Achieving the optimal blend in L&D

‘To be at the heart of tomorrow’s business, learning and development teams have to become innovators’ futurist Rohit Talwar professed at Learning Technologies last year. As technology transforms the way we live, work, communicate and even socialise, the way we learn has inevitably changed too. It’s time for L&D teams to immerse themselves in the post-digital era as they become the centre of innovation for future business, but will this replace the people within it?

Is L&D ready?

Despite a general consensus that L&D teams have been slow to the mark when it comes to digitisation and investing in technology, Training Journal have argued that companies understand the value of digitised learning as it plays a vital part in employee attraction, satisfaction and retention. Our report, The digital opportunity: Striking the digital balance for better learning experiences, explores the increasing importance of learnability across workforces and how technology can enable this. 94% of business leaders we spoke to believe the digitisation of L&D is the starting point for rolling out digital transformation across the wider business.

Digitisation can enhance development for employees, providing them with on-the-go, accessible learning when they need it, personalised to their own career development and passions. As technology rapidly creates new roles as others become obsolete people will need to continually develop, unlearn and relearn to possess the skills to fulfill the jobs required at that given time. Yet employees believe that the need to invest in technology across L&D isn't a key initiative for business leaders. The need to invest in technology across L&D isn’t an initiative that business leaders know and need for their future viability, employees agree. Research undertaken by Totaljobs revealed that over two-thirds (68%) of employees have changed jobs due to the lack of learning and development opportunities in their current role.

L&D will become commercial

With L&D at the epicentre of digital innovation it’ll mean that the function will start to transform into a commercial and strategic arm of the business – value will need to be shown. 79% of HR and business leaders have stated that the learner experience is pivotal if employees are to perform at their best so the metrics to measure effectiveness and evaluate level of engagement across learning is crucial. Employers and HR will also need to ensure that the investment being placed into L&D is being returned through employee performance, if this is not successful then a culture of learnability will not flourish and digitising the wider business will become an ever-greater challenge.

Machines are not the sole solution

In order to achieve this L&D must understand their employees, get to know what they want from their employer, business and career. From this a personalised learning journey can be created for them, providing them with the information they actually need and want to learn so learner experience, engagement and retention will increase. Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve seems more relevant than ever in today’s workplace as quality of learning and the importance of it to the learner is what will drive learner experience, engagement and ultimately drive upskilling, worker productivity and performance forward. It’s important to see that without human interaction to understand what employees want and to build the relationship between L&D teams and their learners, the digital tools that can enhance learning will only go so far. Without understanding the workforce through face-to-face communication, technology will not create the outcomes L&D and the wider business requires.

The human element of HR will become an even greater requirement in the post-digital workforce and even though 75% of organisations foresee using artificial intelligence over the next two years to create customised learning journeys and provide recommendations on them, they cannot remove the human touch or trust people place in others and learners may not always want to engage with a device, especially when developing soft skills. Employees believe that leadership, management, and interpersonal skills development should continue to be carried out by people due to the nature of such skills and what they’ll be used for. People can never be removed from L&D, technology is there to complement and enhance, bringing L&D to the strategic forefront and showing the value it brings across an organisation.

As digitisation across businesses takes hold L&D will only continue as a pivotal cog in the workforce’s machine. Employees will need to be continually upskilled and reskilled due to the technology that is ironically developing their learning further to be equipped for future work demands. To optimise L&D there will always need to be a blend of human and digital provision – there now isn’t one without the other.


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