Top 10 L&D Trends for 2022
In the last two years, employee learning and development (L&D) has undergone a tectonic shift.
- On the one hand, most of the usual learning methods were disrupted, with workshops and training events coming to a halt.
- On the other hand, the need for new skills has increased more than ever before.
Employees are now expected to be highly agile in learning and quickly adapt to emerging and evolving work scenarios. For instance, several businesses moved to the cloud for the first time in 2020–2021, necessitating the skills to operate and maximise cloud infrastructure.
Now, sitting in 2022, we are on the cusp of yet another change. Hybrid work will usher in its learning requirements and cultural tenets that require different soft skills. In this context, ten learning and development trends are most crucial for organisations this year:
1. The rise of a culture of learning
L&D will be a priority for most companies, big or small, with budgets rising by 48%. Learning and development budgets could increase by as much as 57% in the Asia Pacific region as organisations try to fill the skills gap (particularly the digital divide plaguing several sectors). This apparent buy-in leads to the rise of a learning culture, where employees are constantly expected to upskill, upgrade, and strive for something better. L&D becomes a core employee KRA in a culture of learning.
2. The search for new leaders
The Great Resignation has left behind significant blank spaces in the employee ranks, and it is felt the most severely in middle management and leadership roles. With so many middle managers and experienced professionals switching jobs and even rethinking their entire careers, organisations must leverage L&D as part of succession planning. Indeed, nearly 50% of organisations worldwide will prioritise leadership and management training in 2022.
3. Self-directed learning to empower workers
Much of the great resignation was driven by professionals confident in their newly acquired skill sets and, therefore, their heightened employability in the labour market. However, the demand for self-directed learning will not slow down in 2022, particularly with millennials and Gen Z taking over most workplaces. For example, 43% of Gen Z and millennials seek empowerment via self-directed learning, valid for 1 in 3 of Gen X and baby boomers.
4. Hybrid learning for a hybrid era
While remote L&D tried to address the absence of in-person learning sessions in 2020–2021, not everyone was happy with the experience. Over half (53%) of employees felt that their virtual and digital L&D practices were less effective than face-to-face versions. Learning professionals, too, are dissatisfied and are looking to deploy more engaging models in the future. As a result, hybrid learning will be a top trend in 2022.
5. L&D as a change driver
As organisations reimagine their working models, forge new partnerships, rebalance their portfolios, and shift market focus, it is vital to be adaptable to change. In 87% of cases, learning and development have played a crucial role, helping organisations stay in line with the competition and hold onto their top talent.
6. Learning reinforcement as a priority
A fallout of rapid upskilling is the inevitable forgetting curve. Employees risk absorbing knowledge faster than required in the workplace, which means that new skills are not demonstrated or reinforced. In 2022, 47% of L&D professionals will invest in supporting the knowledge already acquired and holding learners accountable. It takes L&D beyond a “mandatory compliance” procedure and makes it a part of the company’s lived culture.
7. Building “critical skills” as priority #1
For HR, learning and development have never been so important. Gartner found that 59% of HR leaders will prioritise building “critical skills” over everything else, ahead of organisational change management, leadership management, and even diversity & inclusion. In other words, most companies will find themselves playing catchup in 2022, as the market requirement for critical skills continues to outpace supply.
8. A higher number of D&I programs
While diversity and inclusion may be priority no.5 for HR, it is among the top learning types to be deployed by L&D professionals. The deployment of D&I programs will increase from 34% to 45% in 2022, among the highest upticks seen in any training. In addition, as offices are reopening, companies are eager to start on the right foot and build a welcoming workplace.
9. Social learning is up, and micro-learning is down
Learner sentiment is not too favourable towards microlearning, i.e., consumption of knowledge in bite-sized bursts. It could be due to more free time to engage in extensive and more elaborate courses, and microlearning may also struggle to keep up with rapidly emerging skills requirements. But on the other hand, employees will be eager to participate in collaborative and social learning in 2022 — a break from the last two years’ isolation.
10. Tapping into new skills
Finally, the new skills acquired will not be an end unto themselves. Employees who feel that their abilities are not being put to good use are ten times more likely to switch jobs. In 2022, L&D must work with functional heads and team leaders to align L&D purpose with practice.
These were my top ten trends for learning and development in 2022. Can you add it to this list? Join the conversation with me at Arvind@am-pmassociates.com.