The Big Thought
How L&D Attracts, Builds And Retains Talent
Does your organisation understand the value of its L&D function?
→ You might not even know.
Many organisations seek the golden elixir to power performance, but they miss the obvious solutions right in front of them.
The L&D function is one of them.
Yes, I’m an L&D pro. So yes, I’m biased. But, hear me out!
In my opinion, L&D has a pivotal role to play in the 3 areas of talent attraction, skill and behaviour development, and finally retention.
Looking beyond Learning and Development teams as just being valued for building people's capability can be a game-changer.
It’s responsible for enabling people to build the skills and behaviours they need to deliver for a business. It can and does provide a lot more too.
Let’s unpack this in more detail ↓
Let’s talk about Talent Development
I believe L&D teams can empower, challenge, attract and retain top talent for any business.
I’ve worked across Recruitment, Talent Development and HR Operations for the past 16-ish years. What I’ve come to find in my time, more specifically in L&D, is how underutilised workforce learning programmes are in talent attraction and retention.
The people world is more connected than we think.
These 3 areas form a connected people experience to support the end to end process of world-class talent management.
That must be the most corpo sounding line I’ve written in a while!
So. how exactly does L&D connect all these components?
Excellent question, friend – let us explore that together.
Recruitment: We do cool stuff, wanna join us?
Why will top talent want to work with you?
→ That’s the question every organisation should ask.
Yes, of course, money will be high on the list. Benefits too, the work and brand power no doubt. Yet, what else can we offer beyond this?
A lot of companies talk about the same standard package to their prospective candidates, so how do you stand out from the crowd?
We know more people want opportunities to grow.
Specifically, how they can build and improve their skills, not just how much money they will make. It’s like Gary Tan said, “At every job you should either learn or earn. Either is fine. Both is best. But if it’s neither, quit”.
This is where your learning offer comes into play.
Many people move to new environments for a challenge that will push them and the opportunity to evolve. L&D can provide this in spades.
One of the common reasons people leave their jobs (behind salary of course) is career progression.
The career game
Many of us look for a new place of work to be part of experiences that enable us to develop the skills and behaviours we seek for long-term growth.
When organisations speak with candidates, I believe they should share what they can offer from an L&D perspective.
Sadly, it doesn’t seem many do this.
Aside from the money, the company car and bean bag chairs, your learning offer could sway the mind of a candidate to join you.
If you feel you’ve built a world-class learning offer that is leading the way in your industry, you should be shouting about it!
This is especially true if you’re part of a business that may not have the ability to be competitive from a salary and benefits standpoint.
Your learning offer, and the opportunities it can bring, can be a strong card to play.
I’ve spoken to many recruiters over the years, seen thousands of job descriptions and rarely have I seen or heard the words “We have some amazing learning opportunities to build world-class skills and a great career here”.
Capability: Skills, behaviours and talent stacks
Building skills is what many people associate L&D with and quite rightly it is the core function of our existence.
As learning professionals, we have the privilege of helping people the world over discover the joy of learning.
It’s in these opportunities to connect people with learning moments that we can enable them to discover things within themselves that they may never have believed were possible.
In simple terms, we help people build their talent stack, the skills and behaviours to deal with the demands of work and navigating life.
How we can help you grow
Creating a world-class learning offer is a big step in showcasing to people how they can grow with an organisation.
If people are aware of the opportunities to learn, act upon them and see the benefits in all areas of life, then of course they will feel more comfortable in their working environment.
A tea-addicted L&D Strategist
I always feel many people, and in particular, business leaders overlook the importance of L&D.
You know it and I know it to be true
They see it as a nice to have rather than a must-have. A box-ticking exercise that must be completed to comply with regulations. This is a real shame.
A nice big salary, benefits and bonus package will only take you so far. The mind is built for challenges and when it does not find them, it will look for them elsewhere.
I like to think of any organisation’s learning offer as the crown jewel of its HR function.
Of course, I’m biased in this, but as I’m trying to demonstrate in this piece, L&D has a wider effect on what I see as the connected people experience.
→ In summary: Build awesome stuff, content of value that will help people grow and your top talent will want to stay.
Retention – please don’t go!
The ever-flowing problem of retaining top talent is an ongoing battle for many organisations.
