What’s the difference between HR and Learning & Development?

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Where the main focus for a Human Resources (HR) team is to ensure the effective running of a business and cover responsibilities such as payroll, talent management, recruitment, organisational development and employee engagement, Learning and Development (L&D) focusses on the management of employee training and development needs to fulfil their roles to the best of their abilities.

Are HR and L&D really that different?

HR and L&D functions are often grouped together in the workplace as they’re both focussed on people; however, they do each have slightly different goals.

HR functions have a strategic focus on policy, compensation, regulation, management and performance. They’re also typically reactive when it comes to employee management, i.e., when there’s a problem, HR steps in to mediate.

L&D however, centres more around employee skills, knowledge and competence, taking a much more proactive approach to increase employee satisfaction and retention. This is commonly done by providing tools for employees to learn on the job and chart their career path.

What’s involved in L&D?

According to Toolbox, experts recommend following the 70:20:10 model in an L&D strategy.

This suggests employees are likely to pick up 70% of their skills through their daily jobs, particularly true for young professionals who have just entered the workforce. Then, employees learn 20% of their skills through their peers and colleagues, making it essential for HR to place employees in the right teams, assign the right managers, and ensure that the managers are trained to develop team members who report to them. Lastly, the model suggests that only 10% of all learning happens through formal training sessions.

As popular as it is, however, the 70:20:10 framework isn’t set in stone. It’s a useful rule of thumb to keep in mind when evaluating and selecting the various L&D routes available to you. To those just starting out with building an L&D strategy, these routes could include mentorships, certifications or even basic classroom style training.

However, the use of learning management systems (LMS) where companies can host online learning material to be accessed from anywhere, at any time, and learning experience platforms (LXP) which come with ready-to-consume content, has soared.

According to Statistica, the use of technology-assisted teaching has grown in popularity over the past five years. Today, 71% of companies reported using technologically assisted teaching such as online training courses, and 69% of L&D departments plan on investing more in this technology in the near future.

Should a business keep HR and L&D separate?

It’s not unusual for HR and L&D functions to be merged together in a company, though it’s often because there’s the thought that they do the same job.

It’s never been an exact rule that L&D should sit with or under HR; they’re both individual functions in their own rights and both crucial to a successful business operation. And whilst yes, their functional goals do touch each other, merging them together too much can force HR to act as the middleman between L&D and business leaders. As a result, that can make it more difficult to understand the wider goals, the challenges of reaching them and where L&D plays its part, as it leaves planning and goal setting in a place where it’s constantly filtering through the HR department.

In fact, the position of both departments in an organisation is more about positioning them both as equals, making L&D a partner to HR.

Is L&D still as important now that more people work remotely?

L&D hasn’t been immune to the impact of the pandemic, yet the 2021 LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report shows even with so many employees now working remotely, from home or on a hybrid pattern, it hasn’t taken a step back.

59% of L&D professionals listed that upskilling and reskilling was their top priority, shortly followed by leadership and management at 53% and virtual onboarding with 33% – indicating an awareness for more learning and development opportunities which can be accessed online at any point.

The report also highlights that a total of 64% of professionals now agree that L&D has shifted from a “nice to have” to a “need to have” in 2021, with of 75% of digital Gen Z employees believing that online learning is the key to a successful career.

When done right, L&D has been known to improve workplace culture, bridge skills gaps, and increase employee retention rates.

At BuildEmpire, we’re the platform provider to help.

We’re focused on delivering solutions that not only meet your learning and business goals, but exceed them, and as your technical partner, we’ll work with you to build an engaging learning environment that fits your needs today, and in the future.

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