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The learning squabble: Compliance or organisational capability?

Creating value through learning and building organisational capability
Many organisations today are more concerned with the impact of learning on their BEE scorecard than using learning to build organisational capacity.

The learning squabble: Compliance or organisational capability?

The BBBEE scorecard is a real thing and has a huge commercial impact on all companies. According to Angus Young, director at Prime Reason, submitting a workplace skills plan (WSP) or work place skills report (WSR), is a tick box exercise that consumes a huge amount of resources. “It’s all about trying to hit the numbers, not just in volumes of people trained to meet targets, but in terms of financial requirements.”

‘Investment’ into learning is often driven by the financial director looking at the forecast and determining how much should be spent on training.  Enter Excel – everyone scrambles to find the numbers and make sure it’s a fit. Building a WSR is often as unsophisticated as logging employee names against courses, then importing information into a report that’s used to determine the learning plan for the following year.  Worse still this is often used to ‘build’ and submit the WSP for the next year, so an imperfect process is used to create an imperfect plan.

To build an effective learning strategy, one that focuses on building organisational capacity requires an organisation to unpack their short to mid-term strategy and ask themselves, How will our business change to remain competitive and viable, says Young.

“Critical aspects are understanding the impact of the 4th industrial revolution and looking at what skills we need to teach existing employees. Recruiting all these resources is simply not viable and new joiners will most certainly ask what commitments the company has to their future development. It could be argued that this is more relevant and important for smaller businesses than enterprise organisations.

“Organisations need to look for a system or process that helps them to create a coherent training plan that uses a skills gap analysis to unpack exactly what kind of training is needed, by whom, and in which area of the business,” says Young. In the perfect world training requirements should be a natural part of every employee’s development discussion (not to be confused with performance management). Instead of asking the managers what training they want and adding lists to a spreadsheet, identify meaningful skills development and training courses (including internal training) and let employees choose from these. Managers should ensure that the training offered to their teams is relevant and interesting as this will foster deeper engagement across team and company culture.

“By analysing the entire workforce, the organisation can find the skills it needs today, uncover any looming gaps that may impact on performance, and plan ahead for the skills development it will need over the next few years,” says Young. 

A learning philosophy that meets genuine needs and fills important gaps ensures the company is creating a skilled pool of people that can fundamentally impact productivity and the bottom line. Done correctly both organisational capacity and BBBEE skills development mandates can be achieved and sustained.

Platforms impact opportunity

“A robust learning platform can become the repository for intellectual capital within the organisation,” says Young. “By creating a portal that’s easy to access and that includes all the company’s training and compliance mandates, you are giving people the chance to further their knowledge beyond the boundaries of their current roles. Human capital is incredibly important to nurture, and most talent today looks to what training a company offers as part of their decision-making process – if you want the best talent, you need to invest into talent.”

A well-designed learning platform should also include policies, programmes and regulations around occupational health and safety, onboarding, compliance, electronic communications, disciplinary conduct and more. If the system is simple and user-friendly, then it will tick another box for the business, perhaps one of the most important – making sure that compliance and management tools are accessible and efficient so that the business is on a sound legal footing. 

“The impact of a compliant and experience-driven learning platform is massive,” says Young. “If the system is easy to use and relevant, it will deliver a return on its investment time and time again. And yes, the investment can be hefty for an enterprise-grade learning system. But there are ways of building learning platforms slowly and steadily within carefully managed budgets that achieve the same results.”

With the right infrastructure, the organisation can start with only a few training courses and policy documents, slowly building up its library over time and as finances allow. This gives smaller companies room to expand their skills development portfolio without losing out to the bigger companies. 

“We help organisations to gather all their artefacts, training courses and learning done in the past and to create a platform that pulls together all the relevant elements into one central space,” concludes Young. “This can transform engagement and skills development without a heavy cost outlay. You can then add to the platform as required, growing a skills resource that will stand the business in good stead for years,” he concludes.

Angus Young offers insight into all aspects of the human capital lifecycle. Read his views on recruitment, onboarding and the value of analytics

About Prime Reason

Prime Reason helps companies unlock potential – intelligently. We provide you with a blend of market-leading talent acquisition and management expertise with next-generation platforms and toolkits to provide a boutique talent and HR solution that meets changing market needs. Find us on Facebook and LinkedIn.

4 Aug 2021 13:54