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Home > News > September 2005 > 26-Sep-2005

Study looks at direction of learning and performance management

Bersin & Associates have recently completed a nine-month study on the direction of learning and performance management.

The US based research and advisory firm said the study identifies a clear trend toward the increased demand for performance management systems, relatively new software applications designed to identify and develop employee skills and competencies.

Bersin & Associates said that the research also indicates demand for the integration of performance management and learning management technologies, and that such integration forms the basis of an overall talent management system.

According to Josh Bersin, president of Bersin & Associates, the adoption and integration of these new applications will reduce the cost and time involved in completing and managing employee performance reviews, facilitate regulatory compliance, correlate training investments with top-priority skills and competencies, and give organisations the ability to assess available employee skills and cultivate new ones

"Our research is forecasting the adoption of integrated solutions which span corporate training and HR functions related to employee development. We believe that most organisations will use their learning management systems infrastructure as a foundation for these solutions," said Bersin.

"While organisations have long been interested in the theory of talent management, it’s not been practical to implement. Today we see the confluence of several major market drivers, along with the availability of cost-efficient technology and integration capability, which makes now the right time for this new category."

An aging workforce population, highly decentralised organisations, business expansion, and a results-focused business climate are among the drivers cited by Bersin. "Whether you have to prepare for the replacement of an experienced plant maintenance manager or quickly assemble a team of employees to handle a corporate emergency – such as the renovation of a facility destroyed by a hurricane, you need the ability to quickly assess available skills and identify those that are missing or underdeveloped. Without technology, this is virtually impossible for organisations with more than several hundred employees."

Bersin & Associates said that the report, ‘Convergence of learning and performance management: has talent management arrived?’, is based on surveys of 553 organisations with an average employee population of 15,100.

Data showed that the top four priorities for HR managers today are performance management, skills and competency management, succession planning, and learning management. At the same time, responses indicate that HR managers believe they have the least amount of expertise in these four functional areas.

According to the research, only 35% of organisations have any type of automated performance management system and 58% rely on paper based processes. A significant majority – 68% -- of respondents indicated that integration of learning and HR systems is critical or important to their organisations.

Larry Israelite, director of strategic learning for Pitney Bowes, Inc, said: "With increased pressures to perform and demonstrate tangible business results, the importance of the employee development process is more pronounced. We’re all facing questions such as ‘who has the capabilities to fill this critical job opening?’ and ‘what learning resources are available to address specific performance development needs?’.

"In order to answer these kinds of questions, it’s essential to have performance and learning systems that talk to each other. The goal is to have a continuous stream of activities and information from competency assessment to identification of development needs to specific training."

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