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LEARNING ALONE DOESN’T DRIVE BUSINESS FORWARD. SKILLS DO.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, 22nd Annual Global
CEO Survey, 1/2019
Eight out of ten CEOs say skill shortages threaten their companies’ growth.1 These shortages are stunting innovation, hurting quality, and limiting the pursuit of market opportunities.
Learning and development (L&D) teams are expected to provide answers. The problem is that traditional approaches — which largely rely on live classroom training and online courses — are missing the mark.
To better understand the challenges and help form more effective strategies, Degreed and Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning surveyed 772 executives, managers, and employees from all over the globe. We collected data on how they’re learning, what factors are limiting their growth, and what support they want from their organizations.
In this report, we’ll share these findings and offer three solutions to keep your skills in sync with your growth.
1 SKILLS PUT LEARNING TO WORK
2 L&D ISN’ T WORKING FOR THE WORKFORCE
3 LEAN INTO HOW LEARNING ACTUALLY HAPPENS
4 COMMIT TO THE NEW FUNDAMENTALS OF L&D
5 SHIFT FROM LEARNING TO SKILLING
The disconnect between C-suite executives and enterprise learning strategies often comes down to impact. Executives look for measurable impact, but many L&D leaders are still focusing on knowledge retention, course completion, and satisfaction surveys — learning.
To better tie learning strategies and investments to meaningful business results, the most progressive business leaders are beginning to make a distinction between learning and skilling.
Learning is about information transfer and retention, not necessarily application and impact. If knowledge is transferred, learning is happening, even if it doesn’t solve any particular problem.
SKILLING VS LEARNING
1 skills put learning to work
Skilling is the transfer of knowledge with an intent to bring impact through behaviors and actions on the job. When people are able to apply knowledge to address specific issues, they are using their skills.
Learning, while comprehensive, is fleeting if left unapplied; skilling is targeted and purposeful. Skills can be benchmarked, quantified, and analyzed. Today’s business world is always changing. It requires continuous upskilling and reskilling focused on growth, not just learning.
This difference can be crucial for workers and companies, just ask Kraft- Heinz. The food giant spent the last few years squeezing cost efficiencies out of its operations while neglecting the skills it needs to excite customers and retailers — innovation, marketing, and
merchandising. Meanwhile, its sales have gone backward by $229 million since 2016 and executives recently lowered their forecast for future profits by 25%.
Learning will always be the cornerstone of these strategies, but right now, building skills is what’s most urgent. The World Economic Forum expects more than half the global workforce will need new skills in the next five years.2 But doing that requires fundamentally different approaches to learning and development.
World Economic Forum, The Future of Jobs Report, 9/2018
Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning, The State of Leadership Development: Meeting the
Transformation Imperative, 4/2018
THIS IS THE MOMENT WE’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR
54% of the workforce will
require significant upskilling and reskilling
within the next five years.
80% of business leaders
believe more innovation is needed in learning
Many L&D teams say they put workers at the center of their plans but our data shows that this isn’t the case — it’s much easier said than done.
Our researchers asked people about the L&D opportunities at their organizations, and the results are alarming. We found that the Net Promoter Score (NPS) for learning and development across organizations is -25.
2 L&D isn’t working for the workforce
DOES YOUR LEARNING WORK FOR YOUR WORKFORCE?
Engineering and R&D
Operations or Product
Logistics and Procurement
-100 -50 0 50 100
-100 -50 0 50 100
-100 -50 0 50 100
-25 -100 -50 0 50 100
Champions are needed. Only one out of every five people are promoters for their organization’s L&D, while nearly half are detractors. The least satisfied are employees in non-management positions, who give L&D an NPS of -33. The most satisfied respondents were those who work in HR.
