By Corporate English Solutions

03 July 2023 - 15:38

The evolving role of learner personas

Maximise the potential of your learning personas to address key L&D trends and organisational challenges in 2023. Packed with relevant data, learning personas can help steer digital transformation and achieve wider organisational goals.


Reading time: 6 minutes

Are you harnessing the full power of your learner personas to address wider organisational needs and strategic goals? 

Not sure how? Then it’s time to take a fresh look at your learning personas. 

True, they are detailed profiles of fictional anticipated learners. And yes, they are mostly used for designing personalised and impactful learning.  

But look again!  

How packed they are with data and insights. How useful they are beyond instructional design for training initiatives. Drawing inspiration from marketing and User Experience Design (UX design) today, we see how personas are evolving and can support other organisational strategies and initiatives.  

While creating a user persona is nothing new for most L&D teams, there are some strategies you can use to enhance the value of your personas.  

Create a learner profile, a handy one-pager, as if based on a real person by including a fictional name and stock photo. Visual thinking is key: design an easy-to-navigate persona, like this one, to help keep in mind your persona; even talk about the persona using their name to guide strategic and operational decisions.  

Capture the learners’ vital demographic and psychographic information. Include their motivations, backstory, educational background, job roles, challenges and preferences. Identify real learners with similar needs, preferences and pains to create a range of distinct personas. Remember, validate and refine the personas regularly. Gain feedback from stakeholders, experts and your target audience to keep them accurate and helpful. 

As an L&D tool, personas can turbocharge user engagement and motivation. By combining design thinking with market research, product development and strategy, UX helps us understand the learner experience and journey, supporting the design of user-centric learning experiences.  

But that’s not all. Think of your personas as market insight into your different employee groups. They can achieve much more than improved learner experience.   

Read on to discover a fresh take on learner personas and maximise their value to support your organisation’s strategic needs.

1- Identify future skills gaps 

In today’s fast-changing business environment, there has been increased focus on continual upskilling and reskilling. Identifying potential future skills gaps is crucial to ensuring future success. 

Did you know you already have your finger on the pulse? Mine the personas and information gathered to identify emerging and future skills gaps. Consider market trends and industry needs data as well as each persona’s future career aspirations and goals. By understanding these, you can identify the skills they will need to enhance or acquire and align learning initiatives to prepare your workforce for future success.  

This creates two ripple effects: Firstly, optimised learner engagement through personalised learning experiences based on the unique requirements of different learner personas. By providing future skills learning, you reinforce your organisation’s commitment to career development and enhance your culture of learning.  

And the other ripple? Enhanced knowledge retention and transfer of skills, leading to a capable, confident workforce, equipped to navigate emerging challenges, embrace new technologies, and succeed in an ever-evolving business environment.

2- Support remote and hybrid teams 

No surprise that remote and hybrid work continue to increase. But have you refreshed this user persona recently? 

Once refreshed, leverage this persona to gain a deeper understanding of remote and hybrid teams beyond the context of learning or training. Reimagine your personas as a tool to tailor strategies, policies and support systems to better meet the needs of the remote and hybrid workforce.  

Get granular about the skillsets, preferences, needs, and challenges of hybrid and remote employees. Identify their communication preferences, ways of working and collaborating as well as how they manage their well-being.  

Use insights gained to support leaders to tailor their communication strategies to effectively engage and connect with remote and hybrid teams, ensuring that they feel understood and develop a sense of belonging to the organisation.  

Know what makes your teams tick and work well together. Harness the insights to foster effective collaboration and teamwork through strategies and resources that facilitate communication, understanding and relationship-building, enhancing engagement and team performance.  

Set your employees up for success by mining the personas for data about workspaces, tools and working arrangements. Do they need specific equipment, a dedicated home office or flexible working arrangements? By accommodating these needs, organisations can support their teams to maintain focus, balance and productivity.  

And personas are effective tools to aid employee well-being. Use insights on potential challenges, such as isolation, burnout and work-life integration. Offer mental health resources, promote work-life balance and provide opportunities for social connection.

3- Guide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) goals, objectives and strategies 

Take a data-driven approach to DEI. Leverage the data in your learner personas to support the development of DEI workplace policies and practices

Here’s how:  

Use the nuanced and holistic picture to shape DEI strategies, identify diversity gaps, establish programmes that address barriers and create environments where everyone can thrive.  

Establish and sustain Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to help employees from diverse backgrounds share experiences, access support and opportunities.  

Ensure your recruitment processes are inclusive and equitable. Use insights to help write inclusive job descriptions, advertisements and selection criteria to attract a diverse pool of candidates.  

Adapt your communication means and style to accommodate diverse communication preferences and cultural backgrounds. You’ll build an inclusive and respectful environment and make your communications more impactful.

4- Enable digital transformation 

Digital transformation is everyone’s business: Drive it in your organisation by mining the data in your personas, including users’ competences, knowledge, abilities and preferences relating to technology. 

Support business leaders to make informed decisions about digital learning strategies and resource allocation through enhanced knowledge about the technological preferences and capabilities of different learner groups. 

Maximise insights to design adoption strategies that match diverse audiences’ barriers and concerns. Develop tailored communication plans using methods that align with communication preferences to convince and motivate diverse teams to take action. Provide appropriate support resources for employees at different stages of adoption, skill levels and acceptance.  

These insights are also essential for effective digital learning solutions. Align digital tools and platforms with learners' expectations, skills and comfort levels and provide a user-centric experience tailored to diverse groups.  

Personas hold the key to facilitating a smooth transition and increased acceptance of digital tools and platforms, driving successful digital transformation.  


Having invested time and resources in creating your learner personas, now’s the time to leverage the data for wider organisational needs. Remember, keep them current, solicit feedback and refine them so they remain an invaluable tool for aiding decision-making and achieving strategic organisational goals.

With over 80 years’ partnering with organisations, we work closely with teams to ensure your people and organisation have the skills and tools they need now and for the future. Contact us for a free consultation.