With a projected increase to over $1.5 billion in company spends on employee engagement, the year 2015 has most definitely started with a bang when it comes to corporate training. In India, trends indicate that retaining high performers is getting increasingly difficult. At the same time, with today’s large talent pool, recruiting fresh talent has become extremely competitive and hence more expensive.
Retention, managing attrition and engaging a demanding and versatile workforce are going to be some of the key challenges. Companies will need to take a serious look to assess where the gap lies. Choosing the right provider is vital to ensure that your training and development initiatives are aligned with business goals, targeted and can showcase real-world results. Learning and development investment should strike a balance between measurable impact and programme cost. Until now, talent managers adopted a pick-and-choose selection from several vendors to meet diverse requirements. But we are seeing a shift towards a one-stop-shop approach—to choose consultative partners who can assess and provide services across levels, locations and competencies. Learning and development heads make sure they demand consistency in training delivery, proven content and 360-degree reports consisting of participant feedback, behavioural change and workplace application. The option of using mom-and-pop shop training outfits and freelancers as they are cheaper has boomeranged. For one, companies don’t get consistent, standardised training inputs for employees in multi-units, besides they do not usually incorporate high quality best practices in an evolving training universe.
As per the Dale Carnegie Employee Engagement Study 2014, 54% of the Indian workforce is not fully engaged at work. Disengaged employees tend to be poor performers, stirring up resentment and leading to employee attrition. Learning and development departments have traditionally tried to increase engagement in ad hoc ways, but now the trend of implementing complete engagement solutions is increasing significantly. These holistic solutions include assessments, company-specific analysis, benchmarking, targeted interventions, followed by pulse surveys.
Middle management cadres will need adequate leadership training in order to be prepared to take on bigger roles. In our globalised world, organisations are facing a leadership crisis where the skills for critical thinking, engaging others and visioning are in short supply. The ability to communicate the larger organisational vision, connect with all employee levels and generate buy-in has necessitated that leadership capabilities be the core competency that learning and development needs to focus on in 2015.
Managing millennials will become a crucial part in diversity management, because of generation gap. The new generation of employees has different aspirations, worldview and comfort with technology, which has led to the emergence of new working styles and expectations.
Millennials are defined by their love for autonomy, focus on merit over tenure and aspiration to be part of making a difference. There is a big gap in their learning patterns and preferences, compared to that of older management. Developing senior leaders will help the multi-generational workforce get direction and role-modelling from the top.
All thing considered, organisations taking decisions to amp up their learning and development investment this year, to focus on issues such as engagement, talent development and leadership, are definitely on the right track. It’s time we take our already gifted talent pool to the next level of excellence—perfection.
By Pallavi Jha
The author is chairperson & MD, Dale Carnegie Training India