The low scores indicate that our respondents are either unaware of their companies’ learning opportunities, or the right opportunities are simply not offered. Instead, people are pursuing independent learning activities to fill in the gaps for themselves:
HOW THE WORKFORCE REALLY LEARNS
outside the flow of work
in the flow
articles search videos podcasts social
mobile apps books
% WHO USED EACH
IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS
every month every quarter less often
webinars and webcasts
online courses (on my own)
online courses by employer
live classes (on my own)
live classes (at work) certification programs
The most advanced L&D teams put these independent, unscheduled learning activities at the center of their strategies. They are data-driven, leveraging informal learning to upgrade capabilities continuously, and aligning that informal learning to business objectives.
Our data shows that people are constantly reading, searching, listening, and watching in the flow of work. However, the disconnect between these independent learning activities and enterprise L&D efforts means limited visibility into which skills employees have and which ones they are working to build. Without this detailed data on learning behaviors and objectives, leaders can only provide standardized — and largely ineffective — corporate L&D strategies.
Even though most organizations are behind on skills initiatives, the workforce is not waiting around. Workers are painfully aware that today’s skills have an expiration date. Gartner research shows only 20% of workers are confident they have the skills they need for the future.4
This data exposes several opportunities for L&D to better connect with the workforce by offering the right opportunities for everyone. This will entail three strategic shifts for L&D professionals:
Lean into how learning actually happens.
Commit to the new fundamentals of L&D.
Make the shift from learning to skilling.
Gartner, Shifting Skills Survey, 9/20184
Classrooms and curricula are a huge part of organizations’ L&D offerings and budget spend, but they’re just a small part of how workers, managers, and executives actually build their skills over time.
Just 50% of our respondents took any kind of live class or online course last year. Those who did only did so every three or four months. So this begs the question, if they’re not in class, how is the workforce actually learning?
3 lean into how learning actually happens
PERSONALLY AND SOCIALLY
Most learning happens independently or with close colleagues. Organizations’ official offerings are used much less.
Accordingly, the most enlightened L&D teams focus on connecting people with the right resources — content, colleagues, and insights — not just delivering classes, courses, and programs. They create the conditions for learning, not only the general structure.
THE WORKFORCE DECIDES WHERE THEY LEARN
specific websites (e.g. YouTube, Harvard Business Review…)
internet search engine (e.g. Google, Bing…)
my professional network
my manager or mentor
my team or peers inside my company
online social networks or communities (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn…)
my company’s learning system or portal
my company’s HR/training/learning team
my company’s social or messaging tools (e.g. intranet, Yammer, Slack…)
Which of the following did you consult for guidance or recommendations when you needed to learn something for your job or career last year?
THROUGH THE RIGHT TOOLS
Learning can happen anywhere, not only in stand-alone apps. But our data shows that some tools are better for learning than others.
People want learning integrated into their web browsers and office software. They are less interested in learning within collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams or HR systems like Workday.
Sometimes people just want to get things done. The smartest L&D teams will note the difference and integrate accordingly.
web or mobile browser (e.g. Google, Bing)
office or productivity tools (e.g. Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
job-specific applications (e.g. Salesforce, Marketo, Jira)
HR or HCM systems (e.g. Workday, ADP)
messaging and collaboration tools (e.g. Slack, Teams, Workplace, Yammer)
BOOST UTILIZATION: Promoters of their companies’ L&D strategies are 3.9x more likely to consult their talent development teams and 2.4x more likely to use their organizations’ learning systems.
BOTTOM LINE: The more utilization, the more efficient L&D becomes. Companies can get more out of the assets they’ve already paid for by leaning into how learning actually happens.
the value of getting it right
WORKPLACE TOOLS CAN ALSO PROVIDE GUIDANCE
useful extremely useful
How useful would it be to have access to recommended learning resources while you are working in the following software?
The game has changed. L&D departments were not initially designed for today’s habits — learning independently and incrementally, through multimedia, professional networks, and workplace tools.
Top L&D teams are revising their assumptions about how to support learning. They’re listening to what the workforce wants and making three fundamental adaptations:
4 commit to the new fundamentals of L&D
In our survey, two-thirds of detractors disliked their organization’s approach to L&D. They criticized unclear priorities, inadequate investment, and inconsistent, limited opportunities.
Among promoters, though, 81% of comments praised their firms’ L&D strategies. They cited more thoughtful
planning and more relevant and diverse opportunities.
