In recent years, workforce training has gone from a luxury to a necessity. Technical skill requirements seem to be changing faster than ever, and businesses that don’t recognize this can often be left flailing as their teams struggle to get to grips with workplace technology and automation.
Looking at it from the other side, training is also a necessity because the workforce wants it. The offer of ongoing training and development is a big draw to prospective job applicants, and business has acknowledged this, by putting handsome L&D arrangements in remuneration packages. Why is it then, that training is often the first budget item to be axed in difficult times? Well, the answer is simple. Because it’s the easy option. Cutting back on training requires no thought or effort and it allows leadership to create redundancies that don’t involve front line personnel. Again, you’re asking – “why is this a problem?”. Seems to be win-win. In reality, it’s one of the most short-sighted decisions that a business will ever make. Look at it as an air conditioning system, here you've got two choices;
Turn the whole thing off, then turn it back on when it starts getting hot;
Or, set the thermostat a little higher and keep it running.
Turning the whole system off and allowing the temperature to build creates a situation in which the system has to work at maximum load for a prolonged period, under huge stress just to try and bring the temperature back under control. It always takes longer than expected, and the increased load ends up increasing your electricity bill. Setting the thermostat higher, but keeping the system running keeps you in control. The temperature never gets beyond where you want it to be, and the system isn’t under stress. Overall costs are lower because the unit was never working to the extreme. While many may not have experience of air-con systems, I’m sure the analogy isn’t lost. By keeping training and development during hard times, we keep everybody in the loop. There’s no catch up to play, and there’s no extreme overload of our system – the people – when business starts picking up again. Keeping your workforce engaged keeps them feeling that there’s a future at their company. Cutting out training is a big demotivator as they worry, “what’s next?” To this end, behavioral change isn’t always just for the front-line staff and workforce at large. Middle, upper, and even C-Suite management must understand that the old ways aren’t tried and tested anymore. We’re in uncharted waters right now, and to navigate safely through them, we must learn to understand the challenges as they exist today, not as they previously were.