Throughout history, we have seen that those who survive are the ones that appropriately respond to the changing variables in the external environment:
- When Henry Ford invented the Model T car in 1908, he intended for it to make transportation affordable for the common man. To lower the price of the car, Ford realized that he would have to find a way to build them more efficiently. This resulted in the first moving assembly line for the mass production of the automobile in 1913. As a result of his innovation, the time taken to build a car drastically reduced from 12 hours to 150 minutes. From here, spun the assembly line revolution, essentially increasing productivity in factories across the globe.
- Research conducted at Hawthorne Works by Henry A. Lansberger in 1958 gave birth to the Hawthorne effect, a conclusion that individuals modify an aspect of their behavior in response to the awareness of being observed. The study propounded that increased attention could lead to temporary increase in employee productivity. Since then, organizations have spent significant effort in finding various means of increasing employee engagement, from changes in infrastructure to rewards and everything in between.
- The Global Financial Crisis of 2008 propelled organizations to cut down their costs and do more with less. As a result, this trend of in-house learning teams and initiatives became popular. Riding the coat tail of this disruption, most organizations today have full-fledged L&D teams who provide end-to-end learning services to the organization.
These three examples played a significant role in the constructs of modern HR and L&D teams. They also show that change is constant. The moment things stop changing is when we’re headed for extinction. To keep business thriving, this is especially true for the L&D teams within the organization. After all, they play a crucial role in the development and empowerment of people.
Unfortunately, historical data also indicates that the L&D function has been the slowest to respond to change. In a day and age that is strife with rapid change, there are 2 crucial roles that L&D teams play:
- To develop the workforce to meet and manage the demands of business in the digital age
- Shift their own mindsets and capabilities to better empower their people
Speed is of great importance today. Therefore, achieving both objectives simultaneously and at an accelerated pace is nearly impossible for L&D teams.
The business has certain expectations and learners have specific needs. Add to that the changes required in L&D team structures, processes, roles, systems, expectations and responsibilities, and you’re left with nothing more than a recipe for disaster. There are simply too many variables for L&S to manage and overcome.
Therefore, in the new scheme of things, it is in the best interest of L&D teams, learners and business alike to outsource L&D, either in parts or in entirety. We list out here five strategic reasons why outsourcing L&D could be the key to advancing organizational growth.
Five Strategic reasons for outsourcing L&D
1. A fresh perspective
It is often difficult to objectively analyze the gaps and changes required for something when you are knee deep in it. Knowing that something needs to change, but not knowing what or how to go about implementing the change or bridging the gap often reduces productivity – you’re straggling the line between what is and what could be, like a tortured soul.
Allowing a consultant to come in, analyze your business and tell you how to fix it is a step in the right direction. Many are apprehensive or even defensive about taking this step. But don’t forget – a consultant can only list observations and make suggestions. Whether you implement these suggestions, or how much of it you implement is still entirely under your control.
2. Meeting global standards
Every organization dreams of becoming a Google, an Amazon, an Apple, an Uber, an Airbnb or another such organization that is revered as aspirational. Employees want to work for these organizations, and the cream of the crop often do. Why should you lose out on a world-class organization with a coveted workforce?
The truth is that organizations, leaders, and employees are competing in a global market today, one that transcends industries, domains, geographies, and other demographics. Therefore, skill development, capability building, behavioral changes, and mindset shifts must be held to a higher standard. In other words, your L&D practices must allow your organization, your leaders and your employees to efficiently and successfully compete at the global level.
Learning partners are best equipped to help you because of the world with organizations across industries and/or geographies. As such, they are not just aware of market standards, they also have the market intelligence to guide you on your journey to superseding these standards.
3. Leveraging experts to create your perfect solution
For over a decade, in-house L&D teams have worked towards creating a complex infrastructure of learning programs. While this infrastructure has catered to the development of every fathomable technical, domain-related, behavioral and leadership skill, it has taken a decade in the making to reach this stage.
The skills developed have focused primarily on what business has required from employees. Furthermore, the L&D initiatives have been relatively homogenous in their approach – predominantly in-classroom and face-to-face.
The reality of the digital age is that:
- Learner needs have become diverse
- In-house L&D teams lack technological expertise
- Current L&D practices do not cater to large scale rollouts
- Budget and time constraints continue to exist, possibly greater now than ever before
Any expert will tell you that building systems to combat these challenges are expensive and time-consuming, the luxury of neither which is currently affordable. So, why not leave it to the experts? They have already spent the time and money to build these systems, developed the expertise and deliver positive value, which their customers can vouch for and swear by.
4. Building Integrated assessment and learning systems
In the last few years, organizations have invested in learning management systems (LMS) to leverage eLearning modules and provide employees with an extensive directory of courses for self-learning. Unfortunately, although done with good intent, the execution of this goal has been fragmented.
What does this mean?
While LMSes are used for eLearning, organizations still focus on classroom-based learning for a significant part of their interventions. This mode of learning is often online and untraceable – no data on:
Often, these two modes of learning are also managed by different teams.
Then, there is the question of assessments. Assessments are important to the learning and development process. A study by the KNOLSKAPE Insights Centre highlighted that a significant number of organizations deploy talent assessment solutions only at the middle to senior levels. The intent has almost always been for recruitment and succession planning.
They do not account for:
- Identifying top talent across all levels of the organization,
- Identifying training needs, and
- Judging the efficacy of the tools used for assessment
As a result, the assessment goals and learning objectives rarely converge. However, learning efforts are most impactful when they are supported by assessments for learning.
Assessments for learning are pertinent for the identification of strengths and gap analysis, from which employee development plans can be created. This analysis becomes the basis of developing employees. This systematic approach poses greater achievement of business as well as learner goals.
Learn more about the strengths of integrated talent development initiatives. Read the full report.
5. Self-development for L&D
As stated earlier, the digital age demands significant changes in mindset and capabilities of the L&D team itself. In outsourcing learning and development initiatives, learning professionals within the organization are responsible for liaising with partners. Through this interaction with the experts, L&D teams are presented with ample opportunities to:
- Develop their own skills and mindset
- Learn about the latest trends, inventions, and benchmarks
- Uncover the shifts needed to empower employees to meet business objectives and deliver valuable business outcomes
It is no longer going to be enough to get a seat at the table. The CHROs of tomorrow need to lead the business change. This is a tall order when HR and L&D teams are not yet part of the decision-making process. There is a sense of urgency with which L&D teams must shift the way they work.
Business models and strategies are undergoing changes to meet the demands of the larger environment. People are crucial to execute these strategies and fulfill the organization’s goal, and the L&D teams are responsible for the talent development strategies of the organization.
Therefore, to effectively support the organization without compromising on learner needs or vice versa, L&D professionals need to first help themselves. Then, take a step back from their traditional ways of functioning to find ways that will complement the demands of the current business landscape. Most often, the new way of working would include a partner who can help fill the gaps and strengthen your learning and development systems.
[su_label]About the Author[/su_label]
[su_note note_color=”#C2BFB4″ radius=”4″]Swati is an experienced product marketing manager and behavioral facilitator at KNOLSKAPE with a demonstrated history of communicating value and influencing decision making. Skilled in Marketing, Communication, Behavioral Facilitation, Customer Centricity and Management[/su_note]