We have so many choices in today’s world. So, what can you do to stop your people from being seduced by another organisation?
Yes, there is pay. The first popular thing everyone thinks about when trying to convince someone to stay is to throw more money at them.
In some cases, this might work and it might be the source of the problem. However, money is not everything.
Some people, and I most certainly find with what I call top talent, are seeking a new challenge for these reasons:
They wish to be part of a bigger and/or more exciting project that appeals to their ambitions.
They don’t feel that the opportunities to grow exist in the current structure.
They want to learn how to do x as part of their long-term career plans but don’t think the business can support this.
They’re sick of the place.
Of course, I’m not suggesting that we in L&D can provide the solutions to all these problems.
The money problem
What we can do is work with the wider business in developing and showcasing a learning offer that can support the needs of people.
We can help show why the organisation is a great place to work through its L&D opportunities.
I encourage people around me all the time to think beyond the salary and benefits package.
Yes, these are important and I’m not saying you shouldn’t be seeking a package that is in your best lifestyle interests. It’s key to a good life after all.
We know money is not everything.
I’m sure we all know people who are earning large sums of money yet are miserable.
In L&D, we have the power to show people what they could be missing out on if they decide to leave. Especially if a driving factor for leaving is focused on looking to develop their capability.
A well-designed, accessible and regularly communicated learning offer can most certainly make people think twice about the environment they wish to be part of.
You could earn twice as much in another business, great, but does this business provide the same opportunities to grow as you do?
Are these people just thinking short-term? Swayed by the thought of a pay bump that will disappear in the next few years.
Everyone has different outlooks on this.
I’m not suggesting this is a one size fits all tactic as some people will always chase the money.
I truly believe if more organisations sat down with those who are on the fence about leaving and showed them the L&D opportunities available, they might think twice.
L&D can contribute massively to keeping your best and brightest.
I get I’m preaching to the choir here…can I get a hell yeah!?
It’s bigger than you think: The connected people experience
Connection is a big theme for the broader people world.
I believe that HR or people as it’s called in more places these days is one end to end connected experience.
Too many organisations have a disconnected people experience.
This is not helpful to your consumers (the people in your business) or to the teams who are delivering multiple projects across this world.
If we, not only in L&D but in people functions in general, spent more time focusing on building a connected experience for our workforces, we would have a bigger impact.
I hope these words have provided some food for thought, especially for those who are part of the L&D community like myself.
In sum: We have the opportunity to support our business in much more than just ‘capability’ – we can contribute to building an amazing connected HR experience for everyone.
Redefining High Performance with Microsoft: 3️⃣ Key Takeaways
Here’s a breakdown of Microsoft’s Redefining High Performance in the New Era of Work report. You can download your copy here. These are my personal takeaways.
1️⃣ Move fast, adapt and evolve
Life is fast. Like really fast, and so is work.
Microsoft highlights that high-performing teams can and do adapt to the ever-changing times at speed. That’s why knowing your expiring, evolving and emerging skills is so damn important.
It’s a big challenge for L&D teams to meet people where they truly are with today’s skills.
One day you’re focusing on implementing Zoom and the next day the AI chatbot starts writing emails for everyone. I get it. It’s not easy.
The best teams take a focused approach. Identify the 3-5 big things for the majority that will enable the best impact. You can’t do it all but helping people understand the need to adapt is going to be very beneficial for you.
2️⃣ Let AI help you
Yes. Microsoft has a big interest in saying this.
But it has some meaning to it. High performers can only be so if they know where to focus their attention, and what to automate.
AI has a good use case here.
It can automate tasks, support others and enable you (the human) to do what you do best. We talked about this last week with the rise of Copilots. Think about how these could help you.
3️⃣ Together you win
Wolves need the pack to survive, Buzz needs Woody and I need tea.
We’re much better together than you might think. Microsoft’s data tells us that high performing organisations leaders aren’t afraid to:
Co-own new tech rollout plans
Co-decide on investments
Politely debates disagreements
Sponsor their initiatives
The data points are the lowest scoring at organisations that aren’t classed as HPOs.
You can foster collaboration as an L&D pro.
Consider the tools and experience you build. How can you bring people together to create these? I’ve always thought of our industry as connectors of an organisation.
Lean into that role. Connect, nurture and see collaboration grow.