Blue Eskimo

Linking learning strategy to recruitment

For organisations to get the most benefit from learning and recruitment, the two activities should be interwoven.

It’s not unusual for two organisational departments which should work together closely to be less cooperative than is beneficial. A class example of this would be the sales and marketing departments – sometimes they work together well, sometimes they don’t always let each other know what they’re doing and, more than is healthy, there’s an antipathy between the two (not unlike that which exists between cats and dogs).

Two departments which benefit from working together are recruitment/HR and L&D. Why? They’re often both solving the same problems – but in different ways and with different remits.

Simply put, recruitment/HR departments acquire skills by hiring; L&D departments acquire skills by training people. But the goal is the same – filling a skills gap.

The question is far bigger than ‘do we hire or train?’ When operating independently, these two departments can only move forward one job/person at a time – or one project at a time, or one department at a time.

Really, these departments should be moving the entire organisation forward. Ah, now I’m sure that there’s a dissenting voice in your head: “But we do think about the entire organisation!”

Unless you’re working together, there’s a limit to just how true that statement can be – the two departments may each be thinking about the whole organisation, but only within the limits of their specific remits.

So, the recruitment team is tasked with finding a new person for a specific department. Off it goes to recruit someone (this is its remit and nature). Yet the L&D department is already aware of someone who could do the job – it just so happens that this person doesn’t yet have quite the skills. But, with a little training (possibly taking less time than recruiting someone new) that person could be ready to roll. The L&D department knows this, because they have data on that person’s skills and learning path. The recruitment/HR department doesn’t know this because the two departments don’t share data in a meaningful way.

Yes, this does leave a role empty – but that’s fine. The organisation can either train someone for that role, or the recruitment department can do its stuff.

Or, it could be that the L&D department identifies some areas where the training required to fill a skills gap is too onerous for the current team. They could embark on a more detailed (and expensive) learning programme. Or, if they talked to the recruitment/HR department, it could be that those skills aren’t that hard to find on the job market.

These are just two simple examples – yet they each still only scratch at the surface.

The two departments should be working together, but more proactively than this – looking at the skills/resources needs of the business – both what’s needed to come and what’s needed to go – and looking at how they can solve these issues together, as the one single problem that it truly is.

This does happen in some organisations – but not in enough. The reality for many organisations is that training request forms are seldom challenged; job/role replacement requests are actioned without consultation. In both cases the job gets done, but perhaps not in the best way for the organisation – either short term or long term.

In many cases, organisations work with trusted external providers to deliver training and recruitment. Sometimes, this is on a fully managed basis. This isn’t a bad way of working – it can be efficient. But it does need some checks and balances in place because it’s not usually in the nature of a training company to turn away business in favour of a recruitment provider – or vice versa.

So again, when third parties are involved, everyone needs to be working to the same plan, with the same goals and sharing the same ethics and decision-making processes.

The goal is that the business has access to the skills it needs. Skills that are matched to its goals. Those skills can come from within the organisation or from outside of it. Sometimes those decisions will be taken on a strategic basis or out of expediency. But in all cases, those decisions are better decisions when they are made based on all of the available options – not just the ones within the immediate remit of that department.