L&D undergoes a renaissance as it shows its true worth to organisational success

21st June by Lee Robertson

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The latest Workplace Learning Report from LinkedIn has revealed that the field of learning and development has been enjoying a renaissance over the last two years with L&D professionals earning a seat at the table.

Entitled ‘The Transformation of L&D’, the report proclaims that learning has led the way through a period unlike anything else in the history of work – or as LinkedIn has christened it, the ‘Great Reshuffle’. Drawing on a combination of data and interviews with L&D leaders, it explores the current state of L&D trends and reveals how Covid-19 has been a catalyst for significant change.

The ascendancy of L&D

Amid this era of transformation, L&D has become more central, strategic, cross-functional and overworked. It has a new mandate to become its best self and learning leaders lived up to expectations during the pandemic helping their people pivot to pandemic protocols and remote or hybrid working models.

It has become more influential over the last year with 87% of L&D practitioners believing that they had some to a great deal of involvement in helping their organisation adapt to change. 74% of those polled agreed that L&D had become more cross-functional and 72% cited that it had become a more strategic function within the organisation.

The report also found that L&D was a key priority when it came to investment with nearly half of L&D professionals expecting their budgets to increase in the coming year.

Leadership and upskilling top priorities list

While competing priorities are pulling L&D leaders in many different directions, just under half have had their focus on leadership and management training. Managers are being actively tapped into in recognition of their need to lead through change and the direct impact they have on employee engagement and retainment.

46% said that the skills gap is wider within their organisation and 49% reported that executives are concerned that employees do not have the right skills to execute business strategy. Consequently 72% have been concentrating on skills with 46% giving precedence to upskilling and reskilling alongside digital upskilling and digital transformation at 26%.

Learning is becoming central to everyday work

Learning is rapidly becoming a critical part of many employees’ daily work with 85% of practitioners agreeing that there will be more on-the-job learning through projects and gigs this year.

Employees’ top three motivations to learn are all connected to their careers if it helps them stay up to date in their field, is personalised specifically for their interests and can help them get another role internally, be promoted or get closer to realising their career goals.

Employees who feel that their skills are not being put to good use in their current job are 10 times more likely to look for a new position and 79% of L&D professionals agree that it is less expensive to reskill a current employee than to hire a new one.

With employees leaving their jobs as part of the Great Resignation, workers now expect opportunities to learn and grow without limitation. It is vital for organisations to invest their efforts in turning the skills crisis into an opportunity and create a continual learning culture which can help with internal mobility and retention levels for the long-term.

L&D professionals need to keep their skills fresh and relevant too

With L&D playing an essential part in protecting an organisation’s future by producing high-impact and high-quality learning experiences, it is fundamental that L&D leaders develop new skills themselves.

Being handed bigger and meatier problems to solve, L&D professionals need additional training to cover a broad spectrum of areas including leadership, data and decision-making, managing relationships, the use of technology, personal readiness and core aspects of business or L&D operations. Coaching and training interventions around business acumen, empathy, problem solving, leading others, communication and agility are just some of the areas where they may need additional development support.

Karen Smart, head of consultancy at the AoEC said: “This is a positive and affirming report and demonstrates just how important the role of learning and development is within an organisation. Learning is the lifeblood of any organisation, and it plays a huge part in enabling leaders to navigate uncertainty and volatile conditions. The findings are useful and LinkedIn has also packed in some great advice from top thinkers which can help other L&D and HR professionals keep pace with the change going on around them.”