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Alignment of L&D with firm strategy is critical to business success

'Future-ready' L&D teams deliver higher revenues, staff engagement and productivity, research finds

14 April 2015

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

More than half of organisations are failing to actively invest in building their learning and development (L&D) capabilities.

That's according to new research by the CIPD and Towards Maturity, covering more than 600 L&D professionals in 45 countries.

"In this volatile work environment we need to be agile, adaptive and ambidextrous to drive performance and stay relevant, aligning our work to the wider business," said Ruth Stuart, research adviser at the CIPD.

"In order to do this, we need to ensure that the correct L&D resources, roles and capabilities are in place."­

The research shows that, although the L&D community is more ambitious than ever before, many practitioners don't have the capabilities in-house to drive organisational change in the manner they would like.

For example, 87 per cent think that business planning is a priority for L&D professionals, but only 47 per cent say they currently have the skills in-house.

Similarly, 96 per cent see supporting online learning as important, but just 36 per cent have the capabilities to offer that service.

The research also highlights a noticeable shift in L&D roles from pure training delivery to performance consulting.

Under this model, L&D professionals both diagnose and solve problems. They also partner with the business to identify opportunities that can enhance performance.

The shift means that L&D professionals will increasingly need to be versatile experts.

"To me, it doesn't matter where you sit. If you're a small company and you're an L&D function, you need to be in with the board and you need to be able to understand what the priorities are," Sarah Lindsell, director of global & UK learning technology and transformation at PwC, told the researchers.

"If you're a massive company like ours, you still need that absolute business linkage because the role of L&D is to solve business problems with the business, whether they're performance, whether they're skillbuilding or whatever. It's about solving business problems and being a business partner."

Alignment of L&D team activity with the firm's strategy and business needs can translate into significantly-improved bottom line results.

The benchmarking research found that organisations which rank highest for L&D reported:

  • 21 per cent higher revenues (compared to 10 per cent increases on average);

  • 21 per cent higher staff engagement (compared to 17 per cent increases on average); and

  • 14 per cent lower attrition (compared to 9 per cent on average).

A greater focus on L&D has resulted in higher productivity in nearly three quarters of the organisations that rank in the top 10 per cent of the benchmarking index (compared with 28 per cent on average).

In addition, more than three fifths said they are now better equipped to quickly respond to changing business conditions (compared to 24 per cent on average).

The full research findings are published in L&D: Evolving roles, enhancing skills.




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Business development & Strategy Knowledge management HR