L&D – the future is agile…

Wondering what the year ahead holds for learning & development? The latest LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report has an opinion on the matter… The key focus is supporting agility, and that means both for individuals in their skills and careers, and organisations faced with an ever-changing world. As the report says, “…what is agility if not constant learning?”

LinkedIn 2023 Workplace Learning Report – key findings

The report is based on a survey of almost 1600 L&D and HR professionals worldwide. The highlights include:

  • 83% of organizations want to build a more people-centric culture.
  • 89% of L&D pros agree that proactively building employee skills will help navigate the evolving future of work.
  • The top 5 skills companies need the most were identified as: management, communication, customer service, leadership, and sales.
  • 82% of executives agree that people strategy is central for success (and 50% of L&D functions are working closely with executive leadership).
  • 93% of organizations are concerned about employee retention.

The future priorities for L&D

So – according to LinkedIn – what does all this mean for learning & development professionals going forward? The priorities for L&D teams are:

  • Aligning learning programs with business goals
  • Upskilling employees
  • Creating a culture of learning
  • Improving employee retention

All good but, frankly, generic stuff that could feature in any “The Year Ahead for L&D” article of the last  two decades or so. However, the report goes on to focus more closely on what these points mean in a post-pandemic, hybrid-working, ever-shifting world and singles out the following key activities:

  1. Invest in cross-functional relationships – the key is to build partnerships with HR and across the organisation.
  2. Focus on business priorities – in the past, L&D could be said to be ‘spread too thin’; better to focus on a few priorities and deliver (and the previous relationship building should help with teasing out those priorities).
  3. Champion diversity, equity and inclusion – more than half of those surveyed say L&D owns or shares ownership of DE&I initiatives.
  4. Data literacy – there’s still a way to go on how best to use data; the top five metrics used by L&D teams are vanity metrics (employee satisfaction, number of ‘courses’ delivered, etc.) More tangible business metrics, like productivity, retention or new skills learned, need to be higher on the list.
  5. Engage with managers (their role in supporting L&D is critical) – only 35% of learners felt encouraged by their manager to learn. L&D needs to engage more with managers, enlist their support for learning.
  6. Prioritise learning within L&D! – L&D professionals need to consider their own learning (to improve the support they can offer to everyone else).

So, what are the key takeaways for L&D? Firstly, Upskilling, internal mobility, and clear career development are the keys to organisational agility and creating an engaged and resilient (and skilled) workforce. “Providing learning opportunities” is the No. 1 way organizations are working to improve retention. And engaging the whole workforce with L&D principles and options is fundamental.

As one of the many quotations in the report says,

“Learning is key to your resilience as a business. If you invest in curiosity, learning, and agility for your workforce, you will be able to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and be more ready for whatever comes next.”

–Cat Ward, Vice President, Jobs for the Future


The LinkedIn 2023 Workplace Learning Report can be downloaded here.

As always, it’s worth remembering that the above priorities do not have to be delivered in-house. Maximum Performance has long and varied experience in supporting leaders, managers, the workforce in general, and HR and L&D in particular. You can check out our performance-related provision here, and our HR programmes here. Or give us a call on 01582 463460. We’re here to help.

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