The future of Learning & Development
The last two years have been a period of concentrated change for businesses. Primarily driven by the pandemic, we have changed the way we work, where we work, and how we collaborate and interact with each other. The learning and development function has been (and continues to be) instrumental in driving these changes and, unsurprisingly, has seen its own priorities shift along with everyone else’s.
At Maximum, we saw the first L&D responses to the pandemic when we carried out some early research among our network. What we found in 2020 was a widespread process of recalibration, with L&D functions pivoting to remote learning methods, such as webinars, and a greater emphasis on providing options for learning on demand.
Now we have the latest annual Workplace Learning Report (2022) from LinkedIn.
According to the report, 81% of workplace policies are changing to offer greater flexibility to their workforce. Unsurprisingly, L&D as a function is also evolving to be more flexible and extend its involvement in organisational matters:
- 74% agree that L&D has become more cross-functional.
- 72% agree that L&D has become a more strategic function at their organization.
- 87% had some to a great deal of involvement in helping their organization adapt to change.
- 62% agree that L&D is focused on rebuilding or reshaping their organization in 2022.
Interestingly, for years a common theme in L&D has been the need to be less silo-based and become more strategic – (it only took a global pandemic!) The current pictures seems to be that learning and development is acting as a key enabler of change and flexibility, helping facilitate growth across organisations.
Future priorities for L&D
Moving on from the story so far, LinkedIn’s research also identifies a set of key challenges for L&D teams. Those challenges are:
- Addressing a growing skills gap within workforces (compared with the 2021 report, there is concern that the gap between the skills people need and the skills they have is widening).
- Participating fully in diversity, equality and inclusion (DE&I) strategies and initiatives. In 12% of organisations, L&D has taken full responsibility for DE&I, and shares that responsibility in 43% more.
- An obvious focus on care and well-being with an emphasis on the manager/supervisor role (a focus on providing caring and support training for managers reduces staff turnover).
- Maintain a focus on their own learning – compared to colleagues, L&D professionals spent between 23-35% less time learning in 2021. The top priority future L&D skills needs identified included leadership, data & decision-making, managing relationships, and technology.
- More strategic metrics to measure L&D success – look for more quantitative measures of success, as opposed to individual/anecdotal feedback.
With this in mind, respondents were asked what kind of L&D activities they were looking to roll out in 2022; the results were:
- Diversity, equality and inclusion – 45%
- Leading through change – 42%
- Large-scale upskilling/reskilling programs 41%
- Digital transformation 30%
- Virtual lunch’n’learn programs – 29% (This is more of a method than a topic but nevertheless interesting as it indicates the degree of flexibility increasingly present in L&D delivery.)
- Creativity 16%
As a summary of the current context for learning and development functions, the following quotation from Gogi Anand, Senior People Science Consultant at LinkedIn, seems to hit the nail…
“Employees expect opportunities to learn and grow without limitations, managers who understand individual working styles and environments, and companies that offer flexibility as a standard of employment.”
So, flexible delivery of employee skills, including a focus on orienting management to support learning, and an emphasis on maintaining and further extending L&D’s strategic focus. Speaking for ourselves at Maximum, we’ve found that many organisations are relying on external partners and suppliers to provide the training their people need, when they need it. Check out the range of off-the-shelf and bespoke training options on our website. Or simply call us on 01582 463460. We’re here to help.