What is a Fractional Chief Learning Officer?

Does your company lack a robust training department?

Focus primarily on compliance and technical training?

Or have a small training team but no senior learning leader who liaises with your C-Suite to ensure training aligns with the skills required to achieve your business goals?

If so, a Fractional Chief Learning Officer might be the perfect fit for your organization. 

According to the Association for Talent Development, companies that offer comprehensive training programs have 218 percent higher income per employee than companies without formalized training.

Yet too many small and growing businesses fail to provide ongoing employee training. Or they hire a trainer who is an industry expert to deliver mandated compliance and technical training.

As a result, too many employees from entry-level to executive don’t have ongoing access to development opportunities. And too often, they don’t possess the skills required to achieve their company’s business goals.

76 percent of employees say that a company is more appealing if it offers skills training to staff, according to Axonify’s State of Workplace Training Study. And 59 percent of millennials say that development opportunities are extremely important when they decide whether to apply for a position, according to a recent Gallup poll.

By bringing on a Fractional Chief Learning Officer, you can access the people development you and your employees need to achieve your organizational (and their individual) goals.

How is working with a Fractional Chief Learning Officer different from hiring a trainer?

A trainer is usually a subject matter expert. They implement skills-based training and typically report to HR or to a training manager.

A Fractional Chief Learning Officer is the person that’s going to be able to liaise with senior leadership and ensure that training is truly aligned with short and long-term business goals.

A Fractional Chief Learning Officer can help you—

  • Identify, develop, and deliver virtual, in-person, or hybrid training that develops your employees’ communication and leadership skills
  • Ensure employees communicate with clarity, confidence, competence, and compassion
  • Create a more equitable workplace where all employees can safely speak up and contribute their ideas
  • Oversee programming for employee resource groups (ERGs) and support workplace allyship
  • Facilitate team building days that improve employee morale, spark innovation, and create cultures that foster safety and belonging
  • Support executives, rising leaders, and high-potential employees through individual and team coaching
  • Design and host internal TED-style speaking events and innovation sprints to cultivate thought leadership
  • Heighten leaders’ presentation skills for speaking and media opportunities

Do you need both a Chief Learning Officer and a Chief Human Resources Officer?


A Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) focuses on the operational side of human resources such as compensation, benefits and compliance. The role is more focused on management and administration, such as recruiting and onboarding new employees and ensuring that they are set up for success in their new roles.

A Chief Learning Officer (CLO) ensures that employees possess the mindset and the skillset to be able to succeed in their current role and continue to receive the development they need to learn, grow, flourish, and be set up to succeed in future roles.

The CLO will often also address workplace culture, employee engagement and recognition, diversity, equity, and inclusion, change management, and developing a leadership pipeline.

When should you hire a Fractional Chief Learning Officer?

Most companies that want to consistently achieve their business goals, attract and retain high performing employees, and create a learning culture will benefit from a Chief Learning Officer.

A Chief Learning Officer is often a $200,000+ investment per year (and even a VP of Learning and Development is often an investment of $100,000+ per year). And that’s not including benefits or the coaching and training team to implement their recommendations.

However, a Fractional Chief Learning Officer can be brought in on a retainer basis for a fraction of that investment.

If you are a small or growing organization and don’t need a large learning and development team and robust programming, your Fractional Chief Learning Officer might simply focus on:

  • A yearly workforce learning needs assessment
  • Monthly or quarterly skill development employee training
  • Semi-annual CEO or executive team intensives
  • Monthly individual and team coaching
  • Communication and leadership assessments and certifications

What should you look for in a Fractional Chief Learning Officer?

Every organization will have a unique set of needs when it comes to the role of a Fractional Chief Learning Officer.

For some, this role will solely focus on developing and leading training programs for employees.

For others, it may mean creating a workplace culture where employees can speak up for the ideas and issues that matter to your company or providing periodic team building for a primarily remote workforce.

Below, you will find three big job functions for a Chief Learning Officer as well responsibilities that fall under each one.

Training and Development

This involves designing and facilitating workshops, seminars, talks, and other learning experiences for employees.

A Fractional Chief Learning Officer should also be able to:

  • Lead the overall design, development, content, experience, platforms, and delivery of learning and development for a company
  • Oversee change management initiatives related to employee training and development to ensure seamless organizational transitions
  • Assist with career path development and goal-setting to promote employee growth and development
  • Spearhead the planning, development, and evaluation of leadership development programs to enhance the growth of all employees across the organization
  • Collaborate with the internal communications team to craft engaging employee communications related to learning and development

Research and Evaluation

A Fractional Chief Learning Officer should ensure that learning and development strategy and programs are timely and relevant through ongoing identification and assessment of learning and development needs.

Somebody in this role should also demonstrate that they are passionate about expanding their own skillset and consistently engage in their own development opportunities.

A Fractional Chief Learning Officer should be able to:

  • Utilize data-driven approaches such as needs assessments to identify skill gaps and performance improvement opportunities
  • Keep abreast of the latest trends and developments in the learning industry and champion a culture of learning within the organization
  • Build and maintain strong relationships with internal subject-matter experts and external training consultants to provide top-notch learning experiences for employees

Cultural Competence and Ensuring Learning and Development Supports Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility

As the spokesperson for learning and development within an organization, a Fractional Chief Learning Officer must possess outstanding presentation and interpersonal communication skills and also be able to communicate across different cultures.

While a Fractional Chief Learning Officer may not always lead DEI (which includes accessibility) training, their approach to learning and development should set all employees up for success and actively address institutional barriers that prevent inclusion and full equity.

A Fractional Chief Learning Officer should also be able to:

  • Develop a learning culture that reflects a company’s mission, vision, and core values
  • Create environments that center and elevate marginalized voices
  • Lead programming that fosters safety and belonging for all employees
  • Support disruption and promote innovation – at all levels

Can a Fractional Chief Learning Officer oversee more than training?


A Fractional Chief Learning Officer can also work directly with C-Suite leaders to further their own executive communication and leadership development.

While presentation and media skills, executive presence, delivering a persuasive case, giving and receiving feedback, telling evocative stories, and calling people to take action are some of the most important skills for leadership success, few organizations are consistently investing in their top leaders’ communication skills.

Fractional Chief Learning Officers can support an organization’s top leadership and critical teams to access deep speaking and written communication support that will enable them to develop the confidence and skills to master high-stakes presentations and critical conversations, including how to:

  • Prepare and deliver a keynote, TED Talk, or excel in a TV interview
  • Present important information at an all-hands staff meeting
  • Deliver employee feedback
  • Practice calling people to take action on your ideas, products, and services in low and high-stakes speaking situations (e.g., team meetings, product or project pitches, or negotiations)

A Fractional Chief Learning Officer is tasked with ensuring all employees are set up for ongoing success. They may recommended individual or team coaching, in addition to training, for a range of employee groups including:

  • Executive Teams
  • Emerging Leaders
  • Sales Teams
  • Research and Design Professionals
  • Employee Resource Groups (ERGs)
  • Women or Minority Leaders

Where can I hire a Fractional Chief Learning Officer?

Step into Your Moxie supports companies to create world-class learning and development experiences, which includes access to a Fractional Chief Learning Officer.

Our Fractional Chief Learning Officer services give you the exact level of support you need to economically develop your people and achieve your organizational (and their individual) goals. 

Learn more about our Fractional Chief Learning Officer services or go directly to scheduling a consult.

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