What’s in store for learning and development in 2023?
Now that many of us are permanently either remote or hybrid working, the way we work and learn has changed forever. The shift towards blended learning has accelerated and with it, the adoption of digital solutions. While some organisations might be calling people back into the office, we can’t know for sure what’s going to happen, but what we do know is that learning professionals need to make plans that work both in-person and online. A ‘lift and shift’ approach to moving learning programmes online simply won’t cut it for the learner experience.
To wave goodbye to 2022 and welcome in the new year, we’ve compiled a list of the top trends we’ve been hearing about this year and which we’ll no doubt see more of in 2023.
1. L&D is taking on a marketing mindset
We’ve seen the buzz around marketing and learning building momentum over the past year or so, and it’s something we’ve been talking about for a few years now. Our customers often discuss the challenge of a lack of learner engagement and we always point them to the same thing – adopting a marketing mindset for L&D.
In 2021, Linkedin’s survey of over 6,000 respondents revealed that 35% of L&D professionals are looking for new ways to boost learner engagement. Increasingly, we are seeing an increased demand for strong marketing skills in L&D departments, yet according to the 2022 LPI Dashboard, ‘marketing and communications’ is listed as one of the five weakest skills for L&D professionals today.
We’d like to see 2023 as the year learning professionals will start to incorporate marketing tactics into their strategy to raise awareness of learning programmes and build a level of interest that will naturally lead to greater engagement with corporate learning and development.
The good news is that learning cultures have strengthened over the past year. Business leaders are now recognising the central role L&D has to play in reskilling and upskilling the workforce for a changing world of work – the result of which has been an increase in L&D budgets and 64% of L&D professionals reporting a stronger learning culture in the past year. This puts L&D professionals in a good position to market their offerings well and increase engagement.
However, this can only happen if we first establish awareness. Ultimately, you want people to ‘buy’ into L&D, which is why a marketing mindset is your secret weapon here. You can’t communicate effectively with your audience until you fully understand who they are and what they want. Today, people want and expect communications that are timely, personalised and relevant (e.g. you wouldn’t push communications about a new customer service course to anyone but those in a customer service role).
Summarise your target audience, objectives and timeline for promoting your learning programmes, then share it with your marketing team. Just a one-page summary will help them get a clear idea of how they can best work with you to raise awareness so you can then work to maintain engagement. We recommend drawing up an operational-level agreement to hold each department accountable for this.
You also need to think about what channels to use to best reach people. Is the intranet well-used and do you need to create a space within it to promote any new learning opportunities to specific cohorts? Think about meeting people where they are – the Thinqi learning system, for example, offers Slack and MS Teams integrations to push communications out to the relevant cohorts wherever they like to communicate. You can always test different methods to find the most effective communications mix, which again, is something your marketing team will be able to help you measure.
It’s about reaching the right people, with the relevant information, at the right time so you can help people answer that all-important question: “What’s in it for me?”
If you need a hand getting started with marketing communications in L&D, this free expert guide is essential for adding to your L&D toolkit. Our Thinqi experts are also on hand to provide full support on this for our customers – get in touch if you’d like to know more.
Developing future leaders is more critical than ever
A report from Humu revealed that managers are ready to quit. In fact, they’re twice more likely than individual contributors to be looking for new jobs. How can we plan succession for our organisations and move them forward against growth targets?
Topping this year’s annual Global Sentiment Survey, reskilling and upskilling play a key part in closing talent gaps as we adapt to these changes. For leaders, there’s a demand to be able to manage remote teams and demonstrate exemplary leadership during periods of stress and unpredictability. For employers, the increased number of people changing roles within the past year has amplified the need to retain top leadership talent. In 2022, nearly 60% of HR leaders reported that building critical skills and competencies were their number one priority, according to a survey by Gartner – and this trend looks set to continue.
