One question that most L&D practitioners ask our consultants is how they can justify their learning budgets.
Interestingly, when the pandemic initially broke out many of our scheduled trainings had to fall off because our clients’ training budget had been slashed in order to make way for the crisis relief plans.
Usually the training budget gets cut first whenever an organization is undergoing budget cuts, this is an unfortunate practice in many organizations. One question that comes to mind is – is the Training function not critical enough to survive the chopping board?
Well the good news is that the Learning function is in actual fact critical. But why do many executives find it easy to cut down budgets starting with employee capacity building interventions? The three common reasons why this happens are:
1. Failure to align training interventions to business objectives,
One of the reasons that make the L&D function to be deemed less critical is the failure of those responsible for this function (the L&D practitioners) to align training interventions to business objectives. If you do not design your training plans with the end in mind, you will find it hard to align with the ultimate business objectives.
Training is not about events or ticking the box activities – you have to know what problems your trainings are solving. When you talk of effective trainings you talk of result oriented trainings and such trainings are aligned to your goals, strategy and vision.
2. Not communicating the value of the training interventions
If you have ever wondered why your Learning budgets get cut first or why it is difficult to get sufficient budget allocation then another challenge you might be struggling with is failure to communicate the value of the Learning function.
Many L&D practitioners don’t realize that they are sales persons. The success of your Learning function lies in your ability to sell your trainings to different stakeholders and you can only get buy in when people see the value of what you are offering.
Now, value means different things to different people. For instance the line manager wants to understand how the training will improve the employee’s capabilities in their department. The finance manager wants to understand the return on investment of that training. The employee who will be going under training wants to know how participating in that training will contribute to their career progression and professional development.
Overally, the organization wants to understand how that training ultimately improve business performance e.g. increase in customer satisfaction and/ sales improvement. Unless you communicate the value of your training it will be difficult to get buy in from any of your stakeholders.
3. Lack of data that proves the value of the Learning Function
Communicating the value of your training interventions requires data. When you intentionally measure the impact of your trainings you can factually prove how relevant, strategic and valuable the Learning function is within the organization.
Data driven learning analytics and reporting helps you (the L&D practitioner) link training performance to essential business results and this is the quality of information that is needed for your L&D unit to be considered a critical strategic partner to all business units.
There are a number of learning metrics that can be used to measure learning for instance e.g. those that measure Learner experience and Learner engagement. However, the most crucial metrics to prove your strategic value are those that determine the business impact like Job impact, Time to job impact and Business performance.
More than ever now is the time to prove the criticalness of the L&D function. We are at a time where almost all things have become new and thus the Learning function is expected to drive the necessary change within the organization. At such a time as this, the L&D function cannot afford to have an inadequate budget.
So prioritize these 3 things:
Know your organizational Vision and objectives and align your training interventions to those business objectives,
Make sure you measure your training impact and collect as much data as you can from other business units and functions that are impacted by the employees you have trained.
Then communicate the value of your training interventions to all stakeholders.