Why Human Capital Management & Why Now?
I’m passionate about human capital and focused on helping people and organizations perform better. Finding quantifiable results from education and training initiatives is challenging. As vice president of client services at Capital Analytics, Inc., an affiliate of The Human Capital Lab, it’s something I tackle daily trying to improve organizational and business performance.
I’m intrigued by the concept of “Learning Transfer” – looking at what happens after a learning intervention occurs. I hope to make it the focus of my doctoral thesis work.
When a student goes to class and the training is completed, what ensures the new knowledge they acquire will be applied when they get back to the job? What are the factors that inhibit as well as enhance the application of that learning? We know that achieving the desired impact, in part, depends on the individual’s manager setting good, specific expectations up front, and helping provide the right environment to apply what is learned once the intervention is completed. If organizations could quantify the value of the manager’s role, they would be likely to specifically address that role in their learning strategies.
Alignment is the key. So often, organizations don’t have course objectives aligned with performance outcomes or business results. Training needs to add value and to do that, its objectives must be specific and measurable. Without intentional alignment right up front, it will be hard for training to deliver those business results.
Throughout my career in human capital, I’ve been careful to build in systems to collect data and measure quantifiable results. It’s all about people and processes – improving workplace performance and measuring the results. Specific goals must be defined, have training aligned with them, and have measurable results to enable business and organizational leaders make informed decisions.
Today’s tighter economic climate demands that business leaders know if expenditures for training or education really help. If performance improves, they want to know if it was the training that made the difference or if the employee just happened to be a good performer who would have done well regardless.
Developing human capital can be complex. For example, when is the optimum time for a specific intervention? Training a new employee may be too soon, while the same training for an employee who has been with a company three years may be too late. For national or global companies, the same training program that works well in one region may not be as effective in another region. These are the types of questions that need to be asked – and answered.
Human capital is a true business resource that can be managed and optimized. We need to show the business world that there is a science behind it and it can be measured. All businesses want measurable results. As the U.S. has moved away from manufacturing and become increasingly service-based, expenditures are in people rather than plant and equipment.
Business leaders want to know what is working and what is not, so they can focus on what works, whether it is employee training and development or expenditures in tuition reimbursement, internship programs, social networking, etc. Knowing an organization’s culture and understanding its business model help to contextualize the knowledge and assessment process. To measure impact, we need to know how businesses measure themselves.
At the end of the day, I want to provide corporate decision makers with “actionable information” – data and proof showing how well an investment in training or other employee education intervention is working so future investment decisions can be made with confidence.
Vice President of Client Services
Capital Analytics, Inc.
Learn more about Bonnie Beresford and her work at Capital Analytics, Inc.