It was unsurprising, therefore, to see skills and talent brought to the forefront at this year’s Learning Technologies conference. In their session on ‘Leadership Development’, our partners at Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) Helen Thomas and Julie Rogers, along with Professor Michael West, delivered an inspiring session on the importance of compassionate leadership in the NHS. This continued in further sessions – one of which was their annual conference at Cardiff Stadium, an opportunity for staff at NHS Wales to meet, share best practice and reconnect with the vision and strategy for HEIW for the forthcoming year.
Developing leadership talent was high on the agenda at this event. With a buzz of excitement around the evaluations tool in Thinqi's learning system, this will play a key part in HEIW’s talent management strategy going forward. It's a simple way to enhance the self-led learner experience and ensures everyone is able to assess themselves against success profiles and receive assessments from others as part of a 360 evaluation process.
We’ve seen a recent trend where the learning technologies used to deliver and monitor learning programmes are starting to incorporate talent and performance tools. This enables L&D to join forces with the HR department, so they can get involved in collective conversations around performance management and people development as part of the bigger picture. To learn more about this, check out our free talent management expert guide for L&D.
Some of these emerging tools include competency frameworks and success profiles, where you can define the criteria a person needs to fulfil a role successfully. This is not limited to specific knowledge or experience – this could also cover any competencies you define as essential for the role. It could also include those valuable soft skills such as leadership capability or emotional intelligence.
Along with success profiles, badges for learning and application and in-depth reporting tools, these are key functions within your learning technology to help people to achieve their true potential – and develop your great leaders of tomorrow, today.
3. Great learning content relies on good data
Data analysis was one of the factors we highlighted in our 2022 trends and we’re certain it’s not something that’s going to be dropping anywhere off the top of the agenda for L&D anytime soon.
Data continues to be a hot topic at learning events, with learning analytics still coming in at third place in the Global Sentiment Survey. This year’s LPI Dashboard also reveals that L&D professionals consider data analytics as one of their weakest five skills (along with marketing communications, as we noted above). As an L&D professional, you’re naturally familiar with the expectation to formulate learning and development strategies that drive performance in the organisation. You’re also likely well-acquainted with having to prove to the C-suite that your department is worth continued investment.
You should bear in mind the importance of data analysis when it comes to your learning content, too. After all, it might feel great to create content you think people will engage with. However, what do you want someone to do once they’ve engaged with it? Does it link back with your objectives? And how are you measuring success?
Simply pushing out content and courses isn’t enough for L&D. Vendors are now developing their offerings to ensure content is aligned with specific learner needs (or ‘goals and objectives’ in Thinqi), supported by powerful analytics. Sounds very similar to marketing, doesn’t it?
What content is being accessed? When is this content being accessed? Are curated resources being used? If not, why not? Feedback on performance is important – this means greater collaboration with line managers and the employees themselves to identify the impact on performance upon the completion of the learning activities in question.
Like marketing, L&D can also look at a/b testing to compare results. If one team consumes the learning content and another doesn’t, has there been any improvement in performance as a result of the content?
Advanced learning systems can recommend resources according to what the data reveals about their behaviours and preferences. For example, Thinqi can be plugged into Google Analytics for deeper insights into the content being searched for, the number of people accessing this content and how long they’re engaging with it. This helps you to identify in real-time exactly which topics are trending.
If you want to get clued up on data analysis in L&D, look no further than our free expert guide, designed to take the dread out of data. Grab yourself a coffee and get informed.
We’ve only covered a handful of trends we’ve observed gaining traction going into 2023. We’re keen to see how conversations on these evolve, and what else is creating a buzz in the learning and development world next year (which is why you’ll find us, as always, at the Learning Technologies show in May to chat to people about all things learning).
We can’t wait to see what 2023 brings and our team of experts are working hard to ensure Thinqi remains at the cutting edge of key developments, built on proven learning science and coupled with outstanding support. If there’s one thing we want to see in 2023, it’s more of the success our customers have already achieved as they set out their vision of success for the new year, and of course, to welcome new faces onto the Thinqi journey too.
Wishing you a happy new year from all of us here at Thinqi HQ!