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How To Setup The Learning And Development Department At Your Workplace

The work structure of the Learning and Development (L&D) department must be a blend of the right people with correct data. The role of the concerned teams is shifting in tandem with the evolution of learning and development. To take on these increased duties, leaders must have the necessary skills and competencies.

To comprehend what should constitute modern L&D teams, you must first learn what employers seek in new workers. Additionally, you need to understand what the L&D function means to seasoned practitioners. While some L&D specialists want their employees to be familiar with the organisation and its environment, others want them to be driven by the desire and drive to learn.

In the L&D job market, it’s clear that most recruiters are looking for mental agility along with soft skills in the candidates, such as a bias for action and an innovative bend of mind. L&D professionals should be able to demonstrate their influence as well as contributions quantifiably.

Project management and analytics are the most sought-after hard skills. L&D professionals must be adept at both leading initiatives and reporting on their progress using data-driven analysis. In addition, many organisations choose to hire personnel with an HR background for their L&D department.

However, before they can create a learning culture, recruit professionals or apply cutting-edge teaching tools, L&D executives must examine their structure, methods and governance, as well as construct a stable yet adaptable framework for providing learning. In this post, we will go over the three primary alternatives for the L&D department at the work structural framework: centralised, decentralised and hybrid, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Designing A Strong Learning Backbone

The learning backbone is primarily concerned with the location of learning personnel within the organisation. While the learning staff is present throughout a range of business divisions in a decentralised approach, the L&D department is centralised in HR or its freestanding location in the centralised method. A hybrid function, also known as a federated structure, is a combination of the two.

The Upsides And Downsides

According to a McKinsey Academy research, 23% of the L&D functions are centralised, 46% are hybrid and 27% are decentralised, with 4% of respondents having no idea what their L&D organisation is. Each backbone has its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Centralised L&D Teams

The core learning team whose members report to single learning or HR executive provides tight coordination, which helps to avoid duplication of learning initiatives and delivers economies of scale. The role is responsible for the budget, resources, L&D talent, external relationships, vendor management and standards and guidelines for the entire company. However, there is a danger to centralised learning teams being less responsive to business unit needs.

Decentralised Learning Teams

Individual business units take ownership of learning initiatives, thanks to decentralised functions that tailor initiatives to their operations, needs and people. On the other hand, the learning function has limited oversight under this approach and learning programmes lack a clear link to the C-suite. As a result, programming may lack cohesion.

Hybrid Learning Teams

Hybrid functions are becoming the norm in larger businesses. A central team designs professional and leadership development programmes, establish and enforces standards, and oversees online learning platforms and tools in this approach. In contrast, business units are in charge of technical learning (and often deliver enterprise programmes).


This structure enables better links with business units while allowing for more significant economies of scale, particularly in systems. Hybrid models, on the other hand, can complicate communication and coordination by blurring distinctions and making it unclear who leads what initiative.

4 Factors While Determining The Right L&D Department At Work Structure

Four variables define the location of the learning function within an organisation:

The Parent Organisation

In theory, the L&D function, regardless of its location, benefits the organisation. The structure and size of the broader organisation vis a vis the placements of adjacent activities determine whether the organisational structure is centralised, decentralised or hybrid.

Learning Priorities

The learning function’s responsibilities and outputs have ramifications for its organisational structure as well. According to executives, people managers and talent developers, soft skills such as leadership, communication and teamwork are more critical than role-specific abilities.

The organisational backbone of the learning function is influenced by the relative relevance of various learning goals. A strategy to develop role-specific technical skills would need to be more aligned with individual business units. In contrast, an approach to enhance leadership development would need to be more associated with corporate leadership — such as concentrated inside HR.

Learner Needs

L&D departments must understand the learners’ business environment well enough to discern genuine challenges underlying a request to give successful learning. Indeed, learning and development professionals are frequently entrusted with challenging and altering business units’ ideas of skill development and learning delivery.

They must also comprehend the more technical parts of business units’ requirements to translate and deliver learning that effectively meets those requirements. The more specialised the background, the more alignment between the L&D department and the various business divisions is necessary, which may necessitate a hybrid or completely decentralised architecture.

Scale Or Resource Efficiency Are Both Important Considerations

As previously stated, centralised learning and development services can more readily avoid duplication of effort and benefit from economies of scale. A centralised structure is more cost-effective in an organisation with limited learning money relative to the number of people. Yet, it may be less responsive to changing demands in business divisions.

The Bottomline

It’s worth noting that regardless of their backbone, businesses retain specific centralised capabilities such as learning-technology platforms and digital material. Most firms, for example, would prefer not to maintain multiple learning management system platforms.

After deciding on the learning organisation’s structure, the following step is to create an agile overlay to address the difficulties that come with it. A future blog article will address how to overcome the inherent flaws of each strategy but each organisation must first determine which backbone is the best fit for them.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

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With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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Find out more about the campaign here.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

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campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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