2022 was a transformational year for L&D. By reflecting on and learning from key opportunities and challenges for HR and L&D leaders, we can better prepare ourselves, our teams and our organisations for 2023 and beyond. We share 5 essential learnings to help you review 2022 and prepare for 2023.
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What another transformational year it’s been for L&D. From taking centre stage in the pandemic, to managing the shift back to onsite and hybrid working and learning, L&D metamorphosised in 2022 - to become more strategic and business critical.
As L&D professionals, we are always keen to learn. And as we reflect on the year, who better to learn from other HR and L&D leaders?
Leaders we have spoken to this year have appreciated the opportunity to connect with other professionals, share experiences and discuss solutions to challenges. It’s always reassuring to know that we are not alone in our experiences, and there’s a whole community of HR and L&D professionals keen to support each other.
So, for our final blog of the year, we share insights from HR and L&D leaders who, like you, have been making the most of the opportunities and working hard to overcome challenges of L&D in 2022.
Read on to discover their 5 essential learnings.
Learning #1: L&D has become more strategic and connected
2022 saw businesses start to emerge from the pandemic, only to be met with a possible imminent recession. L&D leaders and their teams have needed to continue managing change amid uncertainty and challenging markets. This has raised their profiles and increased business leaders’ trust in their skills: “There has been a massive revamp of how we see HR and L&D: there needs to be broader, more strategic perspective.” explains Zu Hui Yap, Associate Director (HR Transformation), Singtel.
In other words, L&D is business critical.
L&D is no longer a “nice to have”, it is an enabler of business growth. Ramta Mishra, Global Human Resources Director, Conservation International, emphasises: “Reskilling is still an urgent priority – organisations need to continue investing.”
To succeed in this environment, HR and L&D have needed to adapt and transform not only the business but also themselves. They need to work more closely a wide range of internal and external stakeholders, be more strategic and connect with cross-border, cross-functional teams. Zu Hui continues: “There can no longer be a silo way of working if we are to better engage.”
Learning #2: Connecting learning to business impact is crucial
In 2022, organisations increased investment in L&D, confirming its significant role in enabling growth and responding to challenges. Increased investment has also brought increased expectations. In particular, the need to demonstrate the ROI of L&D programmes, and evidence its impact on organisational success.
“L&D professionals need to look beyond facilitating learning,” Zu Hui suggests. “They need to bridge competency gaps of their organisations.” Post training activities in the business are critical to facilitate behavioural change, apply new skills and increase productivity and performance.
And measuring the impact of training has never been more essential. While 60% of L&D professionals feel this increased pressure, fewer than 20% of organisations say they have the analytics capability to measure learning effectively.
“A new approach to getting data to measure impact and identify learning needs is needed”, urges Gaia Lambert, Talent and Development Advisor, British Council.
Learning #3: Learning culture is closely linked to organisational culture
With increased investment in and accountability of learning and development, L&D leaders highlighted the importance of creating a learning culture within the organisation to drive success.
To support a culture of learning, we need to reflect on the existing organisational culture. Anita Lucas, Head of Management & Leadership Development, British Council, shares: “To create a culture in which colleagues feel truly empowered to own their own development requires a focus not just on the learning content but on the wider aspects of culture.”
What type of organisational culture enhances learning culture?
In Anita’s experience it is one where learning is valued and role modelled at every level. It is one where stories of learning in action are shared across the organisation. It’s one where learning opportunities are everywhere. And that includes the way feedback is given and received. Does your organisation embrace feedback as learning?
Anita also advises that an optimal organisational learning culture is one where coaching is a mindset, not just a skill. And it’s one where technology makes it easy for employees to find the right type of learning.
Learning #4 Hybrid and remote working continue to impact learning
“Hybrid working is here to stay,” Ramta Mishra confirms. She shares how her organisation’s workforce is organised – back-office staff work remotely, client-facing and development teams are onsite and the remainder, approx. 72-75% of the workforce, is hybrid.
A flexible working arrangement can bring rewards. “Virtual teams give the company a cost advantage and access to a wider pool of talent,” highlights Jenni Lim, Head of HR Asia Pacific, Semperit AG.
These new ways of working have also brought new and multiple challenges. Jenni continues: “We need to focus on how to establish an excellent virtual team, use communication and collaboration tools to effectively lead virtual teams across distances, time zones, organizational separation, and cultural differences, deliver results continuously across multi-site and international environments, and build trust among employees”.
Hybrid working also means hybrid learning. Our workforces have adapted to virtual classrooms and become accustomed to online learning and digital platforms. Software has become more sophisticated and we now have more choice than ever. We’ve been able to streamline the way we plan and implement learning programmes as a result.
“Having the right technology is a game-changer,” Louisa Bench, Global HR Director Talent & Development, British Council, urges. “If you want to make learning accessible to all employees in-the-flow-of-work it’s important to have the technology platforms to enable this, particularly in a large, global organisation like ours.”
While employees are now more adept at online learning, they are also experiencing fatigue and feeling disengaged after too may online communications. Alex Png, Chief People Officer, Intrepid Group Asia, highlights: “Blended learning meets its greatest challenge yet in hybrid/remote set ups. Teams find it hard to engage, have the discipline or will to follow up.”
Organisations are overcoming these challenges by being aware of offering too much choice. By implementing targeted, relevant solutions that relate learning directly to skills gaps, L&D teams can better engage teams. And by including the new skills that are key to successful hybrid and remote learning, we can enhance collaboration and communication in virtual, dispersed teams.
Learning #5: Design for the modern learner
2022 witnessed a seismic shift in the balance of power in organisations. This has impacted how our teams engage with learning initiatives.
How have employee expectations of learning changed?
“The days of organisations and line managers proscribing what colleagues should learn are over,” Louisa Bench explains. Learners are taking charge of their own learning, driven by their career aspirations and development goals in their current roles. Jenni Lim shares: “Modern learners know what they need to perform better.”
Employees not only take more responsibility for what they learn but are also keen to take control over how they learn. Traditional learning and development structures have had to modernise to accommodate this. Peachy Pacquing, Managing Director of Hyper Island, emphasises: “There is a clear shift from curriculum-administered learning towards curiosity-led learning and from linear learning journeys to learning universes.”
And in today’s busy, pressured work environment, employees want to learn quickly and easily, with minimum disruption to their tasks. Advances in technology, combined with an expectation of finding information and ideas within minutes, have led to an increase in on-demand microlearning in the flow of work. Personalisation and customisation of content were also hugely significant in 2022. “Not only do they build employee loyalty, but they also answer the call of business,” Alex Png observes.
When L&D programmes are designed with the modern learner in mind, the business impact is huge. “When used in the right way, it can lead to higher engagement, productivity and performance,” Jenni explains.
These 5 insights highlight the key opportunities and challenges for L&D in 2022. By reflecting on and learning from them, we can better prepare ourselves, our teams and our organisations for 2023 and beyond.
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