Learning and Development departments could be the key to solving the UK’s productivity problem, according to research from Knowledgepool, Capita’s learning solutions business.
The study shows that more than three quarters (85 per cent) of business line managers believe that Learning and Development (L&D) is best placed to take ownership for workforce productivity. 79 per cent of L&D professionals agree that that they are the rightful “owners” of productivity. A total of 113 L&D decision-makers and 102 line managers at businesses with at least 100 staff and a dedicated L&D function were consulted for the white paper, entitled L&D: Agents of Productivity.
The findings come as British businesses struggle to increase their workforce output. 82 per cent of business managers say that improving productivity is currently proving to be a challenge for their organisations and 96 per cent regard this as an organisational priority over the next 12 months.
Recent ONS (Office for National Statistics) figures showed that UK productivity growth is still lower than it was before the financial crisis in 2008.
The study finds that ownership of productivity as a strategic business priority is currently spread across different business functions, with little consistency across organisations. Most often responsibility resides with the CEO or senior leadership team, but elsewhere productivity is owned by the HR Director, the Finance Director or the IT Director.
However, a large majority of both business managers (85 per cent) and L&D professionals themselves (84 per cent) see a clear link between skills and productivity and therefore believe that L&D should take responsibility for addressing the challenge.
The research suggests that this shift is already underway. More than half (59 per cent) of L&D professionals report that they are already tasked with improving productivity, whilst a further 28 per cent are increasingly being asked to do so. Another nine per cent expect to be given some responsibility for driving workforce output in the next 12 months.
“With extensive internal and external networks, a solid understanding of people (engagement, motivation, learning) and a hunger for driving change, it makes sense for L&D to take responsibility for driving workforce productivity,” commented Dan Ferrandino, managing director at Knowledgepool. “It’s a huge step change from traditional L&D roles but a career-defining opportunity for practitioners to tackle one of the biggest strategic imperatives in business today. The research shows that Chief Productivity Officers could well emerge over the next five years – that’s a pretty exciting future for anyone building a career in L&D today.”