The role of a chief learning officer has never been more integral to the success of an organization and its workforce. Companies have been forced to rapidly and continuously adapt over the past two years to meet the evolving needs of employees and workforce dynamics. At the forefront of this transformation are CLOs, who are the primary strategists, technologists, architects and caregivers of employee enablement and company culture, focused on the transformation of people processes and systems through learning.

For CLOs, providing relevant opportunities and resources to advance mindsets and skill sets is a calling, one that requires them to fully democratize and socialize learning in globally digital and inclusive contexts, while simultaneously influencing and inspiring the heads and hearts of learners. As chief curators of diverse learning experiences, the future for CLOs and their teams is expansive. With this, it will be important to stay focused on three areas of transformation in the coming year.

Make DEIB Core to Your Strategy

The past year has inspired many of us who lead learning to place a bigger, bolder emphasis on delivering content centered around diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB). Many L&D teams took the opportunity to redefine how they could better focus on sustainable DEIB across both remote and office-based ecosystems. By moving beyond a training-led strategy to a holistic learning experience strategy requires an assessment of the systems and processes in place, as much as learning content.

First on the agenda is accessibility — ensuring that all employees have equitable access to learning. We know that learning can open doors and ensures future-ready cultures for everyone.  In order to accomplish this, CLO’s will have to build DEIB competency on their teams, in leaders across the organization, and demonstrate strategic commitment to it.

Focus on Mindsets as Much as Skill Sets

According to a study conducted by PwC, 74% of employees are ready to learn new skills or completely retrain in order to remain employable in the future. If an organization wants to retain talent — which, given the onslaught of The Great Resignation is paramount — and appeal to today’s employees professional needs and wants, encouraging and facilitating continuous learning is crucial.  If the past few years have taught us anything, it is that leadership competencies are not just for people with leadership titles. Core skills like resilience, empathy and agility are organizations’ lifeline for success moving forward.

Building a learning culture that focuses on the value of growth and leadership will enable employees to understand how better to lead themselves through challenging projects, ask hard questions, and maintain a mindset of curiosity, growth and continuous learning. Learning today is an exercise of both the head and the heart, and in order to inspire the heart, CLOs are called to infuse storytelling and interpersonal exercises into learning to target learning so that it is on demand, woven into the flow of life and work, and resonant with employee priorities and career aspirations.

Democratize the Learning Experience

The World Economic Forum (WEF) estimates that 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025.  Right now, CLOs and their teams are in the process of moving from focusing on what people need to be learning and instead on how employees need to and can learn, and in what settings. This digitized perspective inspires an innovative approach to learning technology. Gone are the days where we upload content into one platform where employees go to absorb it. Here to stay are the days where learning happens across multiple platforms, using multiple modalities — where a manager can assign training from an employee messaging platform, where an employee who works night shifts can take a training course on their iPhone, and where an employee engagement survey can correlate manager satisfaction scores with a leadership learning path.  As we continue to adapt to our evolving work-life environments, new technologies and digital learning solutions can create connectivity and extend learning transfer for the short and long term.  For CLOs, now is the time to embrace the moment and invest in creating globally inclusive online spaces for learning.

In a world that has been and will continue to be digitally interwoven, the CLO plays a vital role in organizational continuity, transformation, and growth. Learning knows no boundaries, and now is the moment for CLOs to build, enable, and empower a global workforce to open doors of possibility and potential for their learners.