Why Collaboration Is Vital to Corporate Learning Strategy
BREAKING DOWN SILOS IN ENTERPRISE L&D: PART 1
Every enterprise leader understands that learning and professional development (L&D) are the keys to retaining a highly productive workforce. However, implementing programs that support communication and collaboration is now becoming a top-down initiative from the C-suite.
Strategic communication and collaboration are key drivers for developing an effective corporate learning and development strategy that leads to improved business performance and profitability. The leadership team that makes these organizational factors a priority can lead its company to new levels of success.
Here are four ways in which prioritizing collaboration and communication can transform business performance.
1 – Companies That Communicate Have Higher Profitability
Research from Towers Watson shows that companies that have been successful at implementing effective internal communication strategies enjoy up to 47 percent higher total returns to the shareholders than companies without.
Also telling is that Fortune 500 companies lose $31.5 billion each year by failing to share knowledge—according to the market intelligence and advisory firm, International Data Corp—and that makes sense. An organization that can clearly and easily exchange information can make better decisions faster, leading to increased productivity and overall accessibility to information. This scenario has become even more pronounced since the onset of the record quit rates of the Great Resignation, or Great Reshuffle, in early 2021.
Organizations seeking to reap the benefits of increased communication won’t be successful if they simply decide that communicating better is a new trend. For this change to be successful, leadership teams must support the shift by example, communicating clearly and frequently with their own teams and recognizing staff members that follow the example. Leaders must also lead by policy, investing in and implementing a centralized internal communication platform that truly facilitates wide-scale communication and collaboration.
2 – Collaboration Leads to Large- and Small-Scale Synergy
Have you ever discovered after the fact that your team missed a huge opportunity because of a missed call, missed email or someone was out sick from another department? This is a small-scale example of how information silos within an organization prevent asynchronous opportunities from coming together.
“Silos—and the turf wars they enable—devastate organizations. They waste resources, kill productivity, and jeopardize the achievement of goals.”
– Patrick Lencioni, workplace productivity specialist
These missed opportunities and connections between departments may seem like simple inconveniences. However, they also drain the potential you have for new opportunities and breed dysfunction within your workplace.
Over our seven years of surveying L&D leaders across many industries, we have found a steady increase in the collaboration between corporate learning and development departments and line of business leaders. Alignment with the business is one of the most talked about goals in the L&D community. As recently as 2020, 40 percent of survey respondents met with business leads about four times per year to collaborate across departments. But in our 2022 trends survey and report, 40 percent of L&D teams report meeting with business stakeholders monthly, now the most-selected frequency.
Collaboration and communication among small teams, departments and entire companies allow for synergies on many different levels, such as better customer service, shared best practices success stories and lessons learned, as well as innovative brainstorming. But without a centralized and leadership-supported communication infrastructure, employees miss out on these opportunities and often get in each other’s way, leading to even more reduced communication and division over time.
The most successful companies build common ground among departments using universal communication technologies, such as social media, instant messaging platforms or custom-built software. Company values reinforce the use of these technologies through performance reviews and internal processes, which over time formalizes an environment that actually defaults to collaboration and communication.
3 – Access to Information Creates Efficiencies
If one employee takes a course, who benefits? Only that employee, and perhaps her one or two direct reports. But if an employee takes a course and summarizes her findings in a company’s internal communications board, who benefits? Every person who engages with the update.
This small example repeated on a large scale reflects Planview data, which suggests that the average team wastes more than 20 hours per month due to poor collaboration and communication. That’s six workweeks per year that teams are not being productive. Access to information helps your company improve productivity, increase innovation and make every investment in professional development, research or consulting exponentially more valuable.
This captured and shared body of knowledge also has long-term value for your organization. In the face of a constantly shifting global workforce, every data source and employee insight contributes to a vault of insights and data, which can be organized into an informational asset you can use long after an employee moves on from your organization.
4 – Emerging Tech Enables Experiential Learning and Collaboration
The global pandemic upended business as usual and showed the world a new way to work together, even when apart. While some return to office is happening, a hybrid work model is emerging as the dominant model that most employees prefer.
Consider the following statistics on workers, technology and collaboration:
- 83% of employees rely on technology for collaboration.
- ~75% of employees regard collaboration and teamwork as important.
- 60+% of Gen X and Millennials prefer to collaborate more through visual means.
With all this in mind, how are companies supporting the learning and collaboration of a more geographically dispersed workforce? As with previous transformations, the right digital technology and capabilities have emerged to bring people together for meeting, collaboration, training and knowledge sharing.
Mixed reality (MR) technologies, such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), bring a rich, immersive experience to real-world and virtual environments, which allows staff to meet, interact and learn together using any smartphone, tablet or browser. A bigger, more powerful step beyond the Slack type of tool, this virtual hands-on learning both accelerates training and improves employee productivity. It also boosts confidence as learners are able to practice with technologies and scenarios safely before being exposed to them as part of their jobs.
Confidence in emerging technology is showing up across the globe. IDC reports that global spending on AR and VR is forecast to reach $78.4 billion by 2024. Some $4.1 billion of that is expected to go toward training.
If your leadership team cares about productivity and profitability, it should care about communication and collaboration. Start a discussion within your organization about how increasing collaboration and communication can lead directly to increased profits, increased cross-departmental collaboration, and reduced spend in the long-term.
For more actionable intelligence and insights from our survey of L&D leaders, you can download your copy of Proactively Planning, our 2022 L&D Trends Report.