The COVID-19 pandemic revealed learning and development (L&D)’s secret identity as a business superhero. As companies fast-forwarded through digital transformation, L&D emerged as a crucial factor in business success … or lack thereof.

L&D’s premium “product” — people with the necessary skills to execute organizational strategy — is growing in value. The acceleration of business transformation ignited an urgent demand for properly skilled employees that far exceeds supply.

By 2025, almost 100 million new roles will emerge demanding people “more adopted to the new division of labor among humans, machines and algorithms,” according to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report. In addition to digital skills, employees will need increased expertise in critical thinking and analysis, and such self-management capabilities as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance — (no kidding!) — and flexibility.

It’s business-critical for organizations to find and train these panoramically skilled employees, then keep them engaged and fulfilled. Retention keeps the score.

L&D can support the business by seeing the world from the employees’ perspective — guiding, speeding and enriching professionals’ career navigation with upskilling, reskilling and retention.

Success Profiles as the GPS of Successful Careers

Desirable workers challenge their companies: “Help me make the best of this new landscape or I’ll leave.” Leaving one job for another can be as frictionless as logging into a new portal from home next Monday morning.

In the new world of work, companies that put the most valuable career navigation tools in their employees’ hands will win the war for talent.

Case in point: success profiles, which have long been key elements of talent strategy — from the employer’s point of view. Success profiles can and should benefit employees equally, since benefiting employees strengthens the business.

Valuable employees, lacking clear career maps, shouldn’t need to leave their companies for better jobs when they could be profitably retained by smart internal recruitment and guidance.

Even providing employees with pathways to lateral moves inside the company — new jobs offering fresh challenges without a promotion — is 2.5 times more powerful a predictor of retention than better compensation, according to MIT Sloan Management Review.

Success profiles should be the GPS to these opportunities — guiding employees’ journeys from where they are now to where they want, need and will profit from going.

Dynamic Digital Success Profiles Lead To Success via Multiple Paths

Effective success profiles can lead employees directly to their goals, or to new roles that at first may seem unrelated but turn out to develop valuable transferable skills. They can even allow discovery of careers employees haven’t even considered.

Well-designed success profiles should illuminate pathways to career growth and satisfaction, success on the job, a sense of purpose, mentoring, visibility as candidates for advancement, having a voice on cultural and social issues and — above all — continuous upskilling and reskilling as part of everyday workflow.

Democratized success profiles aren’t traditional static job/skills descriptions. They’re living, three-dimensional, digitally dynamic resources updated in real time by internal and external talent and business market data and customized for each person’s use. L&D professionals will want to look at success profiles one way, a business leader/team-builder another — employees yet another.

Integrating Success Profiles into a Talent Intelligence Cloud Success profiles are a core element of a new and better approach to L&D: integrated talent intelligence clouds.

Digital L&D solutions are nothing new. Until recently, however, even the most advanced companies had to stitch together multiple solutions, Frankenstein-style, to execute even primitive holistic L&D strategies.

Many companies’ digital L&D solutions are siloed — isolated islands of potentially high-value insights that don’t cross-pollinate or enrich one another.

The pandemic’s spotlight on L&D’s true business value triggered a stampede to integrate point solutions into talent intelligence platforms powered by AI trained on data and analytics from years of historical workplace insights.

Talent intelligence clouds are governed by big data’s immutable rule: garbage in, garbage out (GIGO). The cloud with the richest, widest, deepest, best analyzed and most inclusive data will indeed yield GIGO — gold in, gold out.

Success profiles — real time, dynamic, invaluable to organizations and their employers alike — will be a major element of talent intelligence clouds that empower L&D to unleash the full power of organizations’ real superheroes — their people.