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How L&D is Central to the Success of Talent Transformation

Talent transformation is a hot topic in the world of business. As learning and development (L&D) professionals, we must identify where we fit into the conversation and how we can drive business forward by fostering our talent. When we talk about talent, we are not just focusing on future leaders; we’re looking at all of our people. So how do we, as learning experts, enable all of our people to engage and work at their optimal performance for our wider success?

Read on to learn why talent is the hot topic, why talent transformation is a crucial focus for your organization, and how learning is central to its success.

Why Focus Transformation Efforts on Talent?

More than 75% of companies are experiencing hiring difficulties, British Chambers of Commerce survey finds.
Financial Times*

It’s no secret that we are facing a capability crisis, and this crisis exists across all industries and sectors. Organizations are facing unprecedented challenges and disruption and need to respond quickly. Markets are also becoming increasingly complex and globalized, which has led to many emerging technologies. This rapid pace and rate of change are creating organizational complexity and confusion.

In addition to changes in the business world, people trends are also shifting. We have a multi-generational workforce, and over the last few years, we’ve seen moments of stress that include large numbers of people moving between companies. Because of these changes, critical workforce skill gaps are appearing.

As learning professionals, we’re at a critical moment of reflection—how do we engage with talent in our organizations? Added to this, many companies are looking back at where they invested time and money in learning, only to see past learning efforts had not been effective. This means that, for some, there is a low level of trust in learning transformation. So, at a time when many organizations’ budgets are being tightened, there may be an added reluctance to fund learning solutions.

We are all facing an increasingly complex and dynamic business environment. This environment requires a diverse set of capabilities that many organizations lack. This challenge is also paired with a shortage of skilled workers, and this situation is creating a risk of organizations falling behind competitors, losing top talent, and struggling to achieve strategic goals. The first step in finding solutions to these challenges is to acknowledge and bring them to the fore, to highlight the business imperative.

Why Is Talent Transformation So Difficult

We are all aware that it’s necessary to focus on transforming our talent, but why does it feel so hard to do?

Addressing this challenge requires significant investments in resources—such as technology, L&D programs, and talent management systems—and many organizations struggle to secure funding to support these initiatives.

Many companies also don’t have the internal expertise or capacity to manage talent initiatives effectively, and ultimately this results in a lack of alignment between an organization’s initiatives and goals. Talent initiatives need consistent investment, to be agile and adaptable to keep up with the pace of technological and market changes, and to have the ability to identify and close skill gaps.

Another difficulty can be the required shift in mindset away from traditional ways of thinking about talent management and people development. This can result in resistance to change, particularly if your people are used to traditional career paths and development opportunities. It also requires a cultural shift within the organization to more of a continuous growth mindset in terms of L&D.

Where Learning Meets Talent

We need to engage more deeply with our talent. However, talent is a broad term. It means different things to different people. But, in an L&D context, we believe we’re asking ourselves these questions: Where does learning fit into the talent conversation? How about what we do as learning professionals?

To answer this question, we’ve tested a way of looking at learning and talent, inspired by Deloitte’s structure for thinking about the future of work. We’ve started using the model to question where L&D fits into the talent transformation story. The model reflects on three key areas of our engagement: the work, the work environment, and the workers (or our learners).

The Work: The Job to Be Done

Businesses and capabilities are shifting. The world of business and what we need people to do are also changing. Learning has the frontline sight as work practices and needs shift. Learning is also an enabling force—constantly seeing and reacting to change. Our job as L&D professionals is to support people and skills transformation in the context of changing work needs.

Our role is also about enabling cultural transformation and engaging with the wider business. L&D acts as the glue between departments and coordinates the ways of thinking within an organization. It’s vital to retain talent as your organizational needs change. This means enabling pathways for learners into your business and throughout their careers. The other key point for talent transformation is to hire for the future. If you retain the best people in your organization, and keep them happy and engaged, they will perform for you and drive your business forward.

The Work Environment: Context

The role of learning in recent years has shifted to include enabling learners to be high performers. We do this by providing optimized ecosystems and environments that include tools, knowledge, and the information they need to engage deeply in their day-to-day tasks. This means providing focused, just-in-time, personalized, and contextual learning.

We want to connect learning and work states: work is learning, and learning is work. Learning needs to become part of everything your people do every day. The work environment is also about developing the broader cultures that support people working at their best—we also want to drive people-focused initiatives, from wellness to diversity and beyond, to keep people happy, healthy, and working optimally.

The Workers: Your People

We build performance behaviors for success that help people and organizations deliver their best. We are the professionals responsible for people’s skills, growth, and change, and we drive core strategic learning skills and capability initiatives, such as resilience, agility, change, and leadership. It is our job to put in pathways that lead to success, from when people apply for their job through all of their other career experiences with the company.

It’s also vital that we engage learners with the business and keep the two-way narrative going continually, for the benefit of both parties. People who feel their opinions are valued and considered are more likely to engage with learning and the organization as a whole.

Finally, we must also focus on measuring and reporting the value of learning and performance behaviors in the talent context. Leading organizations in every industry are successfully answering vital workforce L&D questions using the vast datasets now available. Well-defined and managed impact measurement programs will provide the evidence you need to show your L&D strategies and initiatives are having the positive business impact you planned.

Talent Transformation Is All About Your People

Your talent needs learning, and as L&D professionals, we play a vital role in influencing the work, the work environment, and the learners to thrive and deliver the very best results for your organization. To learn more about how to transform your talent, get in touch today.

*UK business lobby group calls for government help over labour shortages – Financial Times

About the Authors

Andrew Joly
Andrew leads the strategy and consulting faculty in the Learning Experience team, which is at the frontline of delivering creative, innovative and effective learning solutions. He focuses on his personal passion: how technology-enabled learning experiences and communication blends can transform behaviors and performance in the workplace. Andrew has a passion for exploring how new modes and strategies for learning and connection can make a real difference to people, teams, and global organizations.

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