ASTD Economic Survival Guide

Action Plan: Finding Efficiency and Effectiveness With Slimmer Resources

How will your learning department adapt during these difficult economic conditions?  According to ASTD’s State of the Industry report, more than 70 percent of the average number of learning hours per employee is spent in front of a live instructor—how will you support the same level of learning for your organization when travel and other budgets are cut? ASTD has compiled a list of action items to help your learning department be as efficient and effective as possible when you face the possibility of slimmer resources.

Communicate — up and down — and mobilize employees to create a learning culture within your organization. 

To sustain a competitive advantage in today’s knowledge economy, organizations must create a learning culture that supports employee development, a high level of engagement, and opportunities to achieve higher performance. Do the senior leaders in your organization know and believe this? According to a recent ASTD-Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp) study of 603 respondents, learning departments are more prepared to communicate the value of learning to senior-level executives than they were just two years ago. And, learning departments are coming up with more cost-effective ways to educate their employees through informal learning mechanisms. Try some of these approaches:

1. Encourage greater use of informal learning—especially coaching and mentoring programs. You may consider:

2. Make learning opportunities more universally available for everyone in your organization from both topical and delivery perspectives.

  • Offer soft skills training (for example, listening skills or the ability to motivate). These skills will help support a more positive culture and maintain a more solid environment during unstable times
  • Offer more 24/7 accessible learning through your company intranet

3. Retrain employees whose skills are outdated

4. Re-emphasize individual responsibility for learning

5. Don’t stop your leadership development programs that focus on financial and performance goals—your high-potential employees may end up filling open positions in the coming year

6. Keep supervisors and company executives abreast of the learning outcomes. If you can prove that learning is acting as a positive force, it will be less likely to feel the wrath of budget cuts.

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