workplace. It’s no longer a novelty.”

Leaders seen as priority for development
More than half – 55%- of international business plan to defend their investments in 'behavioural development' programmes in areas such as leadership, management and sales. On the downside, 20% say that they will cut their budgets, according to research by Krauthammer.

A third of the respondents forecasted a poor business climate for 2009. Around 20% believed they had "low resistance" to a difficult business climate and were planning to cut their behavioural development budgets in line with their predictions. However, over twice as many - 55% - felt resistant - and 42% even planned to raise development budgets.

Leadership training was highlighted by 53% of respondents as a priority, followed by sales training (47%) and management training (42%). Cross-functional training such as IT- and language skills were the least defended, the poll suggested.

Overall, training appeared less vulnerable to cuts than coaching.

Ronald Meijers, Co-chairman of the Board of Krauthammer said: "The news is mixed. The most positive signal we can distil from our probe is that companies will prioritise initiatives with a real and measurable impact. So consultants that excel in sophisticated forms of body-shopping* will probably be hit as hard as temporary personnel providers."

*Body shopping typically implies filling temporary competence gaps rather than structurally improving a company's performance.

Software Satisfaction Awards open for entries
Entering its fourth year, the race is now on for Sift Media's prestigious Software Satisfaction Awards 2009.

Based on the UK's biggest single market research survey, the Software Satisfaction Awards are based on ratings from business software users of the products they use in the following areas: ease of use; functionality; reliability; and value for money.

In 2008, 5,967 respondents took part in the survey. Sift Media expects a higher number to participate this year from the 250,000 members of its professional online communities Finance Week, AccountingWEB.co.uk, BusinessZone.co.uk, UK Business Forums, MyCustomer.com, TrainingZone, HR Zone and KnowledgeBoard.com.

The category list for training and HR is as follows:
* SME HR Software
* Enterprise HR Software
* Talent Management Software
Learning Software
Winners will be revealed at the Software Satisfaction Awards 2009 dinner on Thursday 8 October 2009 at The Royal Courts of Justice in London. For more information on the awards click here.

Web 2.0 working wonders
A report has found that 'new' social media such as instant messaging (IM), wikis and social networking style applications and blogs are having a positive effect on the UK workforce.

Published by the Work Foundation, supported by BT Global Services, the study, entitled Changing Relationships at Work has found that 64% of respondents do not work in the same physical place as most of their work friends and colleagues. To keep in touch, many are utilising the 'new' technologies such as social networking sites, to maintain strong relationships with colleagues, clients and friends.

Alexandra Jones, associate director at The Work Foundation and lead author of the report, commented: "Organisations that use new collaborative technologies to complement traditional methods of communication are able to continue fostering strong working relationships amongst employees in the most modern and flexible of settings, ensuring an environment in which workers can thrive."

UK managers prepare for the axe
Managers across the UK have accepted their own redundancy as ‘inevitable’, according to evidence compiled by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). Analysis of calls to the CMI’s redundancy hotline, combined with a series of polls, found that Britain’s executives have moved from ‘concern about job security’ to ‘preparing for a job hunt’.

One in four respondents to a survey of 1,216 individuals (28%) admitted they were currently updating their CV in readiness for a job search. A similar proportion (27%) were making extra efforts to develop business networks, hoping to uncover job opportunities. While 64% have worked in an organisation where others have been made redundant.

However, many managers remained up-beat; 73% believed there was less stigma attached to redundancy now than during the 1990s and 51% felt the current economic climate was the ‘perfect opportunity to reassess my career’.

More on this story here.

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