The corporate Learning and Development (L&D) market has undergone significant changes in the past 15 years. These changes—from page-turner courses to video, microlearning, mobile apps, and adaptive learning to digital platforms—happen rapidly and continually. Each brings great opportunity and headaches.
It’s a lot for employers to maneuver and get right. It may seem easier to remain in place and trust that current efforts are hitting the mark. Employees, however, are suggesting otherwise.
Employees across industries are sounding the rally cry for change. They want easy access to on-demand information (think Facebook, Twitter, Netflix, etc.) to solve their day-to-day issues. With the ever-increasing demands on employees’ time, there’s very little time left for professional development let alone role-specific training.
IBM Chief Learning Officer, Guillermo Miranda reinforces this shift in the article, “A New Era Dawns for TD” (Talent Development Magazine). During his interview, Miranda shared some observations that led to IBM reinventing its corporate learning function to reflect a more user-centric focus, “The digital world is becoming embedded in our personal and business lives, and every executive responsible for TD needs to embrace it.” IBM’s challenge was to create a learning environment that reflects our digital world. “On these platforms, we purchase our groceries, select our music, and order our taxis. To thrive in this environment, L&D must embrace these same technologies,” Miranda continues. It’s an online world that replaces linear, event-only learning with continual learning, where disparate things happen simultaneously, the definition of learning expands beyond the boundaries of formal events, and multiple delivery modalities are available on demand.
Embedded in employees’ desire for accessible, on-demand training is another message: training is a valued must-have. Human Resources (HR) and L&D professionals are listening and getting the message loud and clear. If an organization doesn’t value and respond to employees’ requests for timely, targeted training that meets their needs, employees will either search outside the organization for what they need and hope it works, or leave.
The costs associated with either outcome is too high for a business to remain successful. An employee searching for answers may adopt new skills that do not fit with the organization’s critical mission directives. Just as bad is an employee who chooses to leave. When leaders are confronted with turnover costs such as hiring, onboarding, training, lost productivity and engagement, and cultural impact, creating an L&D budget that supports emerging learning technology costs less by meeting employees’ development needs and decreasing turnover.
Still not convinced? Let’s take a closer look at the data.
Josh Bersin, in his article, Watch Out, Corporate Learning: Here Comes Disruption, notes the increased priority for corporate learning. He highlights some interesting data gleaned from Deloitte Human Capital Trends’ research to support his statement:
What Does This Mean for Businesses?
“If we can’t look things up, learn quickly, and find a way to develop new skills at work, most of us would prefer to change jobs, rather than stay in a company that doesn’t let us reinvent ourselves over time,” Josh Bersin.
Businesses will need to not only respond to employee training needs but also transform their recruitment philosophy and processes as existing talent wars worsen. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by 2020, the world could be facing an astounding global shortfall of 85 million qualified workers. How can companies position themselves to compete better now?
A multi-pronged approach is the answer: determine what your employees want, create a learning ecosystem that supports multi-channel development, and develop a recruitment philosophy, processes, and messages that align with and support the culture.
For example, some recruiters are shifting their sourcing efforts from traditional methods to one referred to as “skills over schools,” which favors specific skills sets—or the desire to learn—over previous employment and higher education pedigree.
Roy Maurer details hiring challenges and what leaders across industries are saying in his article, 2017 Recruiting Trends Point To Technology Driving Change. “In the past, recruiters and hiring managers looked at resumes and put too much stock into where a candidate previously worked or went to school, rather than the specific skillsets they possess,” said Susan Vitale, Chief Marketing Officer for iCIMS. “Recently, they have been shifting the focus to hiring driven candidates who have the determination to learn the skills they need for the job and who share the same competencies of the organization.”
Such a shift requires a defined strategy rooted in actuals (i.e., messaging rather than nice-to-haves and real-world examples). It also requires talent acquisition training, communication, and execution:
Don’t leave recruiters stumbling when a candidate asks for specifics. Equip recruiters with tools, messaging, and knowledge they need to effectively communicate the learning culture candidates.
Here are some steps an organization can take to meet employees’ learning needs.
Step 1: Define and analyze
Step 2: Create a roadmap
Step 3: Implement and evaluate
It all begins with engaging employees in the process. By simply answering the question, “What do learners want?”, an organization steps into engaging, retaining, and shifting to a learner-centric work environment. If nothing else, start there and trust the process.
 Harris, P. (2017, October). A New Era Dawns for TD. Talent Development, 71(10), 38-40.
Gutierrez, K. (2016, January 28). SHIFT's eLearning Blog. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.shiftelearning.com/blog/statistics-on-corporate-training-and-what-they-mean-for-your-companys-future
 Schwartz, J., Collins, L., Stockton, H., Wagner, D., & Walsh, B. (2017). 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends: Rewriting the rules for the digital age (Rep.). Deloitte University Press.
 Bersin, J. (2017, March 29). Watch Out, Corporate Learning: Here Comes Disruption. Retrieved November 08, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/joshbersin/2017/03/28/watch-out-corporate-learning-here-comes-disruption/#6418eb38dc5
 Dobbs, R., Lund, S., & Madgavkar, A. (November). Talent tensions ahead: A CEO briefing. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.mckinsey.com/global-themes/employment-and-growth/talent-tensions-ahead-a-ceo-briefing
 Maurer, R. (2017, February 23). 2017 Recruiting Trends Point To Technology Driving Change. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/recruiting-trends-2017-technology-change.aspx
Our clients and the training community ask us questions and often consistent themes emerge. From making learning stick to developing skills we once assumed every employee possessed, the challenges today’s businesses face can be transformed through a strong learning culture.
Every year, the learning and development industry presents exciting developments, time-saving innovations, and new research. Solutions Arts follows and tests theories, practices, and technologies, and our clients benefit from what we learn. We value sharing what we learn and the opportunity to discuss it here on our blog.