Can L&D drive long lasting change?

L&D teams are often tasked with driving long lasting change, but are they really up for the job? We think not, and here’s why.

If you look at mine and Toby’s LinkedIn pages, you see a long history with Learning and Development. Between us we’ve got nearly 25 years of experience in this area. We get it.

Which is exactly why we’re moving away from L&D to focus on HR. Or People. Or Employee Experience, whatever you want to call it.

So why exactly are we turning our backs on nearly a quarter of a century of experience? Because we don’t think L&D can drive long lasting change.

L&D is too siloed.

Firstly, L&D can be great and effective, if in a limited area. It can also be very siloed, not actually listening to the needs of the business and churning out content that it feels is relevant. Not a strategy that is going to drive long lasting change.

It can also be siloed away from other HR initiatives. Employee wellbeing; Diversity, Equality and Inclusion; internal comms: all of these may have great working relationships with L&D, but they often have their own targets to reach. Too often those targets actually compete against each other, to the detriment of employees. Does that sound familiar?

Content is not the thing that will make people think differently.

Think of all the content you’ve consumed in the last week. How much of that made you think differently or do something differently? Now drill down into why it made you do something differently.

Chances are you were in the right place at the right time with the right headspace. In marketing, we talk about “Conversion rate,” which is the percentage of people who make a purchase out of all of the people who see the offer. The average conversion rate is 2.9%. Not even 3 people in 100. Higher conversion rates come when the potential consumer is in the right place to make the purchase when they see the offer. It has to be the right offer, at the right time.

L&D don’t have enough control over the Employee Experience.

Which brings us onto the next point, that L&D doesn’t have enough control over the headspace of employees, or over the Employee Experience.

Even if you have the most super-duper, whizzy L&D team there is, they can’t control the environment that people are working in. 

If your people are working with wrong systems, in an environment that just doesn’t work for them, they won’t be motivated to change. Too much of their cognitive load is taken up trying to adapt to a system or environment that frankly should have adapted for them. Things like constant context switching. Complex systems that aren’t fit for purpose, so you end up trying really complicated workarounds. Physical environment, whether that’s the distractions of the office or the isolation of home.

Unfortunately, that’s not something that L&D can fix in isolation.

If not L&D, who can drive long lasting change?

We believe that if people are motivated and in the right environment, they will begin to change their mindsets. They will find the shortcut to make their job easier, take the initiative to go and learn something new, find the right way to do something. With a mere 10% of the UK workforce actively engaged, there’s a massive opportunity to do things differently.

It’s HR who can help them to get there.

If you look at the whole employee experience, if you can map out the user journey for your employees and start treating them like customers rather than resources, you can drive long lasting change.

That’s what Freeformers do

We help you apply customer experience principles to your employee experience. And we call this CX4EX.

We talk to your people, get down to the nitty gritty of their lived realities, and present you with solutions for how you can drive long lasting change for your people.

A right and holding Rubix cube puzzle
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