Five Reasons Why Training and HR Must Work More Closely Together

Five Reasons Why Training and HR Must Work More Closely Together

The times, they are a’changing. Training and HR used to operate as separate functions, related only because they both dealt with people. In average companies, it is still this way. In a recent informal survey we conducted, 65 percent of the 49 respondents chose “strongly agree” or “agree” to this statement: “In our organization, training and HR operate in separate silos.” On the other hand, we are noticing among leading-edge organizations that training and HR are working more closely together. Here’s why.

1. Sharing Issues
If a company wishes to attract and retain employees by offering learning experiences that lead to career growth, is that an HR issue because it involves retention or a training issue because it involves learning?

Important employee and talent management issues require support and coordination from both training and HR.

2. Technology Overlap
Learning management systems have been adding more human resources features, such as competency management. Human resources software, meanwhile, has been building in LMS functionality. However, in our recent survey, 44 percent of the 43 respondents chose “disagree” or “strongly disagree” to this statement: “In our company, when selecting technology, our training organization considers HR-related functionality.” Training and HR professionals need to sit side-by-side nowadays when they review new software. We track more than 100 LMS systems and 35 human resource systems, and the overlap of features is increasing.

Notice the parallel with CRM more than a decade ago. New software to automate marketing, customer service and sales force automation resulted in purchases of overlapping features, such as a database of customers, gaps in capability and software the users had to bolt together themselves. Enter Siebel Systems with a single-point solution that addressed all of the issues, and where the whole was greater than the sum of the parts. This overall software system not only created a successful company (acquired last year by Oracle), but a new way of thinking cross-functionally.

3. More Than Instruction
Organizations are being faced with bigger workforce challenges and will demand more from the training department. Some are already asking, “How can you help us attract the best employees? How can you help us keep our best talent? How can employees best locate expertise within the company? How can our employees learn to better compete worldwide? How can you help our employees be more innovative? How can employees better understand our business?” Organizations will be asking less, “Can you develop and deliver some training for us?” These bigger issues require coordination between training and human resources.

4. Competencies, Certifications and Career Advancement
Younger employees are learning every day and expect to continue much on their own. They navigate and filter rivers of information on the Internet. They find information, people and communities at will.

Rather than looking to someone to construct learning content for them, they will be much more interested in how what they learn will affect their opportunities and careers. They will want us to give them a pathway to a promotion, not a class. Training professionals will need to work with HR to connect learning to careers.

5. Narrow Focus
CLOs are leaders with the mandate to discover and create new ways to meet the business needs of the organization. This means expansion in at least three areas. First, focus on performance as the issue, not on training as the standard solution. Second, experiment with bold new ways for employees to access information and knowledge. The incoming generation of workers is used to instant information on cell phones, finding whatever is needed via the Web and interacting in online social networks. We cannot limit this group’s learning by offering only packaged classes. Third, CLOs must break down the separate silos of training and HR and lead the way in developing processes and adopting software that bridge the gap between the two.

Brandon Hall, Ph.D., is CEO of Brandon Hall Research, publisher of the new study, “Emerging E-Learning: New Approaches to Delivering Engaging Online Learning Content.” He can be reached at