What explains the difference? For detractors, learning is exclusive, managed from the top down. For promoters, learning is empowering and inclusive.
FROM MANAGING LEARNING TO EMPOWERING DEVELOPMENT
detractors that say their organization’s approach to L&D is POOR
promoters that say their organization’s approach to L&D is GOOD
IT’S ALL IN YOUR APPROACH
what promoters say
Customized to my professional needs. It isn’t…just to fulfill HR’s goals.
Learning is offered at all levels and is tailored to individual needs.
My employer invests constantly in my development and learning.
Designed specifically to be in line with my professional development needs and relevant to my work.
There is an incredible degree of investment across the entire organization.
We have a real focus on growth, both as a company and individuals.
Leaning into the ways that employees are already learning every day will allow more visibility into how, what, and when they’re building their skills. This is why top L&D teams are putting their employees into the driver’s seat and allowing them the autonomy to pursue the skills they need.
what detractors say
They do not regard people as critical to the organization’s success.
Plans are designed to optimize cost and maximize reach — it makes sense from an HR point of view, but quality and value are scarce.
HR is providing this with a tick-the- box attitude rather than a vision of employees’ skillset growth.
Learning and development opportunities seem very fragmented and lack coordination.
We place value on development but lack a clear process and initiative.
Nearly half of the workforce says the biggest constraint on their learning is time. They also report that 86% of learning happens in short bursts of 45 minutes or less.
In the past, L&D created content for a captive audience. Those days are over. Workers don’t have time, and there are plenty of useful resources that employees come into contact with every day through recommendations, searches, or manager feedback.
Instead of creating more content for learning, innovative L&D leaders are creating the conditions for learning. They embed more learning into the flow of work to make skill development part of everyday routines. They focus on building consistent learning habits and providing better tools to support those habits.
FROM CREATING CONTENT TO CREATING CONDITIONS
TIME IS NOT THE ONLY CHALLENGE
I don’t have (or make) the time to learn
lack of guidance or direction in learning
my company doesn’t recognize or reward learning
my manager doesn’t encourage or enable learning
I am overwhelmed by too many choices
the learning at work is not engaging
the learning at work is not relevant
I don’t know where to find learning opportunities at work
What are your biggest obstacles to job-related learning or professional development?
Our research indicates that people who feel like their employers invest more in their development tend to be more satisfied with L&D. So how can L&D make people feel these investments with limited budgets?
One key is more guidance and resources (not simply more money). Our data shows that people learn through a diverse array of channels and formats. It also shows that, by providing a wide variety of learning opportunities, including articles, videos, podcasts, on-the-job projects, career guidance, and coaching, you can make people feel learning and skill development more consistently.
FROM ALL-IN-ONE SYSTEMS TO INTEGRATED ECOSYSTEMS
FROM ALL-IN-ONE SYSTEMS TO INTEGRATED ECOSYSTEMS
A more diverse L&D ecosystem — a network of the right tools, content, insights, and people — better enables employees to make learning part of their routines every day and every week. Give them options to pursue the skills they need to build in a way that works for them.
the value of getting it right
BOOST RETENTION: Promoters are 21% less likely to have left their organizations for a new role in the last five years.
Keeping people feels good, but this isn’t only about feelings. It’s about impact. According to the Work Institute, the cost of voluntary employee turnover is roughly 33% of the employee’s annual salary. 5
MAKE PEOPLE FEEL IT
$1000 to $2,499
$100 to $999
$0 to $99
Sears, 2017 Retention Report, Work Institute5
how much employees think their companies
Roughly how much money do you think your company invested in your individual training
and development last year?
ALIGN LEARNING TO GAPS
Let’s be honest: People are motivated to learn mostly for personal gain. This motivation is among the most powerful drivers of employee engagement. So when we asked how L&D could be most helpful, respondents replied loud and clear:
5 shift from learning to skilling
Assessments to find out where I need improvement. (48%)
Aligning learning to my skill gaps. (61%)
Top L&D teams offer short, simple assessments to help people understand what skills they need to fill important roles, to stay ahead of disruption, and to reach both personal and business goals.
