As the well-worn adage has it, no training is most costly, as it leaves people under-prepared and ill-equipped to meet the challenges that they confront in the workplace. Foundation skills courses offer a broad range of subjects and deliver training in fundamental business skills. But not all organisations offer these courses or do so only piecemeal.
So, just how much is the cost to an organisation of failing to implement foundation skills training?
Not keeping up
The one constant in modern business seems to be change. The notion of a job for life has long since ceased to apply in most sectors. But even within a reasonably secure job some change in role, expectations and skills are now the norm. If you want to keep pace with change, you need to be flexible and broaden your skills base.
A key area of foundation skills is Change Management. These courses are designed to help you deal with and manage change within and across an organisation. They give you the tools to effect change and a good understanding of the change process and how it impacts on people. The training helps people engage with change whether as managers or employees so that when change comes, as it surely must, the organisation is not only prepared but understands the best way of managing it.
But it’s not just about change on a process or strategy level, it’s about change for the benefit of people too. A key element in any workforce is the need for personal development. This change is internalised as people look to ways of adapting to new circumstances and taking advantage of new opportunities to advance their career paths. If your organisation doesn’t facilitate employee development, you’ll fail to maximise the potential of your greatest asset – the people who work for you. Keeping up is not only about competing in the marketplace, but it’s also about meeting expectations in house too.
Lack of standards
Failure to implement broad-based training like foundation skills can have a detrimental effect on standards within an organisation. If you’re looking to introduce new processes or make other enhancements, you need to be sure you’re working from a solid and secure foundation. You need to be confident there’s a shared level of skills and ability on which you can build. If you don’t have that basis, you’ll have an uneven quality that will distort and undermine what you’ve set out to achieve.
Think of foundation skills as basic training in business literacy. If you don’t have a general, shared sense of business literacy the foundations on which you’re trying to build will be unstable and endanger the project.
Also, foundation skills training is often closely aligned with CPD schemes. Chances are that if you don’t offer the chance for CPD, your people will demand it. The great benefit of CPD, with its recognition of attainment across an industry sector, is in establishing a common, standard measure of business aptitude and attainment.
Recognition of CPD or similar industry-wide accreditation provides a powerful motivation for people to learn and develop. If you don’t have such schemes in place, it sends a signal to your employees that training and learning are secondary considerations. Without enabling personal development you’re not going to have the flexible, adaptable workforce that you need to respond to and embrace change. They will be left behind just as the organisation wants to move forward. This asymmetric approach estranges and discourages the very people who need to drive the organisation on.
This lack of provision for staff will leave them demotivated and unengaged. This will either result in a dip in performance or will push them only to look elsewhere to develop the skills they need. In both instances, you’re losing influence over your people. And so the disconnect between the organisation’s goals and the ambitions of the people tasked with fulfilling those goals widens.
Not maximising potential and performance
The real measure of effective training is how it translates into performance. The most effective training is that which delivers relevance and is closely aligned with and situated in the workflow. If you don’t deploy foundation skills training, you’ll not have the key skills, like communication and people management, that allow you to develop teams and collaborative working practices.
Training needs to be closely aligned with business goals. Any training programme needs first to identify gaps in knowledge and performance and then address them. If you’ve no coherent training strategy, those gaps will only grow and performance will suffer accordingly as people don’t have the skills and the support to reach the targets and deliver the efficiencies the organisation requires. Again, you’re not taking with you the people you need to sustain and drive the business.
The cost of remediation
Eventually you’ll no longer be able to paper over the cracks. As your organisation seeks to adapt and improve, you’ll find that the people you rely on are under-skilled and lacking the drive to perform. Then it becomes far harder to implement the remedial training the organisation and they require.
In these circumstances you’re in a position of fire-fighting. Rather than costing and calculating the ROI on a training programme, you’re implementing ad hoc, emergency measures to stop the drift. When you’re implementing training as an after-thought, it means you’ve lost direction. It’s harder now to establish that basis on which to build as you’re in reactive rather than proactive mode.
If you don’t prioritise training as a strategic weapon and just see it as a means to plug a hole, you’ll enter a downward spiral where you’re always trying to catch up.
The biggest cost
Training is an investment in people. If you fail to invest in them, you’re liable to lose them. In the scenarios we’ve looked at, you’ll find that eventually, people will vote with their feet. A fast-paced, ever-changing business environment can leave people feeling less secure. The corollary is that for those with the right skills and motivation will look elsewhere to develop. One person’s insecurity and lack of engagement is another person’s freedom and opportunity for advancement. And when those people leave, they’ll take their expertise and drive with them.
That loss of expertise and talent is felt not just on an individual level but also has a negative impact on the whole organisation. It’s bad for morale and makes it more difficult for the organisation to develop and attract new talent. It can create a vicious circle that undermines an organisation’s ability to work effectively.
Never mind the cost, look to the value
These then are some of the negative consequences of a failure to implement foundation skills training. But they’re not inevitable. You can avoid them by recognising the fundamental role training plays in making an organisation fit and ready to deal with the challenges ahead. Recognition of training as a core, strategic activity that includes all must start from the top. The strategic role of training must be further emphasised by aligning it directly and clearly to the organisation’s business goals.
Training must be relevant to be effective. It not only needs to be explicitly tied to job roles and practices, but it also needs to be moved close to work and into the workflow. If people see the benefits and direct applicability of training, they are more likely to engage successfully with it. They and the organisation derive the benefits. Training is a way to motivate, develop and retain talent.
Foundation skills training meets many of these key training needs by providing a wide range of modules, written and approved by experts, tied to CPD and other industry-approved accreditation, and delivered via eLearning to ensure flexible and accessible training when and where it’s needed.
Not implementing foundation skills training is hugely costly. You’ll miss out on the huge benefits a more motivated, better equipped, more efficient and productive workforce offers. Foundations skills training delivers a real return on investment in enhanced performance and the retention and development of talent and that’s well worth the outlay.
Ryan is responsible for looking after Learning Pool’s learning libraries. He’s always looking for ways to innovate our learning offer by accelerating trends and finding solutions to the needs of every sector Learning Pool works with.
His aim is to build great relationships that enable growth in learning libraries, explore new and existing markets and develop stronger relationships with our customers.
Ryan has a pedigree of Product Management across HR technologies and learning specifically.
Outside of the office, Ryan has a wide range of interests from sports to science! Most often, you’ll find him on long walks through the Dales.