As we approach the end of the year, we’ve compiled a few important trends we’ve noticed garnered the most interest in the learning and development space. While many of these have been rising trends for some time, we are fast approaching a time when they are becoming more critical to organizational success.

Here are the top 10 priorities for learning and development in 2018:

 

1. Better alignment of L&D goals to business goals

According to LinkedIn’s 2017 Workplace Learning Report, one of L&D practitioners’ top five challenges is aligning training to their organizations’ overall strategy. Many organizations still fail to conduct a proper training needs analysis, which is a vital stage in the L&D and business alignment process. It ensures that training plans will be able to address actual business needs and target the correct knowledge and skill gaps for them to succeed.

 

2. More robust training measurement

The LinkedIn report ties the top challenges of L&D professionals to their inability to demonstrate their business impact. Today, most organizations are still stuck on the first two levels Kirkpatrick’s four-level training evaluation model. L&D professionals must work towards moving beyond measuring learner satisfaction, engagement, and skills attainment, and begin to analyze workplace application, change in performance, and ROI.

 

3. Better and more flexible LMS

The learning technology market is becoming saturated with LMS providers, many of which are still expensive and rigid. It takes some research to find the best LMS that will suit your needs. But with the ever-changing needs of organizations and employees, we are leaning more towards LMSs that are flexible, accessible, and able communicate and share data with other programs.

 

4. Curated content that covers a variety of relevant subjects

Effective learning content curation contributes to organizational performance in many ways. It is about identifying the most relevant information for your learners, and contextualizing and organizing it in a way that makes it effective and accessible for them. L&D trends are moving towards building a learning library that covers relevant topics, which are easily accessible for timely training.

 

5. Training that meets learners where they are

In line with building a learning library and choosing a flexible LMS, L&D priorities are making a shift from one-off programs to easy-to-digest microlearning content that is accessible on-demand. With a more technologically-driven and agile design, mobile and on-the-cloud learning helps maximize the learning library. Maximizing blended learning also allows L&D practitioners to offer effective and relevant delivery methods for their learners.

 

6. Regularly updated learning content

The shelf life of skills is shrinking. As new technologies become available, old skills are quickly becoming outdated. The LinkedIn report mentioned earlier states that the average shelf life of skills is less than five years. Learning professionals must place importance on skills maintenance and ensure that learners’ training materials are up-to-date.

 

7. Developing competencies for future roles

Investing in competencies for future roles, such as leadership development, should begin as soon as your new employee enters the door. L&D professionals must jumpstart a culture of learning in their organization and build a team that evolves with the times.

 

8. Emphasis on strengthening people skills

Our tech-driven world is breaking down communication skills which are important for organizations that are becoming more global and diverse. It’s critical to put more emphasis on developing these skills for better collaboration, communication, decision-making, and negotiation, among others. A good example of a soft skill that contributes to a competitive workforce is language skills.

 

9. Instructors as coaches rather than facilitators

New technologies shouldn’t gear L&D away from live trainers. Even though live training no longer plays a central role in many of training programs, they do play a part in ensuring that learners understand and retain information and skills. Their roles are merely shifting from facilitator to coaches or tutors, with greater emphasis on their ability to personalize the learning experience for each learner.

 

10. Leveraging training as an employee benefit

L&D programs have become a key differentiator between companies competing for talent. It plays an active role in engaging, motivating, retaining and empowering your best talent. According to Herzberg’s Motivation-Hygiene Theory, factors the cause job satisfaction include personal growth, recognition, or achievement. The lack of opportunities for career advancement is the second most frequently cited reason for leaving an organization.

 

With the current pace of tech evolution, as desirable skills change, globalization transforms our reach, and business needs and priorities shift, L&D professionals must be more deliberate in their approach to adapting to the times. Their function has transformed from mere event organizers to performance consultants, managing a culture of learning and developing competency models that are aligned with business objectives.

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