27 November 2014

The changing role of L&D: how to evolve for the future

The future of learning and development (L&D) is changing and employers need to align training initiatives to business strategy, according to this year’s CIPD/Cornerstone annual L&D survey.

This year’s CIPD/Cornerstone annual L&D survey showed that the number of companies measuring L&D return on investment has risen from 26% to 48% since last year. More than half of the organisations surveyed said that business knowledge and commercial awareness is critical to success in L&D and business development.

Nearly a third of respondents also said that a major priority over the next year is developing future leaders who can increase business performance in innovative and creative ways.

Meeting the L&D needs of the Millennial generation

By 2020 Millennials (people aged 18-33) will account for almost half of all workers. L&D professionals must ensure that the training they offer keeps this age group engaged and motivated in the workplace.

According to a survey by global recruitment group Adecco, 68% of recent graduates said that good L&D opportunities were one of their top priorities when looking for a new job. This is great news for L&D professionals, but it’s important that any workplace training programmes are tailored to the needs of learners – often through the use of new technologies.

Millennials have high expectations for L&D, which are often not met by their employers. According to Accenture’s 2014 College Graduate Employment Survey, 80% of 2014 graduates expect a formal training programme in their first job, but only 48% of 2012/13 graduates received formal training from their first employer.

In order to attract and retain talented Millennials it’s important to have an inventive and rewarding L&D strategy in place. Here are 5 tips on how to do just that:

1. Use social media for learning 
The latest Learning Trends survey highlights the expanding role played by social media across the L&D landscape. 56% of learning managers predict an increase in the use of social media tools in their L&D solutions in the coming six months – an increase of 10% on the previous year’s survey. L&D managers should encourage the use of relevant social media tools to ensure they have a positive impact on the overall learning experience. Ways to do this include:

  • Showing examples of where social media is working well to support learning
  • Developing internal forums and blogs for employees to share information
  • Using social networks such as LinkedIn or Twitter to boost internal collaboration

2. Allow personal learning journeys
Some innovative companies allow employees to choose their own training, which helps them feel more engaged with their own learning journey. Using employee satisfaction surveys to establish the impact of such training on performance can be a powerful tool. They can be used to show senior management any ideas that could shape future planning and L&D strategies.

3. Provide instant access learning
Some companies (including Santander and PricewaterhouseCoopers) are now offering 24/7 access to online training, which is proving popular with younger staff. Simon Lloyd, people and talent director for Santander UK, told the L&D Show 2014 that the 24/7 access offered by this learning style was “hugely popular” at the bank and had driven a “desire to learn on the job”.

4. Encourage informal learning
More organisations are reaping the benefits of informal learning. As traditional course-led learning comes under pressure from financial and efficiency perspectives, this new approach to learning is growing more popular. L&D managers can promote this by:

  • Encouraging a culture of ‘learning by doing’ and on-the-job training
  • Promoting informal knowledge and information bases
  • Encouraging collaboration and sharing of knowledge between different teams and departments – for example job shadowing

5. Use gamification for L&D
Gamification is the concept of taking ideas that are usually used in video games and using them to motivate people to achieve certain goals. Millennials have grown up in the world of the internet, and companies can use this to their advantage by utilising gamification strategies for instant access learning.
Research has shown that Millennials thrive on the concept of “winning” and they enjoy receiving peer feedback via social media. MTV’s study “Let’s Play Brand” attempted to understand the meta-game mentality and found that half of those surveyed equated real life to a video game. Almost six out of 10 Millennials said that #winning is “the slogan of my generation”.

Wise employers can use this to their advantage in their L&D programmes by establishing scores and leaderboards for training exercises in order to encourage participation.

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