Learning and Development Trends in the Workplace

The role of learning and development continues to expand with many learning leaders helping facilitate change initiatives in their organizations. In a time of unprecedented change due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, racial and social unrest globally last year due to the unlawful killing of George Floyd, and the impact globally, has resulted in leaders being required to rethink how their businesses operate and find new methods to reach their goals. The training function is integral to helping organisations transition to a remote workforce, shift in-person events to a virtual environment, and incorporate  innovation and agility into training.

  1. Soft Skills  – Research indicates that gaps in soft skills exist across all roles and functions. The pandemic has created an imminent need to close this gap due to remote working , especially in leadership roles. Stress , anxiety and overwhelm is running high therefore leaders must exhibit higher levels of empathy and emotional intelligence  in order to properly support and effectively communicate with employees.Soft skills have become core to organizational and employee success as they enhance emotional intelligence  and practice is needed to effectively develop this skill set. Face-to-face training is typically the chosen method of delivery, but virtual reality and augmented reality platforms are quickly emerging as a viable solution for practicing critical skills, such as delivering feedback, communication and active listening.
  2. Rapid Reskilling – The shift to remote work has  called for the immediate upskilling and reskilling of entire workforces. Agile learning methodologies that focus on speed, flexibility and collaboration are the future of L&D. This is the approach that will enable leaders to better manage the revolving door of perpetual skills gaps by ensuring people are rapidly reskilled for the benefit of work and business performance.
  3. Performance over Skills -The traditional remit of skills development is replaced with a longer lens focusing on overall business performance. Although this is still an emerging trend, it will soon become a deafening drumbeat as L&D programs are widely redesigned to drive performance ahead of skills.
  4. Learning designed by data -The mainstream adoption of data in corporate learning design. Progressive companies have been doing this for some time, but  in 2021 this will become the standard approach.The  benefits of this approach is that business leaders will be empowered to ask the right questions at the right time in order to understand what matters most and design learning solutions with both learner and organizational outcomes in mind.
  5. Increase in Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Training – The focus on diversity may have been heightened by widespread social unrest, particularly in the United States, however we know it’s far more than a knee-jerk reaction. Diversity training was already gaining traction across organizations large and small, especially as compliance with social and governance initiatives has become a mandate from the executive suite, board of directors, and investors.L&D teams, if they haven’t already, will need to figure out the best way to deliver this effectively and with up-to-date best practices. Diversity training in 2021 needs to go beyond what is or is not appropriate outward conduct in the workplace and seek to address issues such as unconscious bias as well.



Martina Witter

Accredited Cognitive Behaviour Therapist I Health and Wellbeing Consultant I Corporate Wellbeing Trainer

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