Business challenges are numerous in this new world of work, and the learning and development (L&D) space is no exception. Skills have less staying power as technology evolves faster than ever. While over half of the global workforce needs new skills, remote work has completely changed the way we learn and perform those skills. On top of that, the war for talent has made it challenging to even attract quality talent. These new challenges have placed L&D teams at center stage with an increasingly critical role in enabling their organizations to either thrive in this new era — or wither.

Let’s take a look at some key strategies L&D teams can use to lead their organizations into the future of work:

1. Design Learning Paths for Employees and To Address Business Needs

Continual learning and growth are central components of an employee value proposition, and L&D teams tend to focus on exciting learners and creating a growth mindset. While these efforts are important, they can create a softer perception of L&D by business stakeholders.

A strong L&D program establishes a foundation for long-term business success and delivers real impact. It directly improves business outcomes by enhancing the performance and productivity of teams, reducing dependency on hiring externally, increasing retention and helping an organization better navigate change. As a result, L&D can also drive faster internal staffing, higher utilization, a lower cost structure, and ultimately, more sales to clients.

To take a more business-centric approach, start by building deep partnerships with your business stakeholders. Know their strategies, challenges and future trends, and design L&D solutions around organizational goals. And be sure to define, measure and reinforce metrics that show impact — not just activity.

2. Focus Employees’ L&D Choices on the Most Critical and Advanced Skillsets

According to industry data, the half-life of professional skills has diminished from around 10-15 years to about five years, with more advanced technical skills at just two and a half. On top of this, 65 percent of Gen Z say they are worried about choosing the wrong post-secondary education path.

Organizations cannot overlook the importance of L&D in the employee experience. Skills acquired in college can lose their relevance within just a few years. Thus, giving employees the flexibility and support to advance their skills in-role ensures their roles remain relevant and establishes a pattern of learning.

At Cognizant, we help our people understand they can navigate these changes without ever needing to put their career on hold by positioning our L&D ecosystem as a place where employees can gain:

  • Skills to deploy to their next project.
  • Skills to ready them for what’s next in digital.
  • Skills they choose to grow based on their passions, interests and professional goals.

We empower them to own their development plan, while also proactively delivering learning when they need it to remain relevant. Our focus is on empowering our people to take multiple roles without having to switch companies.

3. Design for Scalability

L&D teams aspire to engage all employees in every location at every career stage. With this goal, effectiveness ultimately comes down to scalability — designing a strategy, structure and technology to achieve maximum reach and impact, and ultimately maximize return on investment (ROI).

Consider how the L&D team is set up in your organization. Is it a think tank center of excellence or is it integrated with employee and business cycles? At Cognizant, L&D is an integral human resources (HR) operations function and a critical component of our overall human capital management system. It is embedded in how we hire, onboard, train, deploy, assess performance and progress people through their careers, delivering targeted interventions as part of day-to-day operations.

Cognizant created a learning ecosystem that makes the most of resources: We leverage our dedicated team of L&D professionals, experienced business practitioners who serve as subject matter experts, best-in-class content curation organizations and partnerships with leading technology firms who help to deliver niche training.

Lastly, Cognizant’s L&D organization has optimized and scaled up platforms and technology. Shifting to 100% virtual learning through the pandemic has advanced the technology and curriculum design significantly, but a blended experience is still critical to maximize impact. This includes access-from-anywhere learning platforms, impactful in-person experiences, gamification, social interactivity and much more.

As all organizations navigate how they will win with talent and remain future-ready, ongoing education and training remain foundational. L&D teams must revisit even tried-and-true strategies to ensure they are maximizing impact for their employees and their businesses.