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To gain findings for the Emergenetics Industry Insights Survey, we surveyed more than 150 professionals from all levels and industries, to gain access to the brightest minds in training and development and talent management.

Every organization faces both unique and not-so-unique challenges on a daily basis. Overcoming many of these challenges—especially in areas like Management, HR, and Learning and Development—relies on understanding.

Rating the Challenge: Does leadership link training and development to organizational culture and business priorities?

An organization’s leadership and culture go hand in hand. It is an undeniable link that makes it difficult to understand how team cultural development initiatives seem, at times, under-prioritized. After all, leaders determine both culture and resource allocation. Our earlier findings have clearly indicated the importance of organizational culture elements like communication in the workplace, functionality, and effective leadership. However, for organizations to truly utilize the benefits of understanding their employees’ thinking and behavioral preferences, leadership must also realize how this knowledge and approach shapes their organizational culture and ultimately accomplishing their business priorities.

The results of our survey, however, were telling—there is still a difficulty for HR and the Learning and Development field to connect training with organizational culture in the minds of an organization’s leaders. Almost 43% of respondents found it either Challenging or Extremely Challenging to demonstrate the link that exists between them. This response shows that there is a major discrepancy between what the organization’s culture actually is and what it appears to be.

An additional 29% of respondents stated that making this link between organization leaders and culture is mutually exclusive or neutral as a challenge. Does this mean that executive leadership is pushing forward some training initiatives and ignoring others? That most organization leaders are ambivalent to training and development? Or perhaps that HR lacks the readiness or understanding to make a compelling case to executive leadership? More information is needed, but we found it very interesting that only 28% of respondents felt their executives got the link between training and culture. For this 28%, their leadership realized how imperative it is for organizations moving forward to focus on culture as a way to attract and retain the best workers.

Training and Development and Business Initiatives:

Creating a high-level understanding of the benefits of training and development to producing the ideal bottom-line business goals met with similar difficulty. Resistance was found by 39% of respondents, who found it to be either Challenging or Extremely Challenging to find the link between training and development and the accomplishment of business priorities. Again, this trend, unfortunately, means that it is increasingly difficult to demonstrate how beneficial employee development can be, since two-thirds of respondents encountered either resistance or indifference to the benefits that investment in human capital training can provide to an organization.

With this kind of data, one would think that there actually may not be a strong tie between employee training and business success, but that’s just the opposite. Research from the Society for Human Resource Management clearly shows the importance of investment in staff in today’s volatile and innovation-based economy by saying “Intellectual capital has become a critical factor for competitive advantage.”

Having an empowered, knowledgeable, and engaged workforce is fundamental in responding quickly to market changes, adapting to new requirements, and fostering team innovation. Why then the resistance stated by survey respondents, who represent a wide range of large organizations in diverse industries? A mere 34% of those who responded found that management was either helpful or not a hindrance in training their workforce to tackle business initiatives and priorities. Only 11% said that it was not at all challenging for organizational leadership to see training and development as a boon to business.

This demands a call to action on two sides of the argument—the first from the majority of companies who struggle to connect training with organizational culture and the bottom line and, second from the small group of companies who can connect these elements. Those forward-thinking firms who invest in people to develop an organizational culture of empowerment and engagement will see results. In turn, these workers will be quicker to respond to change and to take ownership of their organizational responsibilities. This positive productivity cycle creates stronger businesses, and thus ties training into the bottom line business goal.

This easier said than done and ultimately, it is the responsibility of training and development leaders to educate executives on why these issues should be important to them. The connection between organizational culture and business initiatives to employees will only become more important as we progress into the future of management.


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