Gallup surveys paint a pretty bleak picture of higher education institutions giving their staff opportunities to “learn and grow.” The data is from the US, with college and university employees ranking in the bottom quartile, with only 4 in 10 HE employees feeling they’ve had good development opportunities in the year before the survey.
This is not a phenomenon confined to the US. This is a sector issue: in short, higher educational places are far from learning institutions when it comes to their staff.
We’ve discussed before the importance of developing a culture of learning within a place of learning. But management within HE also needs to know how to overcome the unique challenges employees face when it comes to development and training.
Challenge: the Broad Spectrum of Talent
It’s isn’t easy to think of any other sector where the spectrum of skills and talent is quite so broad. Within a higher education environment, you have an extensive range of competencies, from low-skill entry and manual positions through to professors with multiple sets of letters after their name.
On the one hand, you need to consider all employees as a cohesive force. On the other, trying to fit such a broad spectrum of roles and individuals into one learning, development, and performance model is a gigantic task..
Overcome this challenge: Use a single LMS + performance management platform for cohesion but one that allows for authentic personalization.
Challenge: Restrictive Budgets
In the sector of higher education, we’re a world away from the profit-spinning world of business. As such, budgets for learning and development fit the mold of all budgets within HE: they are notoriously tight. When organizational budgets are tight, training is nearly always one of the easiest things to cut because it rarely brings tangible instantaneous rewards.
Overcome this challenge: Use cost-effective solutions that allow you to develop in-house virtual training utilizing the skills and resources you already have. Measure ROI when instigating a new LMS.
Challenge: Not Enough Time
Exacerbated by the challenge of tight budgets, HE organizations are up against the challenge of being time-poor. Individuals employees may well have nearly every hour of their week time-tabled and may only be contracted for termly work when students’ needs take precedence. For development opportunities to happen, they take away from time doing something else.
Overcome this challenge: HE institutions need to develop their own learning culture that respects employees’ needs to develop and grow. In addition, apportion specific time allowances for development.
Challenge: Who is Responsible for Whom?
Within some HE institution areas, it’s possible to implement clear hierarchical reporting structures similar to those you’ll find within business. Here, it’s clear who is responsible for managing each individual’s performance and overseeing their development.
However, within the teaching departments of higher education, hierarchies are rarely so clear-cut. Here, individuals may collaborate, work independently, or have multiple peer reporting relationships. In these situations, who is responsible for each individual’s performance management and training and development needs?
Overcome this challenge: Ensure each individual knows that their professional development is, at least in part, their responsibility, but also provide clear lines for performance management.
Challenge: the Workers Don’t Identify as Learners
In HE, the students are the learners. They are the ones who are being developed. They are the recipients of knowledge and skills.
It’s tough for HE employees to identify themselves as learners – often, they are the teachers. Many haven’t ever been in a business environment where learning is recognized and valued as an essential part of working life. As such, it can be challenging for HE employees to be engaged in learning and development opportunities.
Overcome this challenge: Create and deliver inspirational and multi-media e-learning opportunities that can be accessed conveniently and rewarded.
Universities CAN Learn
It’s in the interests of HE leaders down to the students themselves. Higher education institutions are organizations that value and deliver high-quality training and development for their employees. There are challenges, but they aren’t insurmountable.
Bridge can solve the training and development challenges of higher education bodies. Find out how.