L&D’s role as Canada’s CEOs share future growth plans

Many of Canada’s CEOs are experiencing a major attitude adjustment. They’re facing today’s rapid business change with less certainty, but greater ambition.

According to the 2017 KPMG CEO Outlook Report, Canada’s CEOs realize using the same strategy year after year and operating at the same pace will eventually leave their company lagging. Organizations who’ve contributed to Canada’s economic success using traditional methods are now stepping out of their comfort zone to remain competitive and continue to grow. I imagine their learning departments also are stepping out from the comfortable classroom training modalities to explore better ways of meeting modern learners’ needs.

From the 1,300 CEOs surveyed across the globe, 51 were Canadian. The results uncovered different ways Canada’s CEOs plan to prepare their employees for change and how they’ll take the initiative to disrupt before being disrupted.

Improve innovation and speed to market

The top Canadian companies are constantly evolving and discovering new, improved approaches to stand out from competitors. Many CEOs agree that innovation is an important factor to success today, along with speed. In fact, 25% of the 51 CEOs from Canada stated that they plan on improving their speed to market. Much innovation today stems from advanced technology. But instead of letting new technology disrupt the company, CEOs can use it to their advantage to improve their speed to market.

This means that L&D has a pivotal role in equipping the workforce to an ever-changing environment amongst transformative technology and innovation. And learning professionals themselves, must also continually improve their own skills to keep pace.

Gain access to talented professionals

The survey revealed that Canada’s CEOs believe high-performing employees impact a company’s success, as access to talent was selected as one of the top barriers to growth.

However, companies can break this barrier by encouraging agile, continuous employee learning and development. It may require companies to invest in new technology and implement new learning methods such as content curation and other systems, but skilled employees are the backbone to any great business.

Go digital

The primary focus for Canada’s CEOs this year is digitization. Our world is becoming more digital every day, and companies must stay on top of the latest digital trends to gain the upper hand against competitors. Investing in digitization can help increase efficiency, as it enables organizations to automate processes and communicate faster. In turn, digitization establishes more engagement between employees and with clients.

Digital learning, embedded into the work flow, becomes important to meet business needs and meet the learner where they are. While classroom training isn’t going away, learning is becoming more informal as digital tools enable skills at the time of need.

Heading toward a bright future

Canada’s CEOs have gained a positive reputation in the past few years. The KPMG CEO Outlook Report showed that Canada is more economically stable compared to other countries. While the future’s uncertain, Canada’s CEOs plan to focus in on making the most of today’s technology for innovation, efficiency, stronger employee development and improving speed to market. If companies follow through with these plans, Canada is likely to remain economically competitive and experience growth.

Learning and development, in turn, plays a critical role in equipping the workforce with digitization and agility. The pace of learning agility will increase, and I can imagine we’ll evolve from our interconnected digital learning systems to entire learning ecosystems that will equip Canadian employees with the just-in-time learning they’ll need to stay competitive.

But there’s quite a path we need to take to get there and even to meet CEO’s needs today. Not to mention, as learning professionals, we’re an integral yet invisible part of the business outlook. So, I challenge every learning professional to accelerate proactive, informal learning to keep pace. And we’ll await the day when the headline reports speak to an adaptive, empowered workforce that’s spearheading growth in Canadian companies.

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