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How Is the Recession Impacting Your Corporate Training?

In our last post, we talked in general how the people at the top of corporations are affected by the economy; but perhaps the most dramatic effect has been on training departments and corporate training in general. Those of you who perused the Bersin Data (Bersin’s Factbook 2010 Overview) can see some hard data on the shrinking training function.

In reading Tony Karrer’s blog, his third prediction for 2010 discusses how more training will have to be done with less resources and people. Sadly, our own research supports this data. In each of our quarterly reviews with our customers and prospects, our account mangers have reported dwindling in-house training departments. On top of this, former client partners hitting our website with resumes and calling our project managers and directors have risen as well.

First to feel the impact is always the training.
Companies still train, but they train less and they train with less people. The impact to learners is immediate: fewer regional trainers are now covering two to three regions. Less training professionals show up and train learners on the new product or new procedure—there’s just less of it to go around. Somehow, trainers are asked to create the same amount of training or more, conduct the training, and track it—all with less.

The efficacy of training will be impacted through potential loss of quality and content, but also through the loss of training frequency. This, in turn, will impact transfer and adoption.

If you are trained less often, if you have fewer resources, if you have an issue with your learning management system and other learning technology and your help desk now has one person instead of five, it will impact your world and how successful you will be at your job.

As we tried to show in our last post, much like a marketing and product development expense, a cutback on training today will have future impact that will be not be easily alleviated when companies (we hope) start ramping up again with training and training personnel. We are aware that our partners are trying to find the golden path—to strike a balance between how far a company can cut back without impacting the potential to create revenue or avoid costly mistakes. But in the case of training department cutbacks, the blow on our partners’ internal resources (i.e. employees) will be felt immediately. Especially if employees feel motivation is driven by the fear of losing a job or the relief of having a job.

Lack of proper corporate training could affect how learners feel about their job, their ability to be successful at their jobs, and even their ability to feel they are progressing in their jobs. Even in these hard economic times, progressing is a strong motivator for learners, employees feeling they are not progressing could impact your company in ways you hadn’t considered. For more on this topic, read the Harvard Business Review on some forces that motivate learners.