Article: How L&D is fueling business success in the AI era

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How L&D is fueling business success in the AI era

Understanding the evolving nature of L&D in the age of AI across organisations in India through LinkedIn’s 2024 Workplace Learning Report and the perspectives of industry leaders.
How L&D is fueling business success in the AI era

The advent of AI has changed business, people and management functions irreversibly. While the impact of technology is more evident in some HR functions, like hiring and employee engagement, L&D leaders are also gradually adapting to a new world of learning and upskilling. To make learning interventions more engaging and valuable, it’s essential for L&D leaders to take a closer look at how AI is changing employee expectations, career trajectories and learning formats. To empower L&D professionals with incisive insights and a trove of valuable data, LinkedIn recently released the 2024 Workplace Learning Report.

The report reveals key trends dictating the evolution of L&D, based on responses from over 1,636 L&D and HR professionals who have some influence on budget decisions, along with 1,063 learners. Enriched with behavioural insights based on billions of data points generated by more than 1 billion LinkedIn members in over 200 countries, it also contains comments and suggestions from global leaders on their approach to solving pressing learning challenges. 

Top priorities and challenges for L&D in 2024

As learning, upskilling and reskilling take centre stage in effective workforce management and engagement, L&D has also emerged as a crucial lever for business success. With AI rewriting the rules, here are the top five focus areas and opportunities for L&D in the coming year:

2024 L&D focus areas: Globally, aligning learning to business goals is the top focus for L&D for the second consecutive year. However, for L&D professionals in India, the biggest focus is on upskilling employees, followed by aligning learning to business goals, creating a culture of learning, helping employees develop careers and improving employee retention. Notably, helping employees develop their careers has climbed 7% on L&D’s priority list in India compared to last year.

AI’s influence on L&D: Four in five people in India want to learn more about using AI in their work. Data shows that people are highly motivated to learn AI skills and are driven by career progress. The report indicates that learners who establish career goals are four times more likely to engage with learning compared to people who don’t have similar goals. In other words, organisations must embrace both AI skill-building and career progression to motivate and retain talent.

Surajit shares, “In this rapidly evolving world, our teams need to learn not just traditional content, but new-age content relevant to all roles – especially around AI and generative AI. New-age learning platforms such as LinkedIn Learning are creating content on an ongoing basis for emerging global needs. They also help our people find relevant content with curated learning paths, and AI-driven recommendations. Accelerated learning is helping our teams to learn faster, which is key to innovating faster both in our products and work practices.”

L&D’s executive role: According to the LinkedIn Executive Confidence Index, 9 out of 10 global executives plan to increase or sustain their current level of investment in L&D, including upskilling and reskilling. However, India bucks the trend of this increasing access to C-suite as the percentage of Indian learning professionals who say L&D has a seat at the executive table has decreased by 5 points in the last year, compared to an increase of similar points globally over the past two years.

Business incentives for L&D investments: An analysis of LinkedIn learners shows that a stronger learning culture leads to an increased retention rate (57%), higher internal mobility (+23%) and effective pipeline management (+7%). These findings can help learning professionals make a business case for L&D investments to drive desirable business outcomes.

L&D’s impact on work purpose: The report says that learning has a discernible effect on people’s ability to connect and engage with their work. In India, 8 in 10 people say learning increases their ability to connect with the company (compared with 7 in 10 globally) and that learning enhances the purpose of their work. This is critical in building organisations with motivated, engaged and committed workforces that partake in organisational success.

Fostering agility through skilling in the AI era

Cultivating a learning culture that achieves organisational growth requires building transferable skills and learning agility, which allows employers to harness the right skills at relevant times for emerging roles. This requires redesigning traditional L&D models and processes to personalise learning journeys. 

Here’s how L&D leaders can make their organisations agile and flexible by leveraging new-age learning approaches:

Personalised learning experiences and mentoring

The first shift has to occur in the design of skilling models. Data shows that an evolving approach customised to employee career motivators is essential for learning to be effective. In contrast, large-scale learning programmes that aim to collectively reskill hundreds or thousands of employees increasingly show lacklustre returns. Besides being expensive, these programmes have largely been in the planning stage for the past two years, indicating their limitation in being timely. Compare this with the top reasons why Indian employees want to learn — making progress in career goals, personalised learning for interest and career goals and staying up-to-date — and it becomes more apparent that the future of learning is centred around employees.

