The Future of the L&D Function with getAbstract

Learning and Development have been instrumental to organisational change, as businesses are adapting to accelerated change and the shifting of priorities. The L&D function is undoubtedly evolving but how can it bring sustained strategic value and ensure it across the whole organisation.

The BTN has partnered with getAbstract, the world's largest digital library of business book summaries, articles, video-talks and podcasts from the best business minds in the world for a fascinating roundtable discussion with leading People executives across business.


The roundtable was led by Jayne D'Silva (VP Sales, UK & Ireland at getAbstract) and the conversation brought about the following insights:

Leaders need a new skill set to help with the new way of working

Employee health and well-being have been one of the most prominent topics to come out of the last 18 months as employees start to feel the effects of the changing world of work. As L&D, we now need to be thinking about how we work and more importantly, how we learn.

Not everything works perfectly online so we as leaders need to understand how we can facilitate the use of technology in its optimum way. The continued and accelerated use of technology has changed the way that we interact in society, with some employees only knowing virtual methods to interact and engage with their peers.

“You can’t network when you’re not in the office” seemed to be a comment that came out from the group regularly. Networking and creating social engagement should now be purposeful activities that become something that is planned. Some of the skills that people developed historically when in the office around learning and socialising were simply done by accident within the office environment. We should now be rethinking some of these social collaborations and as leaders starting to figure out what works for individuals and teams.

Managers need to be coaches and L&D should be custodians of the journey that our managers and leaders go on. If we can utilise aspects of marketing and communication skills within our skillset and treat our employees as customers, then we will be able to talk the language and walk the talk.

How can we as leaders be more inclusive with the multitude of personality types within our organisations?


Learning: The only constant thing is that it’s ever-changing.

The pandemic has brought about an abundance of issues and challenges but from a professional point of view, it should have modernised the way we worked. Our mindsets should be that we don’t want to change it back.

The psychical classroom will be the exception, not the norm, going forward. This evolutionary change and modernisation of learning have meant that we have had to redesign our programs as the pandemic has shifted the pace of change. There has been progression across L&D with the digital online experience and the needle has been moved from ‘shifting’ to ‘everyone has it’.

Jayne, who was leading the conversation, spoke openly about the pivot with a lot of their clients being very reactive at the start of the pandemic with the online learning experience, yet only now are they starting to truly realise they need to be proactive and strategic with the type of content that is shared and more importantly with regards to the platform of choice.

We have challenged a lot of the preconceptions about what we used to think we could do virtually and we now can’t expect to be having the same conversations we used to have as it’s potentially not what’s needed anymore.

Upskilling and reskilling are so important to stay ahead of the game but when it comes to performance, we should be looking at creating a mindset shift to use different language. Through using a digital mindset and embedding agile, our employees are effectively being given the permission to learn and can reap the benefits of learning in the flow.

We inevitably need to restructure L&D by looking at what capabilities do we need in X years to achieve our strategy as a business. If we can align the business goals with those within L&D, we can continue to show real business benefits.


What do we need to achieve from our learning? The mode is secondary

The blended/hybrid approach that many organisations have taken will result in some employees in the office and some at home, resulting in it being very difficult to simply do what we did before.

We must look at the way we blend learning and intersperse the blended aspects into our day to day activities. Our end goal should always be the North Star for learning. What’s the model that will work for what we are trying to achieve? What conversations do we need to be having? How do we create the right environment?

We should be always be considering and looking at aspects such as our carbon footprint and what we want it to look like but our end goal should be our focus.

There was a common agreement that there had become a much bigger dropout of people taking part in the training. Meeting fatigue, in general, has meant that training is perceived as another  ’meeting’ instead of an investment of time that leads to personal and professional growth. It is much easier to not click a link than not turn up to a physical meeting.

People are using tech in their day to day lives at an unimagined accelerated rate so as employers and especially as L&D, we should take advantage of that. Our workforce now has the expectations of highly personalised learning. This used to be based on job roles/groupings but there are now very different career aspirations. Our employees expect us to know what they need to learn! We can be content-rich as an organisation but our employees want to know what is specific for them and their personal ambitions, whereby learning becomes part of them owning their own path.


Employee engagement is interrupted as people want to stay at the organisation. Training is sometimes seen as a ‘cherry on top’ but L&D leaders have a real opportunity to show that we care about our employees and invest time in them. We can no longer keep churning out content, It’s about considering a wide range of delivery methods and activities that give learners the opportunity to learn, reflect, collaborate with peers, re-learn, and, most importantly, apply the learning back into the workplace.

The lack of social collaboration which is a crucial factor in learning has had an impact on learning performance and L&D need to come up with creative and interactive ways of maintaining a social connection between employees where they can learn from each other.

As L&D leaders, rather than pleading for money, we should angle our value as performance consultants. Wellbeing and caring for our employees will always be at the heart of what we do but we should be able to explain “here is the value we can add” and ultimately what impact this can have on the bottom line.

We need to be open-minded as L&D. Everything still has to continue within our business operation so we need to find the sweet spot that works for you as an organisation.


Do you want to know how to develop a high-impact learning culture?

getAbstract has put together a sensational whitepaper that looks at the importance of building cultures that prioritise learning and growth. Download it here


About getAbstract

getAbstract is the world’s leading provider of curated and compressed knowledge. getAbstract finds, rates and summarizes the top business books, articles and video talks into 10-minute abstracts. The library consists of more than 22,000 text and audio summaries in areas such as leadership, finance, innovation, self-development and science. getAbstract helps organizations worldwide develop a high-impact learning culture to maintain a sustainable source of competitive advantage. More than one-third of the Fortune 100 companies trust in our principle of progress through knowledge and offer their employees access to the getAbstract corporate business solution.