Companies that have L&D strategies that are learner-centric, aligned with the business mission, and data-driven are coming out on top in the current talent war. Organizational success can be ensured by concentrating on these three areas.
Position Perk for L&D Professionals: Emphasis on Learner Requirements, Organizational Objectives, and Measurement Data
Major shifts in when, where, and how people work have occurred over the past three years due to factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the exponential growth of digital technologies, global tensions, climate change, and significant demographic shifts. Almost every organization, from corporations to nonprofits to universities to government agencies, has struggled with human resource issues related to the war for talent. These challenges included the Great Resignation, where thousands of employees reexamined their lives and decided to walk out of their jobs; quiet quitting, whereby employees stayed in their roles but largely disengaged, costing the organisation significant amounts of money and resources; and finally, hybrid work settings where organisations grappled, often failing, to strike the right balance between remote and at-the-office work, alienating even their best and most loyal employees.
Despite all the upheaval, one trend stood out: L&D was becoming an increasingly valued benefit at the workplace. Research conducted in 2022 by the Society for Human Resource Management showed that 67% of human resources functions started receiving budget increases  to deliver the Learning and Development strategies their talent needs. Employees want to go where they feel heard and seen and are encouraged to grow personally and professionally. This means that L&D must become more robust, better funded, and learner-centered to drive organisational talent acquisition, development, and retention. This article outlines three strategies to ensure your L&D team is the de-facto, differentiating job perk for your organization.
3 Ways To Make L&D A Job Perk In Your Organization Center On Learner Needs
Ensuring that learning is centred on the learner’s needs means that the learning is not curated, designed, and delivered from the instructor’s or the process’s perspective but from the learner’s perspective. This means that the learning is dynamic, engaging, and actionable for the learner. The instructor becomes a facilitator of knowledge and an explainer of challenging content instead of a sage on the podium. There are four critical learning theories you can explore to ensure your learning assets are centred on the learner, including behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, and connectivism. Of these, the last two are the most learner-centric and learner-driven. In constructivism, the learner learns from the way the world around them is constructed, and learning assets are scaffolded and coupled with personalised coaching and mentoring programs. Connectivism centres on the learner by underscoring the power of technology as an enabler and a connector to learning. Learners can quickly access micro-videos, connect with others with similar learning interests, and even create their own practical and actionable how-to content based on their experiences. Learner-centered learning assets that are actionable and practical can expedite problem-solving on the job, which in turn, at the aggregate organisational level, can improve business performance.
Align Learning To The Business Purpose
Research shows that the most successful L&D teams are those who align learning with the CEO’s agenda and tune in to the business unit’s goals and challenges. Furthermore, L&D organisations that recognise the needs of Gen-Z learners who are purpose-driven can more effectively articulate the “why” and the purpose of learning toward both business goals and purpose. As an L&D leader, to help your Learning and Development strategies become business purpose-aligned, you and your team must clearly articulate and announce your own team mission in terms of the organisational goals and purpose. Next, you will need to curate learning that directly aligns with the organisational goals and clarify how it will help the employee, your learner, be more effective and productive in a given time frame. In other words, the learning assets need to generate value for the employee, the learner, and, collectively, the organization.
Use Data To Drive Decisions
Becoming a data-driven L&D organisation means that you collect qualitative and quantitative data on the learner and the business goals, clean, systematise and analyse the data, and then make strategic decisions based on the data. Research by Northeastern University outlines five steps organisations can implement to become data-driven: embrace your mission, define data sources, define key performance indicators, clean and organise your data, analyse the data, and tell your story. In the L&D context, knowing your mission means that you know both what the organisation wants to achieve and what the learner needs to get there. Aligning with the CEO and their agenda, partnering with business units, and listening to all stakeholders for their challenges and concerns can help you zero in on what the organisation wants to achieve. Listening to the learner through surveys, social media posts, ask-me-anything sessions, online discussions, and focus groups can help you understand what the learner needs to be more engaged and productive on the job.
These interactions with the organisational leadership and the learner alike serve as qualitative and quantitative data sources. Next, you have to define the key performance indicators you will use to measure and evaluate the data. Such KPIs can help you measure factors such as learning asset stickiness, adoption, growth, and engagement for each learner. Next, you will need to define when, how often, and where you will collect all this data, where to store it, and how to organise and clean it. Surveys, discussions, and monthly performance meetings can serve as data sources for organisational goals. Thanks to Experience API (xAPI), you can collect learner data on a daily basis. You will need to hire L&D dedicated data scientists to clean and store the data in secure yet accessible databases. Next, you will need to analyse the data to uncover patterns and gaps, depict it visually , and, finally, tell the story of the data  in terms of the learner’s needs and organisational goals.
Learning and Development divisions have long suffered from limited funding and resources, lacking a seat at the C-Suite table, and being diminished to training order takers. The volume, velocity, and complexity of exponential change thrust upon us by the Covid-19 pandemic, digital advancements, global tensions, socioeconomic pressures, climate change, and tectonic shifts in demographics have resulted in a most competitive war on talent. In this current talent war, the organisations with the most learner-entered, business purpose-aligned, and data-driven L&D functions are already winning. As an L&D leader, you must ensure that your L&D team is learner-centered, purpose-focused, and data-driven to succeed.