Human capital is the single largest expense for most organizations, yet many companies have not viewed it as a means to achieve greater business goals by making that human capital more productive. Fortunately, many of today's executives and business leaders are realizing that investment in their workforce—often referred to as “Talent Management”—is the most effective way to get there.

Businesses can increase their competitive advantages by actualizing, maximizing, and assessing the talent that resides in their workforce. One way companies are achieving this is by integrating their learning and development initiatives with performance management. By more closely aligning learning with performance goals, organizations can gain a better understanding of where the specific skills, knowledge, and leadership exist within their organization. They can then leverage this insight to maximize their employees' talents, thereby generating substantial increases in work-force productivity.

A learning management system (LMS)—Web-based software that deploys, manages, tracks, and reports on learning—is the cornerstone of a strong talent management plan. It allows organizations to register employees for classes, track their progress, record test scores, indicate class completions, and, where relevant, enhance compliance with federal and industry regulations. Companies across several industries are realizing tangible return on investment (ROI) by implementing best-of-breed LMS solutions to manage training requirements, define and develop courses and content, and deploy courses across multiple sites. Implementing an LMS can help directly link job competency and skills requirements.

One of Plateau's retail customers, Wendy's International, has found that leveraging an LMS for employee training has helped to consolidate and facilitate the scheduling, tracking, delivery, and management of training programs. By deploying a solution that supports blended learning (a combination of online learning and face-to-face approaches), classroom training, computer-based training, and just-in-time training, the fast-food giant has been able to rapidly and effectively deliver programs that enhance operational efficiency and customer services. Administrators can assess competencies and skills of employees, while managing all of the facets of corporate learning and knowledge on one scalable platform. These approaches are easily interchangeable and adaptable to be enjoyed by other retailers.

The second element, performance management, ensures that goals are consistently being met effectively and efficiently. To do this, use solutions that are integrated into one platform or use LMS and performance management solutions that can talk to one another.

Leveraging learning and performance in tandem often results in workforce productivity gains that are greater than those achieved through silo-ed learning and performance initiatives. Another one of our customers, Idaho Power, a major utility company that provides electric service to nearly 460,000 customers across a 24,000-square-mile area in Idaho and eastern Oregon, integrated performance management with learning initiatives, allowing the company to measure and improve workforce performance through targeted learning and development.

This holistic approach to developing and managing talent will enable Idaho Power to attract, retain, and motivate its workforce while providing seamless and consistent performance measurement and development tools. By taking a proactive approach and making this initiative a priority, Idaho Power is also establishing itself as a leader and pioneer in business operations performance among energy and utility companies.

Ed Cohen, Chief Technology Officer, Plateau Systems, Arlington, Va.

Retailers and wholesalers that understand the value of integrating performance and learning can expect to expand their competitive edge, increase workforce productivity, and achieve significant ROI. By leveraging performance information within learning systems, for example, companies can prescribe training that aligns with an employee's profile or identify high performers based on their competencies and accelerate their development into a leadership position. The opportunities for increased productivity are limitless, but only if the approaches are applied strategically.

Plateau Systems is a leading provider of adaptable, Web-based software for developing, managing, and optimizing organizational skills and talent to increase workforce productivity and business operations performance.