L&D is to play an influential role in 2023 in attracting, retaining and engaging talent to drive business growth. Based on interviews with experienced L&D leaders, we’ve identified the top four focus areas for 2023.
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2023 has just begun. It’s the time of year when we look back as well as forward. And try to make good use of the lessons we’ve learned.
2023 is already bringing exciting possibilities as well as challenges. And for L&D leaders, many of us already have long to-do lists.
Where exactly to begin?
At the top of many HR and L&D leaders’ agendas are plans to retain, recruit and engage talent. With good reason. An impending recession, rising inflation and slowing economic growth requires us to prepare (yet again) for another year of uncertainty. We need to ensure that our organisations have the right skills and capabilities needed to succeed on a global level.
Employees understand that skills are key to successful performance and career progression. Many believe that upskilling involves leaving: 55% of employees say that the best way for them to develop their skills is to change companies.
With this ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘The Great Resignation/Reshuffle’, engaging employees in learning has become more challenging.
To get an expert perspective on the year ahead and learn from experienced L&D professionals, we interviewed L&D leaders.
Read on to discover their top four focus areas to prioritise in 2023.
Focus #1: L&D’s impact on recruitment and retention
Attracting the right talent
Salary and benefits are no longer enough to attract talent to your organisation. Job seekers are becoming more discerning about the organisations they choose to apply to, and accept positions in.
A Gallup study found that 65% of job seekers choose organisations based on the quality of upskilling opportunities provided. To attract talent, you need to communicate that your organisation grows skills and provides career pathway options for employees to advance. Share your learning plans, mission and goals with prospective talent. Encourage employees to share stories of how learning has helped them develop new skills and advance in their careers. You can also post testimonials on your website or careers portal for job seekers to read and watch.
“The war for talent is very real, and it isn’t going away anytime soon. If we are to differentiate ourselves as an employer we need to focus on purpose and culture and ensure that we are upskilling and reskilling our talent in order to provide growth and progression. It’s the only way we will ensure we have the talent we need to deliver our business strategy.” Louisa Bench, Global HR Director Talent & Development, British Council.
In addition to supporting recruitment, L&D opportunities are crucial to engagement and retention. The recent Microsoft Work Index found that 76% of employees would stay at their company longer if there were more L&D possibilities.
Mahmoud Reda, Acting Manager, L&D and HR, Vodafone Qatar emphasises the connection between learning and retention: “Promoting more learning and development opportunities can increase collaboration, communication and knowledge sharing.” Impactful learning programmes lead to more active, motivated and productive employees, increasing engagement and retention.
Focus #2: Shaping a learning culture through stakeholder engagement
‘If you build it, they will engage in it’ is not enough to develop a strong learning culture. Offering employees various options for learning and professional development is just one part of the equation. Getting buy-in and commitment from key stakeholders in the organisation is another critical component.
“To enable a learning culture that fits with organisational culture, L&D leaders rely heavily on people managers. They need to understand their role in developing others to achieve their potential. Where we can support managers to develop a coaching mindset and some skills to match is an investment of time. But big returns later for individuals and organisations alike.” Anita Lucas, Head of Management & Leadership Development, British Council.
Learning cultures boost engagement
Another benefit of a learning culture? It’s the #1 driver for creating a great work culture. Which keeps employees engaged and attracts new talent, emphasises Yaprak Yesilada Yalcin, Head of Talent Management, British Council. “Organisations need to focus on creating an enabling environment for people to be at their best.”
Focus #3: Enhanced learner engagement through innovative learning design
Employees not only expect more flexible conditions, like hybrid or remote work options. They also continue to expect flexible learning options, such as targeted, relevant, personalised and microlearning options that help them achieve current and future goals.
“Now is the time to identify the learning needs of the future” shares Zu Hui Yap, Associate Director (HR Transformation), Singtel. He emphasises that L&D teams need to innovate to engage learners and create behavioural change in the workplace. A crucial part of this is finding the optimal mix between fully virtual, hybrid and in-person learning.
Meeting the need for more connection
After several years of remote and self-directed learning, employees are longing for increased connection, collaboration and socialisation as they learn. Rebecca Hall, HR Business Partner/L&D Manager, English and Exams, British Council emphasises: “We will be exploring how we can replicate the benefits of learning with and from others virtually.”
Alex Png, Chief People Officer, Intrepid Group Asia, notes that in-person opportunities are starting to become important again. Organisations, especially those with hybrid or remote teams, will need to be creative in 2023 to meet this need. Non-traditional ways of learning, such as membership of professional bodies, conference and event attendance, and informal learning with others in the same location can provide opportunities for socialisation while learning.
Another way to develop skills and connections is to develop cross-border, cross-functional coaching and mentoring programmes, explains Ramta Mishra, Global Human Resources Director, Conservation International. Developing internal coaching and mentoring capabilities not only increases programmes’ success, but also provides a sense of career progress for employees looking to stay employable.