After individual assessments and benchmarking, these leading L&D teams align their workers’ skill-building to larger organizational goals.
aligning learning to my skill gaps
assessments to find out where I need improvement
providing opportunities to apply what I’ve learned
specifying my interests / building my own profile
my choice of content formats (e.g. courses, videos, articles, podcasts…)
learning paths or playlists suggested by my company
recommendations based on my professional network’s activity
recommendations based on my professional activity history
game mechanics (e.g. competition, leaderboards, rewards or badges)
THE WORKFORCE WANTS GUIDANCE ON WHAT TO LEARN
Which of the following would be most helpful in making your learning more relevent to your job or career goals?
Improving management habits is a huge opportunity for L&D. An annual performance review is not enough guidance. Workforces thrive when managers give learning recommendations, open up development opportunities, and agree on relevant goals for upskilling.
GUIDE, ENABLE, REWARD
Easy as 1, 2, 3. Even when showing great initiative, workers still need guidance. Our survey shows that encouragement, recognition, and direction are in short supply.
MANAGERS DON’T PROVIDE CONSISTENT GUIDANCE OR SUPPORT
held an annual performance review
gave regular feedback on performance or skills
conducted periodic check-ins
offered projects or other development
the value of getting it right
BOOST AGILITY & PERFORMANCE: Promoters are 27% more likely to have moved into a new role on another team and 28% more likely to have earned a promotion in the last three years.
Flexibility and promotions are good indicators of individual performance. Plus, they also signal a healthy, agile organization. McKinsey’s research finds companies that reallocate talent dynamically also perform better financially.
recommended learning resources
helped create a plan or set goals for
To stay ahead of disruptions and seize opportunities, the most advanced L&D teams make sure learning is more than just content and more than a one-size-fits- all experience.
Effectively building the skills to grow and create value requires an expansion of the current data set many organizations use today. It requires evolving data that
6 ready to put learning and skills to work?
takes into account when, where, how, and what employees are learning.
It’s finally our time. Now that skills are a top concern for CEOs, L&D leaders have a chance to transform their organizations. With a user- centered approach and the adequate data, the right skills strategy can drive business forward.
7 demographics & methodology
This research was undertaken during the period January 21–February 3, 2019. 5,938 Harvard Business Review Advisory Council members were emailed the survey. Of these, 772 completed the survey — a response rate of 13%. The margin of error for this survey is +/- 3.4%.
The following were excluded from the survey:
• Companies/organizations with fewer than 1,000 employees
• Those not in full-time or part- time employment
• Those in education and government/NFP
• Those working in training or mentoring functions
• Chief HR Oficcers and Chief L&D Officers
SURVEY SAYS…HOW THE WORKFORCE LEARNS
front line workers
companies with more than 10,000
companies with 1,000 – 9,999
Asia PacificLatin America
Europe, Middle East, or Africa
WHERE THEY LIVE WHERE THEY WORK
WHAT THEY DO
Degreed helps you build the skills you need next. We integrate and curate all the resources people use to learn, all in one place — including learning management systems and millions of courses, videos, articles, books, and podcasts from thousands of sources. Then we use behavioral and data science to continuously analyze everyone’s skill- sets, and to automatically personalize development based on their unique skills, roles, and goals.
Harvard Business Publishing Corporate Learning partners with Global 2000 companies to co-create engaging leadership development solutions that align with strategy and engage learners. An affiliate of Harvard Business School, we leverage faculty, Harvard Business Review, industry experts, technology, and a collaborative mindset to help clients discover something new and deliver dynamic learning experiences from highly focused executive leadership programs to enterprise-wide engagements for thousands of global employees. Learn more at www.harvardbusiness.org.
ABOUT HARVARD BUSINESS PUBLISHING CORPORATE LEARNING
GET TO KNOW US BET TER Ready to transform your employees’ learning experience? Get in touch today to find out Degreed can help simplify, amplify, and optimize your L&D.