As 2019 dawned, Learning & Development leaders are beginning to identify and explore the new trends that are going to dominate the learning space in the upcoming months. This is essential as it will help them to make the maximum out of their L&D budget. At this juncture when you are busy weighing the needs of your employees and resources at your disposal, I want to highlight some trends that bear a close looking into this year. This can help you to make better-informed decisions and choices.
The only thing that is constant in the world of technology is change. The rate at which technological advancements are happening is outside the realms of practical comprehension. There is only a way to ensure that you and your team are equipped to handle the latest technology. That is through better training programs and delivery methods. Today, there is a need for organizations to up their training programs by various means such as personalizing, incorporating cutting edge technologies, supporting professional development and encouraging employee engagement.
As you know, a strong organizational learning program can have far-reaching implications beyond enhancing employees skills. Many companies have started to realize this and have embarked on designing better learning programs. With a strong learning program, an organization can attract top talent as well as retain key employees. It boosts retention rates as employees who are given opportunities to upskill are more likely to advance their career by seeking out other roles within the same company.
According to Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program report, from the employers surveyed, 74.2 percent of them who increased training for employees saw a revenue growth within 18 months. This is an example of the impact training employees has on the organization’s bottom line. Yet another study, highlighted the need for continuous learning/training for employees. The latest study by Deloitte found the average half-life of skill in this digital age to be a mere five years, highlighting how technology advancements are rendering skills obsolete at an alarming pace. This further shows how continuous learning is the need of the hour. As you can see clearly, upskilling and reskilling is the need of the hour.
Recognizing the current trends in the learning space is important to make the training effective and relevant. In this article, I have compiled the five top trends in learning and development that you need to watch out this year.
Make Learning More Accessible
A 2018 study by LinkedIn revealed that a key challenge that L&D leaders face is getting employees to make time for learning. As the nature of work has become more dynamic and complex, L&Ds need to ensure that employees are able to access learning anytime, anywhere and from any device. Delivering training on multiple platforms including classroom, on-demand, and mobile can help to help to make an effortless learning experience for even the busiest employee.
When we talk about accessible learning, it is equally important to discuss Microlearning. Micro-learning is a holistic approach to skill-based learning which deals with smaller learning units. In this approach, the learner is given just enough information to help them achieve a particular actionable objective. With this learning method, learners can review information in smaller fragments which are spaced out from one lesson to the next. This can result in better results in the longer term.
This approach makes learning more agile and enables more efficient and quicker development of training. For instance, if there is a change in the role responsibility, the trainer need not have to alter an entire course if the material is divided into smaller chunks. The trainer can just identify the section that needs to be updated instead of having to recreate the entire learning content.
Micro-learning approach is best when learners are able to access it easily. By structuring learning in this way, trainers can easily re-train the employees in any concept they are struggling with. Organizing these training resources in a system will help the trainers to track its usage and helps them to prioritize training development. This can also be used as a data point when L&D managers are discussing ROI for training offerings.
Gamification of Training
Gamification is essentially a process of incorporating a progressive reward system into training that mimics modern video games. Leaderboards, points, badges, and community involvement serves as a reinforcement and incentive for the online training experience. With this approach, learners who lack the necessary motivation and passion for learning can utilize these tools as springboard till their real drive kicks in.
The importance of Gamification in training is outlined in a study by Gartner titled, ‘Gamification 2020 report’. The study found Gamification combined with other emerging technologies will have a significant impact on employee performance, innovation, and engagement.
Prioritization of Soft Skills
With organizations becoming more global, employers are realizing how critical it is to develop an employee’s soft skills such as collaboration, negotiation, and emotional intelligence. In fact, soft skills are known to boost an organization’s work culture, increase the retention rate and improve leadership.
The importance of soft skills is backed by several scholarships. One example is LinkedIn’s ‘2018 Workforce Report’ which identified soft skills gap as a critical priority. The report further highlighted that skills such as leadership, communication, and collaboration have become obsolete as compared with the “limited life of hard skills.” The importance of soft skills has also been a topic of study and widely discussed by author Daniel Goleman in his well-acclaimed book ‘Emotional Intelligence at Work’. Some of the key findings outlined in his book are that:
- 90% of people advanced up their career ladder because of their Emotional Intelligence
- Competency research carried out globally in over 200 organizations found that EQ was twice as critical as cognitive and technical ability in distinguishing best performers from average ones. When it comes to senior leadership roles, it was found to be four times as important.
- A study of over 500 executives revealed EQ as a better predictor of success as compared to IQ or relevant previous experience.
Embracing Artificial Intelligence
Emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can have a significant impact on how learning is consumed in 2019. The two ways in which it can enhance learning experience is through measuring effectiveness and achieving personalization. This is echoed by a recent report from IBM, which notes that AI in the workplace can help employers to offer career pathing to employees, highly personalized training programs and enhanced onsite job training.
The widespread application of AI in our day-day life is not very obvious. From Netflix to Amazon to Facebook, AI has permeated our daily lives to deliver personalized recommendation each time we visit these sites. Imagine the effect of this smart curation can have in your learning environment; it can lead to a more timely and engaging experience for employees.
Another significant way in which AI can aid you is in measuring effectiveness. Technologies such as Face recognition, for example, can be used in training, simulation, and role-playing to measure how each employee is applying new learning. Based on this assessment, learners can then be directed back to the LMS where they can receive custom follow up training.
Using Mindfulness At Workplace
A study conducted by Wrike found 94% of the workers surveyed reported that their stress level is “high to unsustainably high,” which further impacts their health and workplace productivity. Today, many companies have already taken cognizance of this and started investing in Mindfulness programs for their employees with a view to reducing burnout and subsequent turnover.
The same report predicts how Mindfulness and meditation are set to become a $2.08 billion industry with an annual growth rate of 11.4 percent by 2022. The report also cites the examples of McKinsey, Adobe, Nike, P&G, Google, Intel, General Mills and Apple who have successfully implemented Mindfulness programs for their employees.
2019 Top L&D Trends Recap
- Make Learning More Accessible: Ensure that employees are able to access learning anytime, anywhere and from any device; Explore the effectiveness of Micro- Learning.
- Gamification of Training: Use Games to instill a positive outlook towards learning till an employee’s core motivation kicks in.
- Prioritization of Soft Skills: Develop an employee’s soft skills such as collaboration, negotiation and emotional intelligence for boosting organizational and employee growth
- Embracing Artificial Intelligence: Incorporate Artificial Intelligence into LMS, for achieving productivity and measuring the effectiveness
- Using Mindfulness At Workplace: Reduce the stress level of your employees by implementing mindfulness program s at your organization