Learning and Talent Development: How to spend that scarce cash really well

Take Away Line

When learning and development budgets are under strain, every £, € or $ has to show its worth. There are signs in some quarters that spend in this area is beginning to rise again. Slowly. Greater impact for the available cash can be had by paying more attention to the precise learning needs of your people and by focussing on the best methods of meeting those needs.

What’s your L&D budget?

OK, so you’ve got £350 a year to spend on each employee, equating on average, according to CIPD’s 2011 Learning and Talent Development Survey (as reported in Personnel Management 5/11), to 5 days’ training per employee per year. That of course may be the average across the UK, so you may have more or less than that in practice, but the question remains: how should you spend it wisely?

Another recent survey found that 6 out of 10 organisations across the EU don’t have people policies in place worthy of the name. So, the shock news is that most work organisations would struggle to give a proper response to this vital investment question.

For those organisations that have talent management activities in place, this is also a pertinent question, since only half of them see their activities as effective, according to the same CIPD research Of course, the spending of this money is ‘lumpy’ both between and within organisations. Most of it, for example, seems to be spent on ‘high potential’ employees and to managers.

Wise L&D investment

However much budget you have, the CIPD research provides some pointers for spending it wisely:

1. Focus on the key skill gaps. Way above the rest, three key skill gaps emerge in the research:

  • Performance management
  • Leading and managing change
  • Leading people and people management

2. Use the most effective learning and development practices: in-house development programmes and coaching by line managers are seen as the most effective, followed by on-job training and job rotation, secondments, etc. The ever popular conferences and other events are, interestingly, viewed as one of the most least effective learning and development methods

In our work at transform, we focus our in-house interventions on the importance of developing leadership in context: helping to develop collective leadership capacity in order to foster the changes in culture and focus that client organisations urgently need.

L&D budgets on the rise in some sectors

And the good news for employees and learning and development professionals alike is that in the private and voluntary sectors, annual spend is set to increase or stay the same in most organisations. Sadly, however, this is not yet the case with the vast majority of public sector organisations which are due to scale back their people investment in these areas.

So, now really is a good time to think harder about how to make the most of those few extra £, € & $.

Debating points

1. How does your learning and talent development spend compare with the average?
2. How do you determine how it’s spent?
3. What learning and development methods do you find have greatest impact?
4. Could anything be done to get from ‘bang for your buck’?

Take our Poll


About transformingtales

What you do is what you do, isn't it? Nothing special there. What I do is work mainly with civil society organisations, but also some public and corporate sector outfits, to help them change. For the better. For good. If you provide a list of the things you do, the services you offer, like strategic planning, leadership development, corporate governance, culture change and performance management, they are just words. And tricky sounding words too that put you off and imply more questions than they answer. So, this blog is about the stories, the joys and the woes of making tranformative change happen (on a good day) and when and why it doesn't (on a bad day). And it's dedicated to my daughter who asked the question a few years ago: 'What do you do again, Dad?'
Gallery | This entry was posted in Consulting, Employee engagement, Leadership, Leadership development, Talent development and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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