By Jen Sweeney
In recent years, experts like Deloitte’s Josh Bersin have predicted that corporate learning and development (L&D) was on the brink of a transformation. Last year, reinventing careers and learning was the second most important topic for business leaders, according to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report. For 2018, Bersin predicts that corporate L&D’s reinvention will be underway, and will bring with it a new breed of corporate learning tools.
Today, two months into the new year, it’s becoming clear that the forecasts from Bersin and others were dead on. Indeed, there’s a new urgency in corporate L&D, and it’s only going to get stronger.
Several factors are contributing to this new urgency. First, it’s a response to what’s already underway—business leaders are feeling pressure to accelerate their digital transformation efforts and to keep up with more frequent technology changes.
The urgency is also a response to changes that technology is expected bring about in the near future. For example:
- Experts predict that almost half of subject knowledge learned during the first year of a four-year technical degree will be outdated by the time students graduate.1
- By 2020, more than a third of the desired core skill sets of most occupations will include capabilities that are not yet considered crucial to the job today.2
- By 2030, as many as 375 million workers (about 14 percent of the global workforce) may need to switch occupational categories as digitization, automation and advances in artificial intelligence disrupt the world of work.3
Without a doubt, organizations must respond to this urgency. They need to focus on reskilling, upskilling and continuous learning as top priorities, no matter where they are in their digital journeys. Here are three reasons why:
1. To increase employee productivity, retention and engagement
Development is an essential human need, and one of the greatest motivators. According to research by Gallup, “Workplace cultures that promote high engagement provide opportunities for personal fulfillment. Employees give more of themselves when they experience a sense of progress than when they feel stagnant.”
2. To improve company performance
Research has suggested a strong link between employee engagement and company performance. In Gallup’s 2017 State of the American Workplace report, researchers found that businesses or departments with high levels of engagement have almost double the odds of success than those with low engagement. Specifically, that means lower absenteeism and turnover, and higher sales, productivity, profitability and customer satisfaction.
3. To ensure the organization stays competitive in the future
Technology is not only changing how people and organizations work, it’s also changing the goals they work toward. According to McKinsey, the only way for organizations to benefit from investments in digitization, automation and artificial intelligence is to have “the people and processes in place to capture it.”
For organizations that have just begun rethinking their learning and development strategies, they must make expanding and accelerating their efforts the top priorities. They need to ask important questions—How effectively does the current strategy meet the L&D needs of employees? How well does it equip the organization to stay competitive and innovate?
Without a doubt, organizations must respond to this urgency. They need to focus on reskilling, upskilling and continuous learning as top priorities, no matter where they are in their digital journeys
As organizations progress, they must also continually assess how their strategy holds up as jobs transform and needs change. Identifying and implementing new tools to drive engagement, enhance processes and develop the people using new digital technologies will be key to improved company performance and a cutting-edge, competitive organization.
1. “The Future of Jobs Report 2016,” World Economic Forum, January 2016; 2. Ibid.; 3. “Retraining and reskilling workers in the age of automation,” McKinsey Global Institute, January 2018