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How to Demonstrate the Value of Learning in Difficult Economic Times
During these difficult economic times, instead of cutting back on training, many companies are, in fact, using the lull in productivity to prepare employees for the economy to bounce back.  According to an American Society for Development study, even though learning budgets are being trimmed, but no more than other budgets in many cases.  Survival of the learning function in a down economy is all about leveraging existing best practices, eliminating redundancies, and creating program or situation where employees can learn from each other.  The study also shows that there has been a shift from event-based to job-based learning and cross-training as well as more reliance on subject matter experts within companies to coach or mentor employees.

This provides employers the opportunity to transfer knowledge, share best practices, and demonstrate to your organization how to do more with less.  According to the study, “Although no one can predict what will happen next week, next month, or six months down the road, learning professionals should be helping organizational leaders focus on new initiatives and competencies that the company will need when economic conditions improve.”  As an organizational leader you need to ask yourself key questions, including:  Where is the organization and industry heading this year and in the next five years?  What are your organization’s key strategies, goals, and objectives?  What capabilities will your organization need to achieve its strategies, goals, and objectives and how will those be secured?

Use this time to build your company’s competitive advantage.  Do your employees have the skills and abilities to successfully support business strategy?  “It’s important to assure your employees by making clear your vision, making sure they know that you care and making sure that you’re direct and honest.  They just want the truth.” Says Julia Stewart, CEO of DineEquity, parent of the Applebee’s and IHOP restaurant chains.

So, perhaps there is no budget for you to hire the high-priced external training workshops at a fancy resort.  Your training should be efficient and able to develop the greatest number of people fast and effectively.  

The ASTD study suggests actions steps:  Communicate up and down to mobilize employees to create a learning culture within your organization.  Encourage mentoring.  Offer more short learning events.  Offer personal financial planning, stress management, and personal/career development.  Don’t stop leadership development programs that help your managers’ focus on financial and performance goals.  Eliminate training nice-to-haves (elaborate food and locations).  Search the internet for economic training resources.  

Unlike past downturns, your company can emerge stronger, leaner, and better prepared to compete and win that competitive advantage without missing a beat!
 

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