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Learning & Development: What we got wrong, and where we are going

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If we look back in time at predicted vs. actual trends in learning and development, it’s clear that not all predictions actually come to fruition. Whether technology advances quicker than expected or we’re thrown unexpectedly into a global pandemic, learning and development is constantly evolving to keep up with the modern way of work. Don Taylor and Mike Bollinger recently shared their thoughts on which predictions we got wrong, and what we should expect to see in the coming year from learning and development. See here for the full webinar.

What we got wrong

The first prediction that saw itself falling short is the idea that “e-learning is a fad”. Whilst the term e-learning is broad, with both good and bad forms, it’s hard to deny that it has dominated the L&D space since the pandemic began. With lockdowns and furlough in our rear-view mirrors, we have seen a clear shift in mentality, with many employees opting for a hybrid approach to work, where online learning is available to help them stride towards their career goals.

It was also predicted that “gamification will change everything”. Whilst this may have been on the road to being true back in 2015, gamification seems to have fallen off the tracks. It seems as though the attractiveness of the concept outweighed the underlying complexities. To do gamification right requires a huge amount of work, and success is never guaranteed. Besides, once games become compulsory, are they still considered fun?

Priorities for this year

Don and Mike presented three key priorities for HR departments to focus on in the next year. The first, a focus on the “skills of the future”. This is an evolution rather than a revolution, and we need to find a way to keep skills evergreen. Technology can help us to do this, acting as our very own skills engine, but we still need skilled workers to keep organisations agile and flexible.

Secondly, data is not just pervasive. As we’ve seen a shift to automation, it’s important we focus our reskilling and upskilling efforts on those more complex skills that are less likely to be automated. Actionable insights are what get you in the door. Data is everywhere, but it is how you make sense of that data and turn it into knowledge to gain valuable insights. You don’t’ need perfect data, you just need to use the data you have wisely.

Lastly, business acumen is central to the L&D role. You need to understand what is going on in your business. How do you measure success? What insights can be drawn from these measurements? And how can these be aligned to the goals of the wider business? HR is not a static role; it encompasses many moving parts and leaders need to be able to juggle these effectively.

What to consider when building a learning strategy this year

It’s no use trying to solve all your problems with technology, nor is it going to work trying to solve your problems in silos. Many businesses don’t even consider L&D part of the macro-challenge of retention and engagement. It is time to re-focus our priorities when building a learning strategy this year, and these tips are a great place to start:

  • In order to maximise impact within a business, leaders must create a connected experience for businesses and employees
  • Leverage AI to streamline your approach and gather baseline results to work from
  • Learning and development should be seen as a business priority, not just a learning priority

While we cannot accurately predict the future of L&D, we can put measures into place to help soften the blow of change. Products like Cornerstone help to create a connected experience between business and employee while gathering and analysing skills data that improves productivity and deepens insights. Working with technology can revolutionise the way a business functions, and 2022 is the year for L&D to really make itself known.

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