Organizations are struggling to keep pace with the new skills needed in their workforces, thanks to large-scale trends such as the shift to digital business models and the increased adoption of workplace automation, AI, and advanced analytics. The pandemic accelerated those trends, putting an increased premium on learning and development (L&D) as a means of equipping companies to handle both long-term challenges and short-term crises.
To understand the implications of these changes, we recently engaged in more than 60 in-depth conversations with CEOs, chief human resources officers, chief learning officers, chief operating officers, and other senior HR and business leaders across six countries. We supplemented that research through surveys of more than 250 professionals worldwide about their approaches to L&D. The results show that relatively few organizations had strong L&D programs in place before the pandemic.
Get Updates on Transformative Leadership
Evidence-based resources that can help you lead your team more effectively, delivered to your inbox monthly.
Please enter a valid email address
Thank you for signing up
Those companies offer a model of how learning and development makes companies more responsive and agile. In studying their practices, we identified seven core principles that other companies can implement to improve their L&D efforts and equip themselves to thrive in both the short and long terms.
The Case for Investments in L&D
We conducted our quantitative survey in 2019 and found that few organizations had a strategic, forward-looking approach to L&D. Only 4 in 10 respondents to our survey identified preparing for the future as a high or top priority for their organization, and only 30% of respondents were confident in their ability to meet future skill needs.
Before COVID-19, technology was already changing employee and customer behaviors in dramatic ways, but the pace has now increased.
1. “Work-at-Home After COVID-19 — Our Forecast,” Global Workplace Analytics, accessed Dec. 16, 2020, https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com.
2. C. Bradley, M. Hirt, S. Hudson, et al., “The Great Acceleration,” McKinsey & Company, July 14, 2020, www.mckinsey.com.
3. Y. Kim and R.E. Ployhart, “The Effects of Staffing and Training on Firm Productivity and Profit Growth Before, During, and After the Great Recession,” Journal of Applied Psychology 99, no. 3 (May 2014): 361-389.
4. “Leading With Learning: Insights and Advice on the New State of L&D,” PDF file (Carpinteria, California: LinkedIn Learning, 2020), https://learning.linkedin.com.
5. A. Kidwai, “How PwC Keeps Its Digital Upskilling Relevant,” HRDive, May 12, 2020, www.hrdive.com.
6. J. Bersin and M. Zao-Sanders, “Making Learning a Part of Everyday Work,” Harvard Business Review, Feb. 19, 2019, https://hbr.org.
7. K. Peters, “m-Learning: Positioning Educators for a Mobile, Connected Future,” International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning 8, no. 2 (June 2007): 1-17.
8. R.L. Ray, P. Hyland, A. Pressman, et al., “DNA of Engagement: How Organizations Can Foster Employee Ownership of Engagement,” PDF file (New York: The Conference Board, 2017), www.conference-board.org.
9. V. Ratanjee, “Four Ways to Continue Employee Development When Budgets Are Cut,” Gallup, Aug. 3, 2020, www.gallup.com.
10. M. Schrage, J. Schwartz, D. Kiron, et al., “Opportunity Marketplaces: Aligning Workforce Investment and Value Creation in the Digital Enterprise,” MIT Sloan Management Review, April 28, 2020, https://sloanreview.mit.edu.
11. M. Lombardo and R.W. Eichinger, “The Career Architect Development Planner” (Minneapolis: Lominger, 1996).
12. T. Vander Ark, “Pandemic Spike in AI Learning — and What It Means for Schools,” Forbes, May 7, 2020, www.forbes.com.