The world of work moves on. New hybrid working models, tech and productivity tools are here to make work easier and more productive. There’s a huge shift happening and a requirement for new skills as people adapt. Workforce transformation is accelerating — with or without a learning and development (L&D) team.

Ready For the Challenge?

Upskilling, reskilling and performance support are key — for both learning leaders and teams. While we tackle the transformation, we need to be ready for the challenge. Only then can we start to be valuable business partners in the organization.

So how do we get in shape? What’s our focus? How are we going to make it happen? And can we do it alone?

How Relevant Are We?

Getting in shape is more than implementing the latest technologies, analytics tools and experience platforms. According to a Brandon Hall study from last year, 50% of learning functions are not aligned to the business. So how can we increase this alignment?

Ultimately, it’s about fully understanding the core strategy of the business. Know it well and fully connect to it, so you can create an engagement model with the business that drives performance efficiently and easily.

In “The Evolving Role of Learning in Workforce Transformation” report by GP Strategies and Future Workplace, an L&D skills and development leader of customer experience and success at Microsoft says, “We need our team to be the bridge between the learning experience and the business, anticipating where business leaders want to go. This type of performance consulting requires strong communication skills, business acumen and the ability to translate stakeholder needs into design and technology requirements. It’s the learning equivalent of the HR business partner.”

It’s All About Me!

Putting your people at the heart of what you do is an absolute priority. If you don’t, they will find ways to circumvent you and find what they need from other sources — ones that you’re not operating in. It already happens. And if L&D is not on top of this, there’s a real danger of becoming obsolete and irrelevant.

A user-centric approach isn’t revolutionary. But it is often overlooked. To add value in this new world, we need to be mindful that it’s all about the workers and how they access their learning and performance support. Data helps build an understanding of the worker and their tasks, environments, skills and obstacles. Only when you have that understanding can you design experiences that address their challenges and help the organization achieve its goals.

In the report by GP Strategies and Future Workplace, a senior manager in the center of learning at General Motors says, “We need a learner-centric mindset when it comes to design. Through our annual surveys of learners and business partners, we see increased demand for a more personalized learner experience tailored to each individual’s experience and knowledge.”

Can You Do It Alone? 

Knowing what to do is one thing. Making it happen is a separate challenge, and you likely can’t do it alone. Some organizations are forging ahead. But while they have great tech and new roles and new strategies in place, they still need support — sometimes in very niche areas like data analysis, learning transformation or operational optimization.

Don’t think it’s all about driving down costs. Often, it’s about time, speed and completing goals at scale. Sometimes, it’s about flipping an entire learning and performance strategy. A variety of perspectives and skill sets can make the difference in what you’re trying to achieve.

In the report by GP Strategies and Future Workplace, the head of enterprise L&D and workforce of the future at MetLife says, “We see accelerated demand for ‘future of work’ skills. The pace of delivery is critical. We need to operate at twice the speed and be ready with our upskilling strategy when new demands emerge.”

In Conclusion

Having an outsourcing partner can be an effective strategy for transforming your workforce and adapting to the new world of work. Sometimes, it’s about reducing cost. But more ambitious learning leaders and teams look at the extra value that outsourcing can bring. When a budget is spent well, it can add serious value to the business — from cost center to tangible value provider. Getting there isn’t easy, but when you’ve got the right support or partner in place, it can become a much more achievable goal.