HR Spotlight – Corporate Learning: Transformation Accelerated

October 26, 2021
Season 2, Episode 15

Associate Principal Dorothee El-Khoury talks with Senior Director, HR Advisory Services David Polacheck about the latest trends in corporate learning and development.


Show Notes

Welcome to the Hackett Group’s Business Excelleration Podcast, where – week after week – we hear from experts on how to avoid obstacles, manage detours, and celebrate milestones on the journey to world-class performance. This episode of the podcast dives into learning and development and covers the latest trends and practices emerging in real time. We’re joined by David Polachek, HR Advisory Services Senior Director at The Hackett Group and Dorothee El-Khoury, Associate Principal at The Hackett Group. 

To begin, David discusses how learning leaders are navigating these disruptive times. The first of the three biggest themes he has observed are around structure and governance for learning and development teams with a focus on demand management. This ensures HR learning teams have clear expectations with customers in terms of their capacity and support models. The next area is around technology, given the rise in technology learning’s development and accessibility. There is now a larger focus on choosing technology solutions which will drive real benefits and versatility. Finally, we are seeing a tighter integration between learning leaders with other talent functions, more broadly referred to as strategic workforce planning. This refers to the capabilities your organization will need in coming years and to what degree those capabilities are available in the market. Learning leaders, peers and other talent COEs are working together to develop a learning agenda which supports broader talent priorities.  

Then, David provides insight into the key themes companies are investing in within the learning space. From a learning team standpoint, he says we are seeing lots of investment in soft skill content. There is a prevalent need for training around various aspects of equity and inclusion. Additionally, there is increased investing in AI-based learning, with Walmart being just one example. This provides the opportunity to teach people about things that would otherwise be difficult to comprehend outside of the specific situation. More broadly, companies are looking at their own learning tech, considering learning experience and content curation and determining how it helps further their needs.  

Next, David identifies some of the key game changers in the learning space. Most predominantly is the remote enablement of most learning environments. Additionally, there are skills which will be needed within organizations that are not prevalent in the workplace or talent marketplace today. These include roles such as data scientists, artificial intelligence experts and digital expertise. There is an opportunity for learning leaders to build skilled individuals which aren’t currently sufficiently available for hire. There remains the question of how to build the experience of online learning to be on par with traditional classrooms.   

Listen as David answers the question: Is remote work here to stay? But in terms of how people learn, the human brain hasn’t changed in the last 18 months. While the delivery of learning has gone through dramatic shifts, there are a variety of learning styles to account for. Remote learning will likely remain an option for populations who may need it. Learning is often the first target for cost reduction within businesses. Across most aspects of learning, the majority of companies saw their budgets staying the same. Learning leaders on the defining edge of their company will be on the budget increase side of the equation.  

Finally, they discuss the predictions of employees playing a larger role in their respective companies. The realm of companies and their levels of maturity exists all across the spectrum. While some are at peak maturity in their cutting-edge approach, others are still in the past or in between. There is an evident shift across the board of a democratic approach to career development and employee empowered learning. Employees are now encouraged to be in more collaborative conversations with their managers  


  • 0:52 – Welcome to this episode, hosted by Dorothee El-Khoury and featuring David Polacheck! 
  • 1:22 – How are learning leaders navigating these uncertain times? 
  • 4:35 – Key themes for companies investing in the learning space.  
  • 6:55 – Key game changers in the learning space.  
  • 9:48 – Is remote work here to stay?  
  • 12:02 – Are companies increasing their learning efforts?  
  • 14:12 – Predictions for employee advancement and empowerment.  
  • 17:47 – Thank you for listening!