Learning shouldnt be taken as optional, but essential

Updated: Jan 6 2014, 15:32pm hrs
Today, businesses that dont match the pace of the dynamics prevailing in the business environment die out and their extinction is out of question. For the survival of any business, it becomes extremely important that employees be well-equipped with skills that make them dynamic, proficient and help them keep up with the speed of the current business terrain. This is because, these are the people who are going to produce, deliver, manage and refine your products and services. Not everybody is born with skills that are good for business and neither would they be inherently adept at such skills. But these skills can be taught to employees across ages and levels. Learning, therefore, is an integral activity for all professionals in the corporate world.

However, it is often regarded as a time-waster and is considered as an activity that can be easily overlooked. Often managers neglect it, the reasons being manifold. Lets take a look at why learning is generally cast aside as compared to other business activities.

Considered a cost centre: Many companies regard learning as an expenditure rather than an investment. This perception has been created as it yields intangible benefits. These abstract results that would cumulatively result in greater revenue levels often go unnoticed as compared to other business activities, which yield real results.

Strains time: Training involves time, effort and resources on the companys part to help people get better with a particular skill. Since companies have to take those many man-days off the employee work schedule, which, in turn, would impact productivity and output, training then doesnt become a priority.

Change should be instant: Often a sea-change is expected to happen in the skill, attitude and behaviour levels of an employee who has been trained. But these skills can be bettered only with time.

What do we train on: Often, companies put in several efforts before deciding which skills the employees should be trained on. However, due to the inability of identifying these skills with ease, they often end up sending individuals for programmes that are not even relevant to their job profile. This leads to a wastage of time and effort.

Treated as a mandate: When preparing their yearly calendars, managers generally look at learning as a part of accomplishing their KRAs. Little or no interest is shown in knowing whether the training has really helped the employees.

On the contrary, learning improves the skills, attitudes and the behaviour of individuals. It accentuates productivity, leading to better employee performance and increased profit levels. It improves employee engagement and keeps them happy. It helps any company to retain its personnel as well.

Given the numerous benefits, the fact remains that learning is something that is not being given its due. Not only companies who take up training for their employees but also vendors who partner with companies for their training assignments are not serious about it. It is considered as a theoretical topic that is taught to participants without even emphasising on how the programme can be relevant to an individual in his work life. Boring larger-than-life theories, psychological models and even silly games form the crux of such trainings, which not only makes learning mundane but also renders efforts towards training useless. Its high time that companies take joint and serious efforts towards learning so that not only do they build better people but also build better results.

Swapnil Kamat

The author is founder, CEO & chief trainer at Work Better, an executive education & training company