Jolly Kochery, CEO, Blue Bell Integrated Facility Services
In today’s fast evolving business world, the most essential aspect of running a sustainable organization is the ability to drive it forward by maximizing the quality of inputs from its employees. Every business, regardless of size, stands to gain most only when its workforce is aligned with company goals and strategy. A herculean part of this strategy involves learning and development, without which a company may find itself stagnating and unable to cope with internal and external environmental pressures.
The concept of learning and development can be described as the act of ensuring that the organization as a whole is dynamic in its procedures and incorporates learning opportunities consistently and at every step of the way. This may vary in forms, occasionally through high potential in-house development schemes, mentoring and buddy schemes, coaching, etc. The key is to find the one that works most effectively within the particular organization and ensure its proper implementation, while still allowing it to be reviewed and updated at regular intervals so it remains relevant. This is where development comes in, even after varied forms of learning; the gained expertise must be nurtured from time to time.
The employees are a direct reflection of performance and hence revenues and this is directly proportional to the company’s time and resource investment in successful learning and development. More often than not, it can be a cost intensive activity and may be easily overlooked. But years of industry experience, especially in the Facility Services market, shows that this is a necessary investment without which uplifted and organization of labour is not possible. It may be looked at as an initial and essential investment that is the basis on which success in this market can be attained. Through the years, it has remained the crux of sustainability and profitable results in this industry.
"The concept of learning and development can be described as the act of ensuring that the organization as a whole is dynamic in its procedures and incorporates learning opportunities consistently and at every step of the way."
It is here that learning and development consultancy steps in. Many organizations integrate this activity as a part of HR activities but statistics say that independent programmes within the organization or external consultancy on the same is likely to get better results, especially when the company, on its own, fails to align these activities with its strategy and both long and short term plans. It is something that must be implemented at the right place and time and is continuous in nature; hence it is not to be taken lightly. In many cases it entails delivering the proper information and teaching skills to the top and mid-level managers who divulge the information to subordinates, which comprises what is commonly referred to as ‘learning on the job’. This certainly is an informal part of learning and development but happens to be the most effective and does require certain programmes to ensure that the right opportunities are ceased when it comes to developing employee skills. Recognizing when a company does not have the in-house capability to develop such programmes or when it is more cost effective to outsource such activities to experts/consultants is a defining managerial moment.
It is of the highest level of importance that the training communicated by the consultancy firms is in a cost effective manner and integrates technology, while ensuring it imparts such training to staff in branches, remote locations, etc. It must be a complete 360-degree model of training, where the entire workforce across geographical barriers can have access. This is crucial if the model is to be truly holistic and produce the desired results, especially in a country like ours.
In an Indian context, learning and development consultancy is a growing industry as more and more organizations realize that this is a grassroots strategy and completely unavoidable in a pragmatic business environment. While the industry growth is picking up in pace, it still is one of the most highly targeted areas when cost cutting comes into the picture. Larger global companies with more resources have already understood and embraced this as an integral part of growth, with a larger influx of such companies within the country, this thinking is likely to trickle down to smaller organizations and contribute to the overall employee effectiveness and satisfaction.
The role learning and development plays have a very obvious impact on company performance and results, but it does also very significantly impact the well-being of the employee. An employee, who is up to date and in synchronization with organizational targets and methods to achieve the same, is likely to perform with a higher degree of quality and effectiveness leading to fewer disappointments to customers and supervisors. This instils confidence and job satisfaction within an employee, something that a trial and error process would not be able to provide. The results are lower rates of employee turnover and fewer costs to the company.
In conclusion, the scope of this industry is very wide and much is still to be explored in terms of methods and execution of good learning and development strategy. Consultancy on the same is only growing more important with many companies already committing to making the necessary investment in this activity. It is only a matter of time before the remaining industry players open their eyes to its unavoidable importance for long term success.