Mobility as a learning tool
Another critical (but often overlooked) aspect of workplace learning is providing opportunities to experience aspects of different roles. And mobility can play a big part.
Zu Hui highlights the growing mobility of talent and their willingness to move for employment opportunities. By building opportunities for learning through mobility, L&D teams can upskill and reskill employees, provide career development opportunities and retain key talent.
Secondments, job rotation and shadowing can stretch the potential of talent and engage them by providing new challenges. Yaprak explains: “Experience is what employees seek to support their development. It allows them to gain diverse perspectives and be an active learner in making choices about their careers and development.”
Zu Hui emphasises the importance of HR and L&D teams working closely to make this a success: “Make sure the entire HR process facilitates the developmental needs of the talents through structured internal mobility.”
Wellbeing to support learning
With many employees experiencing fatigue, and some burnout, organisations need to focus on wellbeing as an enabler of learning. With a growth mindset, positive thinking and resilience, learners are more likely to engage with programmes and develop the skills our organisations need. Many organisations are starting to integrate wellness resources into learning programmes for a holistic approach to personal and professional development.
“We have to ensure mental wellbeing and overall health are attended to before requesting learning outcomes to be met. Wellness toolkits and resources are part of learning hygiene to ensure they are set up comfortably and ready to engage.” Alex Png, Chief People Officer, Intrepid Group Asia.
Focus #4: Hot training topics for 2023
Investing in L&D “empowers employees for their work today and gives them authority in their chosen field. Mastering soft skills is an added advantage”, argues Desmond Essuman, Human Resource Consultant. Keep current employees engaged and ensure your organisation is prepared for 2023 with these top training topics.
There’s no denying that the need for digital skills has increased since the pandemic. Yet 60% of professionals say soft skills, including communication, are just as important.
“I analysed all our recent job descriptions for new hires in our fintech start-up. I found that they were heavily focused on technical skillsets but less so on communication and collaborative skills. In an attempt to uplift our awareness of the importance of communication skillsets, leadership gathered and defined the level of communication skills needed and the ideal methodology to assess when hiring.” DongWhan Kim, Director of HR-Global Talent Development, Konstellation.
Effective communication is crucial to organisational success during times of transformation and change. A recent HR/L&D Trends report, emphasises communication skills as a must-have skill for all future leaders. Leaders who communicate well can inspire and engage their teams, as well as enhance the organisation’s image with external stakeholders, supporting business growth.
It’s also essential to career success: strong communication skills project executive presence, increasing confidence, credibility and connection, opening opportunities for career advancement.
L&D can play an instrumental role in championing a positive wellbeing culture, creating a supportive working environment that values each individual as a whole person.
“Organisations should provide learnings that go beyond (technical) skills… nurturing and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of the employees”, urges Jenni Lim, Head of HR Asia Pacific, Semperit AG. Training in areas such as stress management, mindfulness, resilience and positive psychology can support employees through challenging times. Organisations are also investing in wellbeing spaces in their offices, where employees can recharge, meditate, or release their stress through guided writing. Wellbeing ambassadors or mental health first aiders are creating and delivering programmes, as well as driving conversations within organisations about wellbeing.
Jenni highlights: “The positive impact of (these) programmes includes increased productivity and creative thinking, as well as lesser absenteeism.” She adds, “employee retention will improve when they recognise that organisations are investing in their health and wellbeing.”
Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging continue to be a high priority in 2023. Many leaders agree: 78% understand how an inclusive and diverse workplace benefits their organisation.
Jenni emphasises that key to success is “creating a working environment that benefits all employees, regardless of gender, ethnic background, age groups and mental and physical ability.” L&D teams can play a key part in this through DEI programmes, informal learning and sharing sessions. “We will offer trainings, including unconscious bias, cultural awareness, discrimination and human rights.”
Further, Ramta Mishra highlights that DEI coaching is an essential component of any coaching and mentoring programme. Coaches often receive specialised training in diversity, inclusion and culture change to ensure they are prepared for the complexities for DEI coaching. This enables them to support their coachees to identify and explore their identities, biases and concerns, and develop skills to create more inclusive workplaces.
One thing not to forget in 2023
Although HR and L&D teams have a lot on their plate, there’s another critical focus area. Prioritising their own skills development. Taking the time to do so will be essential to accomplishing everything on their to-do list for 2023.
With over 80 years’ experience of working in over 100 countries in 6 continents, we have unrivalled experience of professional development for organisations. Find out how our 4-step process, training and coaching can grow your and your team’s skills and prepare you for the opportunities of 2023 and beyond.
Find more valuable tips by reading our blogs:
- 2022 in review: 5 things we learned about L&D
- 5 critical skills L&D leaders need in 2023
- Why L&D leaders should invest in their own learning
- Becoming a global organisation: what skills will it take?
- 5 simple tips to develop effective microlearning solutions
- 4 reasons why personalised English learning is good for your business