The Future of Corporate Learning and Development

Question 2: What Challenges Do Learning Professionals Face?

Your role as a learning professional is shifting. In the past, your priorities were developing curriculum and deploying content for training on-site employees. Today, your job is much harder. You are a curator of content, enabler of knowledge sharing, and facilitator of learning outcomes and better performance. You integrate learning processes and technology with other talent functions, as well as manage content that you develop yourself, acquire from third parties, and see percolate up from internal subject-matter experts. Your dance card is more than full.

It’s important to prioritize your efforts and focus on the work that matters. What are your peers focused on? In our survey, four big challenges loom large for learning professionals:

51% Connecting learning to career development and succession initiatives

Over half of our panel identified this as a challenge, making it the biggest one facing learning professionals. It’s also, probably not coincidentally, one that requires technology integration and the cooperation of other people in the organization.

Succession and career development should feed into learning (and vice verse), but it doesn’t always happen that way. Disparate technology systems and siloed processes make it difficult to execute that collaboration on a large scale.

43% Using development to improve employee engagement and retention

Also requiring a high degree of collaboration with learning’s friends in HR, this challenge was cited by 43 percent of the panel. As executives get in on the conversation, they typically ask what drives employee engagement. One of the key factors, across multiple studies, is an employee’s place in the future of the organization.

One way to ensure that? A tailored learning program that meets the needs of the employee and the organization goes a long way.

39% Meeting the needs of a distributed, mobile workforce

Most of the previous-generation learning solutions — the ones largely used in organizations — weren’t necessarily mobile-friendly out of the box. While some have added that functionality, much of the content is still designed to be consumed in a single sitting over the course of hours instead of on the go in bite-sized segments.

This gap between technology and existing content is likely why two in five of our panelists called this a challenge. The need is only going to become greater as mobile and remote workers become even more widespread.

35% Encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing

At 35 percent, collaboration and knowledge sharing may be the least cited of the four challenges we’ve shared, but we predict it’s going to become even more important. As the emphasis on formal and classroom learning diminishes, something has to take it’s place — and quickly.

Building a knowledge sharing and collaboration culture (along with the accompanying technology) will go a long way to supplement existing learning initiatives and connect learning effectively to career development, succession management, and workforce management.

The Starr Conspiracy’s take:

As a learning professional, you’ve become far more important and integral to your organization. Talent functions can’t succeed without development. You must collaborate with all of the talent stakeholders in your organization to show employees how to build a future with you, get better at what they do today, prepare to be great doing bigger and better things tomorrow, and have a reason to care about their work. Above all, EVERYTHING must be linked back to quantifiable performance.

Brandon Hall Group’s take:

As a learning professional, the days of watching the corporate story unfold around you are gone — now you are the story. It’s your time to show your organization that you and your team are a strategic asset and are ready to take on the accountability and responsibility for developing your organization’s most revered asset — its talent. You are in the driver’s seat to be the new change agent for your organization. Changing the way employees think and act — and transforming their behaviors into dynamic acts of performance — is your destiny. The BHAG of ensuring that your organization is the leader in your industry is now yours. To deliver a talent pool that is second to none is the number one weapon your organization has in this highly competitive and global marketplace. Embrace your new level of importance and show your organization that learning was always the key to breakthrough performance and market dominance.