Ritu highlights how LinkedIn Learning enables this personalisation, “Harnessing the power of new-age learning platforms like LinkedIn Learning, businesses can achieve their L&D goals. These platforms offer a range of benefits, including microlearning modules for busy schedules, diverse content formats to cater to different learning styles, and comprehensive course libraries for up-to-date knowledge acquisition.  Personalised learning paths further enhance skill development, while cost-effective solutions and valuable governance tools empower businesses to cultivate a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce, ultimately driving enhanced business performance.”

Comprehensive learning support

About 40% of organisations are achieving positive business results from investments in career programmes. A few common aspects of these programmes include leadership development (70%), shared internal jobs (58%), mentorship (57%), individual career planning (49%) and internal mobility (44%). Unsurprisingly, Gen Z employees (those born after 1996) are 16 percentage points more excited about potential career paths in their companies through learning and upskilling. This can help L&D leaders leverage a highly engaged workforce cohort to build critical, future-facing skills that can weather uncertainties. Furthermore, coaching and mentorship are key focus areas, as 41% of companies in India are investing in career mentoring and coaching to boost retention. AI can further help make coaching scalable, personalised and relevant.

Growing significance of internal mobility

L&D professionals are turning to internal mobility solutions for better retention, higher agility and cross-functional knowledge building. There is a growing recognition that encouraging people into different internal roles can reap positive business results, as 96% of L&D professionals in India say they can show business value by helping employees gain skills to move into different internal roles. However, the on-ground implementation leaves a lot to desire. For instance, while 30% of Indian organisations have internal mobility programmes, only 1 in 5 Indian employees feels confident to make an internal move. Similarly, there is a lack of absolute clarity on who owns and drives internal mobility programmes, with Indian respondents in the survey attributing the role to head of human resources (50%), head of talent management (44%), head of L&D (44%), head of talent acquisition (44%) and distinct internal mobility leadership (44%). 

Scripting L&D’s success story in 2024

There’s a need to envision and implement impactful ideas that bypass traditional learning challenges with innovation and creativity. Here’s how L&D leaders can integrate a strong culture of learning in their workplaces and cultivate a purposeful vision:

  • Improve analytical skills: Making the most of AI tools requires fundamental data literacy and analysis capabilities. Data analytics can help align business strategy with learning, secure buy-in from top leaders and personalise learner journeys. This trend is affirmed by the fact that 54% more L&D professionals have added analytical skills to their LinkedIn profiles over the past year.
  • Measure the right data: It may be time to pull the plug on vanity learning metrics that fail to measure the impact of L&D and focus on data points that chart business outcomes. L&D professionals in India are focusing on metrics like employee productivity (50%), performance reviews (37%), closing workforce skill gaps (35%), new skills per learner (30%), team or organisational metrics (28%) and employee retention (24%).

  • Focus adequately on soft skills: In the age of AI, building human capabilities or soft skills has become urgent. With 91% of global L&D professionals agreeing with this sentiment, it becomes clear why L&D leaders in India are also witnessing an increase in the importance of interpersonal skills (+103%), learning management (+99%), problem-solving (+87%), analytical skills (+82%) and presentation skills (+78%).
  • Make learning a continuous journey: Instead of allocating distinct time and attention toward learning programmes, find ways to make it more engaging and personalised so that learners can upskill in the flow of everyday work processes. This trend of microlearning or nano-learning, which includes short bursts of instructions, can make L&D interventions more pointed. It is then no surprise that 28% of L&D teams in India (and 47% globally) are planning to implement microlearning programmes in the current year.

The findings of the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report 2024 convey the growing importance of the L&D function in achieving employee, business and organisational goals. This period of transformation presents several exciting opportunities to make workplace learning people-centric and dynamic, but the time to act is now. Read the full report here to understand how to make organisational learning more effective.

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Topics: Learning & Development, Skilling, Leadership, #OneHR

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