3 minute read 13 Oct 2021
Two business people with wheelchair and VR goggles in the office

How L&D teams can reimagine learning in a new era of work

By Amy Walters

Manager, EY Lane4, EY Professional Services Limited

Specialises in human performance with a focus on applied psychology. Translates academic thinking and research into practical solutions for business. Visiting lecturer at Bath University.

3 minute read 13 Oct 2021

Now that reskilling is critical to organisational success, there are four big shifts that L&D teams can make to enhance performance.

In brief

  • In the new era of work, reskilling will be critical to both individuals maintaining stable employment, and organisations remaining future-fit.
  • COVID-19 was a turning point for digital learning, but L&D still has a way to go for learning to consistently enhance performance.
  • L&D will need to undergo four big shifts to successfully reimagine learning.

The rapid onset of automation means that many organisations will have to continuously undergo digital transformation to stay future-fit1. This will require organisations to increasingly focus on using learning and development (L&D) to reskill their employees. Fortunately, a recent survey suggested that employees are aware of the critical role reskilling will play in their careers, with 80% of people indicating that their strongest motivation to learn at work is to do their jobs faster or better2.

Therefore, providing employees with relevant and adaptable L&D is pivotal on three levels: it will offer individuals stable employment, enable organisations to survive this era of rapid change, and help to avoid the societal costs of unemployment.

Just as bite-sized digital learning became common-place, the COVID-19 pandemic significantly accelerated the digitalization of L&D. Professionals were left with no choice but to become well-versed in both synchronous virtual experiences, such as live classroom sessions, and asynchronous digital learning, such as tailored learning modules people can complete in their own time. However, despite this turning point, a recent Chartered Institute of Personal Development study found that 66% of employees still don’t understand why they are engaging in L&D3.

Today’s L&D departments and teams still have progress to make if they want to successfully reskill millions of employees. Research shows that learners want personalised content, tailored recommendations and more bite-sized mobile learning that can be seamlessly integrated into work4,5,6.


Download the full report: Learning reimagined (PDF, 1.9MB)

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This white paper shares four big shifts L&D teams need to make to turn learning into performance:

1. Integrate learning-in-the-flow-of-work and work-in-the-flow-of-learning

Learning should both be seamlessly accessible whilst employees are going about their daily tasks, and also quickly applicable in a work context once it has been delivered. Achieving both goals maximises the chances of learners retaining the information they need to successfully complete their tasks as their roles evolve.

2. Develop adaptable, autonomous learners

84% of learners desire self-directed learning7, meaning that both self-regulation and unlearning skills are now critical to successful L&D. Self-regulation is the ability to actively assume personal responsibility for one’s own learning8, whilst unlearning is the deliberate act of letting go of outdated habits, processes and behaviours9. Developing both skills in learners will be critical to learning successfully driving performance.

3. Build a culture where continuous learning is inevitable

Reskilling is critical for organisations to become future-fit. For reskilling to be as successful as it needs to be, L&D departments and teams will need to drive a culture change in learning which promotes the roles of coaching, feedback, experimentation and ownership. Achieving this will help create an environment where continuous learning, and therefore career success, is inevitable.

4. Give learners what they didn’t know they needed

Data and artificial intelligence (AI) can be leveraged to offer learners curated information relevant to the challenges they’re currently facing, by noticing patterns in their working habits (e.g., what time they are sending emails) or the upcoming events in their calendar (e.g., brainstorming or strategy planning). Relying on an increased use of data and AI does have ethical implications, meaning that L&D teams will have to bear the responsibility of ensuring learners’ safety. Nevertheless, L&D teams adopting a data-driven approach will be able to make learning increasingly tailored to each individual and their specific needs, making it a key driver for performance.

L&D has a key role to play in supporting organisations and employees through the reskilling revolution. In successfully making these four big shifts to reimagine learning, L&D teams will help organisations and employees stay agile in a world of constant flux. 


With continuous reskilling and technological breakthroughs becoming key determinants of the current working landscape, L&D is entering a new era. Future-fit learning will offer people exactly what they need, right when they need it. L&D teams who overcome the challenges of delivering personalised learning and using a data-driven approach ethically will see the role and reputation of learning within their organisation transformed.

About this article

By Amy Walters

Manager, EY Lane4, EY Professional Services Limited

Specialises in human performance with a focus on applied psychology. Translates academic thinking and research into practical solutions for business. Visiting lecturer at Bath University.