A recent study by the New Hampshire-based learning solutions provider Skillsoft and the polling firm Opinion Matters found that 90% of CEOs “will either maintain or increase their training budgets” over the next year. The survey gauged the opinions of CEOs at companies with more than 250 employees in 13 business categories.
What are a CEO’s biggest priorities when engaging in worker training? Besides faster results (more on that in a moment), Skillsoft offered the following data:
• 93% of CEOs expect they will either maintain or increase their training budgets next year.
• 61% of business leaders say they have a mobile learning strategy ready to go.
• 24% say they will “embrace” mobile learning in the near future.
• 42% say the length of training or learning course was a “more important deciding factor than its content.”
• Just 13% see cost as their most “important consideration.”
Skillsoft said that CEOs see training as a necessity and not a luxury, but only if company training programs lead to faster, more effective results.
“This research shows that business leaders increasingly appreciate the value of learning,” explained Kevin Young, managing director at Skillsoft. “However, while training budgets themselves are not being cut, the time businesses have available to undertake training sessions is clearly shrinking.”
Young said that CEOs want leaner training programs that allow staffers to get started, absorb useful learning experiences and hit the ground running with that knowledge right away.
“Courses need to be more succinct and to-the-point than ever, delivered in highly relevant, bite-sized pieces,” he added. “Cost may not be a priority for the CEO, but it will and should matter to the Training and Development team, and need to set the standard in cost-effective learning with a measurable ROI.”
The Skillsoft study reported that CEOs “prefer shorter courses” that enable staffers stay productive and effective on the job even as they receive outside training.
That’s what C-level managers at Modea recently accomplished. The Blacksburg, Va.-based digital advertising firm wanted a faster onboarding process for new employees to get them acclimated to the company’s client interaction model, which emphasizes team-based project management and quick, on-the-spot decision making.
The firm opted for a 12-hour training program that focused heavily on interaction not only between new staffers and current team members, but also with executives posing as advertising clients. The session ended with a mock “pitch” by new employees to the firm’s C-level executives – an ambitious effort for new employees, but one that company cofounder Aaron Harrington called more “efficient” for his fast-growing company.
To adopt that type of thinking and streamline your training programs, C-level managers should take the following steps:
? Focus on your firm’s big-picture message to establish optimal employee retention.
? Encourage activity-based training in collaboration with seasoned team members.
? Make the session more hands on. Asking questions should be mandatory.
? Focus on the “three Cs” with your presentation materials: They should be clear, concise and compelling.
? Make sure your employees are issued steady feedback during training.
? Make it competitive –- offer incentives for employees who score the best, such as a gift card or a day off.
No doubt, the stakes are high for C-level managers tasked with managing the company training budget. According to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), U.S. firms spend $1,067 per employee (about 2.7% of the entire staffing budget) to provide employees with an average of 32 hours of training programs annually.
To hear Skillsoft tell it, it’s not the spending that CEOs object to; it’s all those hours staffers are spending away from the workplace. But if training programs evolve the way executives are currently expecting and demanding, those hours won’t climb so high in 2013.
This could really change the way we work, and rightly so, who has time for a 5 day training course these days? Challenging stuff.