Boosting sustainability and competitiveness of a software company, relying on the learning and talent development initiatives. Case study on the example of Unify.
Section 1. Introduction to the management report
In today’s highly competitive and rivalrous world the boost of the competitiveness of any company is regarded as more than a necessity; also, the ability to provide one’s staff with well-managed and well-run Learning and Talent development initiatives is usually considered as a top priority. Basically, talent development stands for the notion of bringing together in consolidated technology platforms the whole process from recruitment to assessment (Oakes, 2006). Therefore, the aim of the current report is to highlight the most important parts of Learning and Talent Development Planning in Unify – company relying on the technically-skilled workforce, having offices in many countries around the world, including Eastern Europe.
As shown by Kim and McLean (2012) most organizations ‘managers look at the learning and talent development initiatives as core for the success of their companies. Hence, nowadays companies need to form strategies so as to capture and intensify talent. Also, the investment in learning and talent development initiatives has often been thought of as a means of competitive advantage (Garavan et all, 2012). As Cook and Macaulay (2009) state talent could mean anything that an organization want it to mean and represent; in short, it is the understanding of talent that points at which group of employees will and need to be developed. In turn, it is the organizations that use as focal point the development of all kinds of employees that will obtain the optimum benefits from their talent development strategies (Cook and Macaulay, 2009).
As such the basic issues that will be considered via the means of learning and development techniques are the following:
1. More than half of the software designers need to have worked for a longer than 5 years ‘period for the company. Hence, Unify need to invest in their development in order to aspire for the organization strategic development. Via doing this, their different needs, styles of learning, and present work patterns will be considered.
2. Unify software designers need to be apt to do their work and do not show signs of burn out. Especially, one of the ways for doing this is to improve the work atmosphere and to look for workforce ready stay active in constant learning and skills development activities (Dries et all, 2012).
3. The cost of the designers ‘time spend on training should be accounted for in the “local training budgets”; namely, the present suggests that the amount of funds designed for the training of the selected group of employees need to be taken account of.
4. Outstanding reputation for customer service need to be attained. According to Pruis (2011) in the long-term this will supply the company with the significant advantages they are in need of. In case the talent development has as its focal point only the superior staff as the managers, or only certain departments then its employees ‘skills will definitely suffer.
Section 2. Short-term Learning and Talent Development Plan
Unify is a large-sized enterprise that has grown over 10 years to having staff of 1000 people, situated at different countries around the world. Its main business activity is the provision of specific, designed on purpose software solutions. As seen from the previous section the problems of the company, focus mainly on the:
- Professional burn-out;
- Staff turnover;
- Inadequate customer care.
In compliance with Unify present situation several learning and talent development initiatives could be undertaken so as to assure the proper process of recruitment, process and management. Additionally, attention should be paid to return on investment of the planned initiatives and the cost: benefit ratio; for example, e-learning initiatives are relatively cheap as many of the resources have free access on special webinars and virtual class rooms, so their cost: benefit ratio will be positive for Unify. Another important feature is the spending on training as proportion of profit, so considerably inexpensive methods as well as costly ones as coaching will be used.
The following initiatives could be undertaken for the outgoing period of 4-5 months.
1. Software designers need to undergo training so as to boost their own skills and learn how to evade the burn-out symptoms. Also, Unify regards trainings as cost-effective option as they allow to be easily planned during the working week and the workforce finds it generally convenient to visit the classes (Clifford and Thorpe, 2007). Not only that but also managers find them suitable, as they can choose from wide variety and accustom it to the Unify needs as a company. Training for adoption of new designer skills would ideally take place for one and a half weeks.
2. Individual learning designed to help employees avoid the symptoms of professional burn-out. After a break of one week from the training sessions, the Unify software designers should start to visit the individual learning course; two methods will be predominant, namely the e-learning and mentoring. Again it has been shown by Clifford and Thorpe (2007) that the sole and independent from one another learning methods are appropriate as they are suited to the personal needs of the employee, as well as are relevantly cheap as they adopt inward company resources. Via the e-learning platforms, provided for free, employees choose from a variety of case studies regarding the burn-out; in addition, this system helps the employees develop skills for selecting the exact content. However, the mentoring activities in Unify need to be conducted by a mentor ready to share his knowledge about the burn-out with the employees. Indeed, the mentor can even be a co-worker, or a supervisor which makes him familiar with the situation in the company itself.
3. Improving employee’s performance and customer service via coaching. The technique is basically in order to ameliorate the customer service provided by the software designers to the different project contractors. For example, Unify could hire outside contractor company to support its employees during their progress. Indeed, the coaching training could last for about 3-4 months when significant results will be visible. Regarding the financial part of the talent development initiative it is £ 70 per hour, approximately 10 hours per employee makes £ 700. However, the return on that investment will be evident from the highly-professional results being achieved.
However, Unify is heading towards initiatives mainly a combination between on-the-job training and in-house development programs in relation to the novelties in software design; relatively cheap methods designed to ameliorate the inner company atmosphere and to enable employees work in team. As stated by Neal and Sonsino (2012) in every organization there exist great number of unused talent; the latter could be engaged in effective talent development initiatives giving birth to the new ideas in any company. In general, the most frequently used methods will be the ones considered most effective in regard to demanding notable levels of creativity and flexible working time, inherent to the software designers of Unify company.
Also, the e-learning methods are most often used for particular types of training data protection and technology training. Unify need to use:
- Online virtual learning and
- Webinars, or also called virtual classrooms; the latter vary from £ 70 per hour plus 19% VAT. The positive is that the employee might choose the content that he is unfamiliar with and in this way save money for the company.
In regard to the talent management initiatives, except coaching Unify could successfully adopt the practices of:
- 360-degree feedback, allowing feedback from employees on part of the training provided;
- Cross-functional project assignments, allowing cooperation between the different departments;
- Assessment and development centers, all designed to evaluate the results of the learning and talent development initiatives.
To sum up, for each employee are provided ten hours of e-learning in the form of webinars, additional 7 hours of mentoring and basic 10 hours of coaching in the short-term. Noteworthy is the fact that the time spent in re-work as a result of inadequate skills will cost Unify significantly more than the amount spend on training.