L&D Annual Benchmark Report - Part 2
The second instalment of the 2023 Annual L&D Benchmark Report explores the critical role of L&D in driving business transformation and its pivotal shift from ‘training provider’ to ‘strategic business partner’.
The research illustrates how the most accomplished L&D teams forge deliberate and powerful connections between activities to amplify their impact on outcomes. The findings reveal that top-performing L&D teams are twice as likely to collaborate closely with business leaders who recognise the alignment between learning initiatives and the overall business plan. Based on data collected from L&D leaders, the report outlines:
- The challenges faced by L&D leaders in aligning their activities with business goals
- How the landscape is evolving in 2023
- What L&D teams can do to achieve greater synergy with core business objectives.
Alignment is a process that needs constant attention, which is why top-performing organisations hold it at the centre of everything they do. If an activity isn’t serving the business, it isn’t a priority to them. Alignment starts by getting to know the business better. Business acumen is an increasingly neglected skill for most L&D teams, but it’s essential for an effective learning leader.
L&D teams cannot always rely on senior leaders in the business to define clear objectives, or to communicate them effectively across the organisation. But business environments do predict organisational priorities, so with greater knowledge about the business, L&D can meet its needs without having to be asked.
STATS YOU CAN TRUST
Most of the data in this latest report is collected online from learning leaders who take part in the Learning Performance Benchmark. The Benchmark is a free resource that helps L&D professionals to reflect on their learning strategies, to think about and prepare for the future, and to compare their learning maturity against other organisations.
Thanks to the many firms that have taken part over the last 20 years, there is now a growing dataset of responses from more than 11,000 L&D leaders. This research includes new data for 2023 collected from 912 learning leaders worldwide, across 19 different industries.
This year, the research finds that 30% of L&D teams do not have a learning strategy. This isn’t going unnoticed by business leaders. One of the things business leaders are most concerned about in 2023 is L&D lacking the strategic influence to support transformation. They believe that L&D teams are ineffective at persuading people in the organisation to perform and behave in a way that aligns with the direction of the business.
Capabilities, persuasion, influence and negotiation have consistently been low on the list of skills L&D teams possess in house. But without these skills, it seems that L&D is at risk of being siloed by its own senior leaders. Only one in five business leaders believe that L&D contributes significantly towards the achievement of the three goals they are prioritising in 2023.
This is possibly because L&D isn’t being seen as the strategic powerhouse it could be. The result of this is that when decisions need to be made, business leaders won’t be turning to their L&D teams in the first instance... if they turn to them at all.
THE STRATEGIC ALIGNMENT BLUEPRINT FOR L&D
For those teams that do have a learning strategy, one-third have had the same strategy in place for more than two years. This means that most are either operating without a clear plan of how they’ll achieve their goals or with a plan that’s potentially outdated. Due to the speed at which business leaders’ priorities for their L&D function can change, it’s essential for L&D to check that the learning strategy is fit for purpose regularly and continually.
There are many activities that can help L&D define and maintain an effective learning strategy that’s close to the business. A lot of these activities have seen an increase in popularity over the last 12 months. Today, a higher percentage of L&D teams are piloting projects, auditing their skills and using data to measure the impact of learning programmes. However, the number of L&D teams benchmarking their strategy against other organisations in their industry is still low.
This 40-page research report reveals how top-performing teams are behaving, how alignment helps organisations to achieve more, and the ways in which successful L&D teams strategically align with the business.
- Download L&D in organisations: Reflecting on 20 years of research – Part 1
- Part 3 will explore how L&D teams can develop longer-term, dynamic strategies that evolve with the needs of the business.
Senior Researcher at Mind Tools for Business