Among small and medium-sized businesses, human resources and learning and development are often managed in the same function, often with the same tools. However, organizations of any size can benefit from re-examining how they are managing their people functions and improve the collaboration and integration of talent acquisition, management and development.

“Learning professionals often collaborate vertically within their line of business leaders,” writes Jordan Snedaker, vice president and senior learning and development consultant at Wells Fargo. “However, they often miss the critical opportunity to collaborate horizontally with other functional partners.” Snedaker continues that recruiting and development should not be independent but rather like branches of a tree.

In that vein, Learning Technologies Group (LTG) is growing quite a tree. Its latest acquisition, PeopleFluent, adds talent management to its learning and development portfolio, which also includes learning tech firm LEO Learning, authoring tool gomo learning, serious games studio Preloaded, compliance training consultancy Eukleia, e-learning software company Rustici Software and learning management platform company NetDimensions (which it acquired last year).

The market, says Jonathan Satchell, chief executive of LTG, is showing a “tighter relationship between talent management and learning and development.” Similarly, Workday, which was founded in 2005 to sell cloud-based finance and HR applications, launched Workday Learning in 2015, expanding into L&D. And Ceridian, which recently launched an IPO, combines human resources, payroll, benefits, workforce management and talent management on its human capital management platform, Dayforce. Combining functions on one platform, says Lisa Sterling, chief people and culture officer, “creates efficiency while covering the entire lifecycle of an employee – from hire to retire.”

Being able to start at hiring and see an employee’s entire path at an organization helps talent leaders better identify gaps and develop strategies to improve individual and business performance. And while “the separation of learning and talent may have been necessary to bring focus to the talent agenda at the end of the last century,” says Piers Lea, chief strategy officer at LTG, “with a digital transformation, [they] need to be brought back together.” The new focus on business impact that LTG and its client companies have means looking at more than training participation – “i.e., put the right people in the right job, and then help them be the best they can be.”

Integrating Talent Functions

“This starts at the top,” says Lea. He says organizations are increasingly giving CLOs “talent and learning” responsibilities, merging L&D and talent teams, “talent taking the lead over L&D, and many other forms of integration to modernize the approach.” Here are some tips to help these functions work well together:

  1. Make sure the platforms and systems each function uses are able to “talk to” each other. That means the technologies you use for hiring, onboarding, performance management, compensation and training are either part of the same platform or integrate with each other. Otherwise, you’ll end up in a situation where your right hand doesn’t know what your left hand is doing – and they definitely don’t know about the rest of the body.
  2. Train managers and coaches on the talent acquisition, management and development processes and platforms your organization uses. Make sure they know how to use them to effectively manage, coach and develop their teams.
  3. Strategic alignment is key for the success of any department. Make sure all talent and learning goals are aligned with the strategic goals of the business. This requires regular communication with executives and defining success metrics for each function that are aligned with the way the business is measuring success.
  4. Nurture a cohesive employer brand. From recruitment to hiring to onboarding to training, employees should encounter a strong brand at every stage of their time with the company. Employer branding will help attract good talent and cultivate a positive organizational culture.
  5. Segment talent to personalize management and development strategies. Doing so will help ensure maximum return on your talent investment, according to Korn Ferry.

Integrated talent management, according to Korn Ferry, can result in improved morale, productivity, customer satisfaction, innovation, financial performance, and efficiency as well as decreased turnover. By merging different “people functions,” or, at the very least, making sure they’re working well together, your organization can see improved results from your talent investment. One final word: “My tip is for leadership teams in this space,” says Lea. “Ask the right questions, invest a little and the rest will follow.”