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Learning and Development | 6 Min Read

Striking trends shaping workplace learning and development in 2022

Introduction

Jacob Morgan famously said, “If you don’t think about and plan for the future of work, then your organization has no future.”

In a world that has seen more disruptions in 2020-2022 than it ever has, change is the only constant and only the “fittest” or the most “aware” organizations can survive and do better.

As per the findings in the Mercer | Mettl L&D 2022 report, more than 50% of the organizations have increased their annual spending on L&D (Learning & Development) over the last two years.

The increase in spending is to help employees scale themselves up and learn all the new skills required for them to stay relevant on the job. Today, there is no job that can be done independent of technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning) or Cloud-based systems. This is what is the ‘future of work.’

Organizations need to focus on how learning new skills can be made relevant, accessible and inclusive for all employees to be future-ready.

 


Challenges

To identify and predict emerging L&D trends, Mercer | Mettl dived deep into the challenges shaping the state of workplace learning and development. While most survey respondents acknowledged the lack of structured organizational focus and strategy, other significant challenges included:

 

L&D_infographic 1

The great resignation

Rampant attrition and an inability to fill the vacancies quickly have forced the HR (Human Resource) leaders to seriously rethink their upskilling and reskilling strategy for employees.

Skill gap analysis

Lack of defined processes and tools has made identifying the current and future skill requirements of employees difficult.

Lack of employee engagement

Employees are not motivated to take up or complete the pieces of training due to lack of time, interest, or inability to find relevance in the training content.

Inability to measure the effectiveness of the L&D programs

Achieving the desired ROI (Return on Investment) on the L&D programs & measuring the effectiveness of the content are key challenges.

Inadequate budget allocation for L&D initiatives

All companies post the COVID-19 disruption, have been re-evaluating their budgets. In the process of organizations cutting costs to make up for losses incurred ever since the pandemic started, L&D has faced severe budgetary cuts at some organizations. More than 80% respondents from the survey conducted by Mercer | Mettl believe that the budget allocation for L&D should increase with the ever-increasing change in skillsets and the need to keep the employees updated with the same.

Lack of clarity on the relevance of training

Training programs have not been linked to the employee's KPIs and there is no clarity on how these fit in the large scheme of things regarding the overall organizational goals.

 

L&D_image 1

 

The challenges have paved the way for novel solutions and ready adoption of innovative processes. The latter fuels the trend forecast for 2022, highlights of which are outlined below. You can access an elaborate analysis of these trends in Mercer | Mettl’s extensive report.

 


The state of L&D 2022: Six key trends from Mercer | Mettl’s report

The changing nature and demands of the workforce in the last two years have forced organizations to relook their strategy and outlook in an effective way. All decisions are no longer made by the CXOs, giving more freedom in decision making for the department heads, leading to a democratization of the workforce. The biggest positive amid this change has been the democratization of learning for all employees. Let us understand the top trends that the report has identified and which are here to stay!

Greater emphasis on L&D strategies, budgets and processes

Organizations are laying greater emphasis on their L&D strategies, budgets and processes to get them right. They are not shying away from allocating a higher proportion of their funding for L&D. Organizations are making a sincere attempt to map the requisite skillsets and the recommended training to the annual KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) for every employee. Employees are also given clarity of how their goals and preparation for being future-ready align with the organization's larger goals and vision.

Widespread adoption of blended learning programs

Companies are adopting a blended (centralized + decentralized) approach for learning programs and skilling employees. Before the pandemic, these were primarily centralized, with the organization having a significant say. However, with the changing times and changes in work modes, the blended approach works best.

Two parts of the blended learning approach

 

Centralized – The organization uses assessments and a system of providing anonymous feedback from peers, direct reports and higher-ups (360-degree feedback) to find out employees’ current strengths and weaknesses. This helps map the much-needed skillsets and recommends training for the employees to upskill and reskill themselves.

Decentralized – The employee has the freedom to choose when and how to learn once the recommendations have been provided for the training that will help bridge the current lack of skills. It is like making the employees personally accountable for their learning and growth without pressure from their bosses or the top management. The ‘top-down’ approach has made way for the ‘bottom-up’ approach.

Transition to virtual training programs, LMS systems and feedback mechanisms like 360-degree feedback

The pandemic has ensured that most organizations have started incorporating more virtual than in-person training as per the changing demands of the workforce.

More than 50% of the organizations are willing to invest in robust LMS systems (Learning & Management systems) that will allocate suitable courses for employees and ensure that this is entirely self-paced with no outside intervention required.

Anonymous well-rounded feedback helps leaders and the employees below them get to know their natural strengths and areas of improvement. This can also help leaders understand how they can be better leaders.

Rising demand for assessment tools

The adoption of assessment tools for skill gap analysis is on the rise. Organizations are willing to invest in assessment tools to help understand employees' current and future skill requirements. This will help them prepare better for succession planning. These tools will also help them measure the effectiveness of their L&D training and processes.

Major L&D investment on mid-level employees

The most considerable portion of the L&D training budget is allocated to training mid-level employees. They will be the eventual successors to the top leadership positions in any organization. This will ensure that organizations do not have to shell out extra money on hiring an external resource to fill such vacancies. It is easier and more convenient to hand over the reins internally.

Greater emphasis on soft skills as a must-have

Soft skills are the most sought-after, irrespective of whether the employee is in a client-facing role or not. Most respondents from the surveys conducted for the Mercer| Mettl L&D 2022 report unanimously agreed that soft skills were the most essential for seamless collaboration among cross-functional teams. In addition, communication is the top-most soft skill to get ahead at work, followed by empathy and ownership. This shows that being a great communicator has never been more critical.

 


The way forward

The emerging trends in workplace learning and development now extend beyond domain knowledge and technical expertise. As companies continue to acknowledge the need for positive and productive professional environments, L&D will:

  • Embrace microlearning to help employees constantly upskill and reskill themselves.
  • Focus on instilling values that encourage diversity, equity and inclusion at work.
  • Encourage leaders to equip teams with the latest learning content and tools for future-readiness.

Furthermore, the new work setup (remote/hybrid) will continue to impact the evolution of workplace learning and development.

For deeper insights into factors affecting and shaping this evolution, read The state of L&D (learning & development) report 2022.

Originally published March 14 2022, Updated March 14 2022

Ekta Shetty

Written by

Ekta is a product marketer who loves watching, analyzing, reading about and discussing sports in her free time. She is also an avid traveler and likes planning trips in such a way that some sports matches can also be watched live.

About This Topic

Learning and development initiatives, also known as organizational development initiatives, are activities designed to develop employees in their present roles as well as for future roles. It consists of identifying training needs, conducting training initiatives and measuring the ROI.

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