Thursday, 22 January 2009

Recessionary pressures

They used to say that training was one of the first things a company would cut in a recession. But that was in the days when many companies carried large numbers of trainers on their staff. The old saw may only be true for organisations that still directly employ a lot of trainers.

Still, modern learning and development budget holders are bound to feel under threat in the current climate. So what are the arguments for maintaining spend on learning and development?

Investing in people’s talents is always a good idea, but it’s only an imperative if you can prove it impacts on flexibility, competitiveness and the bottom line. As the recession bites, learning and development professionals need to be able to make these arguments, and prove that learning is vital to their organisation’s current and future prosperity – and perhaps survival.

This may be a time to revisit fundamentals, and ask ourselves what resources we really need to fulfil the priorities in our remits. For example, is a software system that costs the annual equivalent of the salaries of two or three HR professionals really the best use of those funds? It may be time to take a blank sheet, or consider the opportunity cost of services we’ve taken for granted up to now.

At the individual level, I’m grateful to HR Network Scotland magazine for drawing my attention to the Open University’s resources “for workers to outsmart the recession”. We need more ideas like this.

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