Although there is a distinct link between strong communication skills and business success, many organisations still have a long way to go before embracing the full scale of e-learning resources required to achieve optimum talent empowerment.
This is evident in the recent Speexx Exchange 2013 survey, which revealed that 47 percent of international corporations are investing less than a tenth of their training budget in e-learning and have yet to reap the numerous benefits on offer.
The survey, involving 230 organisations from five continents and over a dozen different industries representing more than 1.6 million employees, further revealed that although a unanimous 85% believe that cloud-based learning will become increasingly important in the future, HR management system market consolidation and cloud-based learning have not yet impacted on all organisations, with less than a third confirming any noticeable effect.
The untapped potential of mobile technology was also reflected in the survey, with 63% of organisations allowing and/or providing mobile devices in the workplace, but only 27% of these actively using them for learning purposes.
The challenge now for HR and L&D professionals is to re-examine their talent management strategy; with the aim of achieving a high return on investment that is both in line with their organisation's budget and long-term workforce needs. The following five point guide is an excellent start.
Balancing budget with benefits of e-learning: In stagnant economic times, organisations are faced with investing the right proportion of their L&D budgets in e-learning. This means not simply 'throwing money' at new technologies, but carefully calculating an appropriate budget, complementing it with a hands-on, long-term strategy aimed at ensuring maximum usage by staff in order to achieve optimum learning targets.
Move towards the cloud: 41% of organisations are still using local LMS. This means there is a significant gap between the opportunities offered by technology and its actual usage. Organisations need to find innovative ways to step outside traditional 'silos' of local training in order to embrace a global approach, with the aim to offer students a truly empowered learning experience.
Embracing mobile devices: Mobile devices are an invaluable way for providing flexible, on-demand access to essential learning information to a user anytime, anywhere. Although learning solutions available on smartphones and tablets promise to revolutionise training delivery, the survey revealed that while 63 percent of organisations provide mobile devices at work, only 27 percent of these actually offer mobile learning. This means that unless organisations adopt a collaborative, adaptable approach to social and mobile learning, end users will remain disadvantaged and unable to enjoy the benefits of a fully integrated solution.
Business alignment and long-term tactics to strengthen performance: Learning through a combination of regular assessments and review of competency levels with instructor-led support has been proven to ensure continuous skills enhancement. Integrated learning systems provide a sticky productivity tool that can be used even after a course ends and also improve ROI on existing learning infrastructures. This may include templates, such as email communication, customer presentations and dictionaries with work-specific terms. All of these will support the 'application' of such skills in the longer term.
Communication skills are not just about vocabulary or grammar exercises. It is about tailoring training to an organisation's individual circumstances. A course involving any form of communication empowerment initiative must be aligned to the practical needs of both the business and the user. The upward trend of organisations using language technology is indicative of a global shift in recognising the significant long-term value of enhancing and maintaining communication skills.
In a rapidly changing workforce, language skills provide the key to breaking down barriers and communicating effectively with clients and colleagues across borders and operating more profitably. Organisations aiming to gain a competitive advantage will need to upskill staff in order to be better placed and reach out to new target markets to build lasting strategic relationships.
By adopting the right talent management strategy, organisations can maintain a stronger, more cohesive workforce and reach out to their staff in more ways than ever before. An approach that is collaborative flexible enough to respond to the diverse learning challenges facing today's global workforce and can adapt to the rapid changes in high performance technology, ultimately translates into a life-long learning strategy that can drive productivity and business success.
Armin Hopp is the founder and president of Speexx.