Blinkered attitude to training hampering change

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Two thirds of British businesses fail to back up organisational change with proper training and development support for their workers, so vastly increasing the likelihood of long-term failure, new research has suggested.

The success of organisational change in major organisations is jeopardised by a failure to put in place adequate training and development measures, the study by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has concluded.

Just as worrying for the wider economy, the survey has also found that employers fear the economic situation will worsen over the year ahead, with these fears translating into a decline in the funds available for training in many cases, particularly in public sector organisations.

Two thirds of organisations said insufficient training and development was put in place in the wake of organisational change initiatives.

And more than half said the training and development implications of change were simply not thought through.

More than half said the training and development implications of change were simply not thought through
This was despite the fact that separate CIPD research has found that major organisations expect to undergo major restructuring on average every three years, and that 40 per cent of these reorganisations failed to deliver on their objectives.

More than four out of 10 of reorganisations only involved learning and development professionals after all the major decisions have been made or at the final stages of the project, the CIPD found.

A further nine per cent did not involve learning and development professionals at all.

On the plus side, 27 per cent of organisations involved learning and development professionals from the initial planning stages, and in a further 19 per cent of organisations they were brought in at the initial implementation stage.

Jessica Jarvis, CIPD learning and development adviser, said: "Any organisation planning a major reorganisation needs to plan resource issues, from IT implications to office space and furniture.

"But this research shows that many organisations don't pay the same level of attention to managing their human resources.

"Employers that do not equip their staff with the training and development needed to work effectively after a major reorganisation are running the risk of undermining their own objectives," she added.

The survey also showed that twice as many employers believed economic circumstances have got worse for their organisation rather than better during the past 12 months, (41 per cent and 19 per cent respectively).

Since last year there had been a particular decline in the expectations of public sector employers.

In the 2006 survey, 56 per cent of public sector employers expected circumstances to worsen, compared with 42 per cent in 2005.

This gloom was impacting on the funds available for training, with a third of organisations reporting their funds for training had declined in the past 12 months, and only 17 per cent experiencing an increase.

Once again, the public sector was seeing the most marked decline, with 42 per cent of public sector organisations reported a squeeze in training budgets, against 29 per cent in 2005.

Jarvis said: "The public sector is experiencing rapid change, significant reorganisations, and sustained pressure to find efficiency savings. But cutting training budgets at a time when employees need to deal with changing roles and structures is a false economy.

"More generally, although employers are expecting weaker economic conditions CIPD research also shows that recruitment difficulties remain severe and are unlikely to ease significantly.

"Against this background, a reduction in training and development opportunities for existing staff may harm productivity and efforts to retain talented staff," she concluded.

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