Why learning needs to be a main part of talent management in 2022

Reading time: 8m

AuthorNatalie Ann HolborowDigital Content Specialist
Reading Time8 minutes

You may have heard frequent whispers around the ‘Great Resignation’ and the ‘war for talent’ over the past year. In a new, hybrid world of work, talent management has moved higher on the agenda as it becomes increasingly challenging to find and retain the best people. The shift to remote work means there is now less emphasis on where talent is located and more focus on finding the right skill sets to meet evolving business demands.

Now is the time for you in learning and development to take a more central role in talent management in your organisation.

Perhaps there are skills gaps you need to fill. Perhaps you need to develop strategic capabilities for the future. Perhaps there are training issues affecting performance and productivity. This goes beyond just recruiting and onboarding.

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) reported that on average, it costs a company six to nine months of an employee’s salary to source a replacement, so it makes sense for organisations to now focus on the talent they have within their own workforce rather than outsourcing.


What is talent management?

The CIPD defines talent management as seeking to “attract, identify, develop, engage, retain and deploy individuals who are considered particularly valuable to an organisation. To be effective, it needs to align with business goals and strategic objectives.” In Europe especially, research by Fosway has revealed that ‘talent’ does not mean ‘all staff’, as it often does in the US. Instead, it often means “a specially selected subset of executives and senior leaders, high performers, graduate in-takes and fast-track specialist roles, which could be referred to as ‘critical talent’.

However, without including L&D as part of the wider talent strategy, this can lead to confusion and a lack of cohesion between L&D and the HR department, adversely affecting the growth and development of employees as well as that of the organisation.

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Breaking down the silos of talent management

The 2022 Linkedin Workplace Learning Report notes promisingly that learning leaders are breaking down traditional silos to collaborate on a more holistic vision for HR. This correlates with the growth in roles concerned with talent today. What the creation of these new roles relating to ‘performance’, and in particular, ‘talent’, implies is that individual functions within HR and L&D are now seeing a convergence.

One real-life example of this was demonstrated by the learning sector recruitment specialist Blue Eskimo, which recently expanded its business to include many different HR vacancies. Nick Jones, the company’s director, highlighted that “many organisations now see L&D and HR as two aspects of the same thing—the skills-acquisition strategy.” This has resulted in a range of new roles, including:

  • Rewards/benefits managers
  • Organisational development managers
  • Talent managers

Likewise, organisations within the healthcare sector in particular, such as our partners Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) Leadership, has seen a greater focus on talent management to achieve strategic objectives for the organisation. Roles such as ‘Talent Acquisition Lead’, ‘Head of Resourcing and Talent’ and ‘Director of Leadership and Succession’ reflect the growing conversion of HR, talent and L&D roles within organisations.


Why is learning central to the talent management strategy?

The Work Institute identified 52 different reasons for leaving a company. In their 2021 Mid-Year Employee Retention Report, findings for the leading rate of attrition correlated with the previous 11 years—that career reasons continued to be the number one cause of an employee leaving the company. If employers are intent on retaining current employees, they need to focus on providing them with a clear pathway for career development.

Learning is a core enabler for talent management as a whole. Learning professionals need to look at skill-based planning and internal mobility as part of the talent management strategy to encourage a culture of continuous learning. Skills profiles within the organisation help to map competencies against where staff are currently and what needs to happen to help them fulfil required roles.

It’s encouraging, therefore, to see that in the past two years L&D has been seen by leadership as critical to helping the workforce adapt and upskill to changing models of working. Budgets have grown, and along with it, the expectation that the learning function will continue to influence how the workforce adapts for the future. Research has revealed that 46% of L&D professionals say the skills gap is wider in their organisations and 49% say executives are concerned that employees do not have the right skills to execute business strategy versus 2021.

Learning is central to the overall culture—employees want and expect opportunities to grow and flourish within their roles with access to learning in the flow of work and ample mentoring/shadowing opportunities.

Time for L&D to take centre stage.


Learning management systems (LMS) versus talent management systems (TMS)

In our blog post, ‘LMS vs LXP: Which one should you choose?’, we discussed the key differences between the learning management system (LMS) and the learning experience platform (LXP). Considering whether you need to look at a talent management system (TMS) only makes the process more complicated.

The trends in learning technologies functionality reflect the increased demand for joined-up talent management processes between the business, HR and L&D. Fosway’s research sheds light on how this wider, talent-oriented view is becoming “a consistent feature of organisations’ buying decisions behind their LMS and other learning systems.”

Fortunately, there are learning systems today that enable you to clearly map out career pathways based on current skills and capabilities, and identify any skills gaps to be remedied. Say, for example, you have a cohort of new starters in your customer service department. You could assign mandatory onboarding training, but then build more specialised training and content recommendations into individual pathways based on career ambitions.

The reporting insights afforded by learning technologies allow for an ongoing review process, allowing skills gaps to be identified and remedied as necessary. Visibility of learner reports for line managers within the learning system provides detailed insights prior to performance reviews and ascertains stakeholder involvement throughout. When combined with communications tools within the learning system, a coaching dynamic ensures learners are continuously supported throughout self-directed and remote learning journeys.

No longer do you have to painstakingly compare learning systems against talent management systems. Integrated learning systems such as Thinqi enable you to focus on talent management without compromising on learning management or experience.

In summary…

As an L&D professional, you’re likely feeling the pressure of increased responsibility and expectations to lead the way in digital transformation. When only 15% of L&D pros say they have active upskilling and reskilling programs, and only 5% have made it to the stage where they’re measuring and assessing results, it’s evident that there’s work to do on L&D’s own skills and capabilities when it comes to fulfilling increased expectations around their roles.

In our latest series on talent management, we at Thinqi are here to help you feel equipped and energised to lead the way to create a skilled workforce of tomorrow that has learning embedded firmly in organisational culture.

It’s time to think smart. It’s time to talk talent.

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