An article in Chief Learning Officer’s online newsletter caught my eye. It was titled “Cease Fire in the War for Talent”. The overall gist of the article was that companies are shifting priority from talent management to more immediate needs like reducing costs. It cites a survey conducted by Personnel Decisions International (completed in January 2009) in which company leaders were asked to rank their top business challenges. The pressure to cut costs was number one.
This isn’t surprising in the current economic climate, of course, but what does this mean for learning professionals?
In that same article, CLO’s own study about learning budgets (2009 Business Intelligence Industry Report) reflects input from executives in learning positions that budgets will be tighter and that offerings will be “more aligned to company business objectives”.
What that says to me is that learning leaders, instead of just being caught in the crunch of cost cuts themselves, need to take some quick action to have an impact on cost management throughout the company.
Here are two ways HR can impact the bottom line:
- Lead the Charge in Employee Communication - HR should lead the charge around clear and constant communication with employees about cost management issues.That means making sure that everyone knows what’s happening, why it’s happening and what it means for departments and individuals. Keeping employees engaged and informed — especially in times of cost cutting– is critical to productivity and morale.
- Develop Employee Business Acumen – Most employees want to be part of the solution to ensure the company’s financial stability. But, if they don’t know how to impact the business or where they can contribute, they’ll be part of the problem. Education that reaches as many people as possible around the “business of the business” — its financial drivers, marketplace realities and cost control opportunities at all levels– is an important way that HR can align its own efforts to the company’s objectives.
And, the best part is that both of these ideas can also have a big impact on talent engagement and retention. Employees who know what’s going on and who feel involved and empowered to be part of the company’s strategic direction are more likely to stay around for the long haul. And that means that HR, while dealing with the “immediate” need to align with short-term company objectives,will also be able to keep focused on the longer-term objective of talent management.