With 2024 underway, people teams across the country will be looking to build on successes and learn from failures, whilst evaluating how to drive their learning outcomes for the year ahead. The good people over at World of Learning have analysed last year's trends and spoken to experts in the field to discuss the challenges ahead. Here are some of their key findings…
One of the key challenges outlined was aligning learning with business goals, with “just one in five business leaders believe L&D contributes significantly towards the achievement of their three priority goals” – businesses are capping the potential of their learning, as their programmes need to align to skills which are relevant to the business and wider industry to help organisations get the most value out of their investment. Their people will also be looking for learning opportunities that provide a clear path to progression within the business, or wider industry, which leads to the next challenge…
Employee retention and development – the early months of 2023 were dubbed as ‘The Great Resignation’ as many left their jobs - the 2023 learning report found that “93% of organisations are concerned about employee retention.” Employers can drive retention by providing high-quality learning opportunities to stop people from feeling stagnant; it seems these opportunities are needed now more than ever.
“Only one in five learning practitioners strongly agree they are prioritising the skills needed to help their organisation in the future” – Upskilling and reskilling. The report suggests businesses need to define learning clearly, Robin Hoyle, Head of Learning at Huthwaite International said that “watching a video is developing knowledge not skills. L&D is about enabling people to do things differently.” – Learning needs to drive behavioural changes by doing and practicing, rather than thinking and consuming content.
Nahdia Khan, Chief Impact Officer at Mind Tools stated that “A learning culture is a shared responsibility” – Learning cannot be a financial and strategic burden alone, businesses need to provide people with the space and time to share and develop ideas among colleagues and managers alike. Learning needs to be part of work, driving business outcomes, rather than its own separate entity.
The final challenge covered discusses linking L&D with performance and development. Learning needs to provide measurable outcomes that drive improved performance and pathways for people to grow. This can be achieved by choosing the right metrics to measure the success of any learning initiatives put in place within a business. According to Celisse Saxton, academy lead at consulting company AND Digital: “The most important part of learning is what happens after. Are they implementing it in the workplace? Are they playing it back with peers? Their manager? Did it work for them? That’s the business impact.”
Businesses need to measure changes to performance, they can embed this within performance reviews, measuring skills learned and behavioural changes made through learning experiences. Ultimately, businesses outcomes are the key metrics, like retention, and productivity within teams and the wider business and not vanity metrics, like satisfaction, quiz results and numbers of employees taking part.
To summarise, businesses need to keep thinking of the big picture when it comes to learning. That starts with ensuring that learning aligns with their overarching goals as a business. It also means that they need to be aware of trends in the wider market, to ensure their L&D strategies can stay ahead of the curve, prioritising things like retention during times of low engagement on a wider scale.
Learning initiatives need to be delivered with an opportunity to practise the skills acquired. This helps consolidate learning and supports efforts to upskill and reskill people by providing them with the space to utilise their learnings in a real-world context. This will be underpinned by a strong learning culture, going beyond investing in expensive LMSs and tools. It’s about creating environments for people to share and build ideas, putting their learnings into practice in everyday work.
And finally, to ensure the success of any learning initiatives, businesses need to measure the right things. Not vanity metrics, but business metrics to better understand how their learning initiatives impact the business, its people, and productivity. In a time where AI and other complex systems and tools are being utilised for L&D, as stated in the learning report: “the devil is in the details.”
At Ethical Angel, we support L&D functions to drive holistic learning and improved business outcomes by providing practice through pro bono experiences. We connect your people with projects run by charities and good causes that need their help. The projects consolidate their learning, with your business goals at the centre of the experiences, whilst encouraging timely and relevant feedback 360 feedback to help you build an internal culture of learning.
To find out more, book a chat with the team here.
You can access the full report here.