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A Transformative Year for Corporate Training

Bite-Sized & Engaging: A Look at 2017’s Major L&D Changes

Earlier in this series, we highlighted some of the technology-related factors that transformed work in 2017—among them, increased cloud adoption, a growing emphasis on collaboration, and a drive toward broader and deeper technology integration.

These changes have immense potential to enable both employees and organizations to boost productivity, encourage innovation, and create entirely new business opportunities. But, as we stated last week, there’s a catch—to achieve that potential, employees must know how to use the tools. With more distractions, frequent software updates and rapidly changing business objectives, it has become increasingly hard for workers to keep up.

This year, business leaders began to understand that sporadic, one-size-fits-all training doesn’t meet employees’ complex, often-changing needs. In 2017, overhauling corporate L&D became the second most important topic for CEOs and HR leaders—up from fifth the previous year, according to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends report.

In 2017, overhauling corporate L&D became the second most important topic for CEOs and HR leaders—up from fifth the previous year

Although this is only the beginning of corporate L&D’s transformation, this year some organizations began experimenting with new approaches. Of note:

  1. Continuous Learning: Skills become obsolete at a much faster rate today—consider how often software is updated, how frequently new applications are rolled out, and how quickly business objectives are shifted. Increased cloud adoption is one of the contributing factors. In October, Gartner reported that 2016 software as a service (SaaS) revenue was greater than expected—$48.2 billion. Gartner also noted that SaaS has been growing faster in 2017 than previously forecast. This year’s expected SaaS revenue is $58.6 billion, a 21 percent increase over 2016.
  2. The future is not one-size-fits-all, but varied and fluid: Studies have shown that engaging all the senses in a variety of ways—for example, audiovisual and tactile—can increase learning retention. In addition, research suggests that there is no universal “best” way to learn—it depends on several factors, including the learning objective, the subject matter, and each person’s preferred learning style.
  3. Employee-centered approaches: The value of a human-centered approach to L&D became evident this year. Organizations have begun to regard employees as customers, and are shifting their L&D approaches accordingly. Training is becoming more accessible, mobile, bite-sized, relevant, and engaging.
  4. Feedback is key: This year, feedback moved closer to becoming a key component of a successful L&D approach. Learning leaders have begun to recognize that training approaches must evolve to stay relevant and effective. This year, organizations got serious about feedback. According to Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report, 79 percent of executives rated the redesign of performance management as a high priority, up from 71 percent in previous years.

For next year, expect even more change in corporate L&D—experts are predicting more customization, an emphasis on agility, a focus on closing the digital skills gap, a drive toward strengthening people skills, and more.

Next week: We wrap up our series with a look at what’s ahead for 2018.

Jen is an award-winning journalist who writes about workplace productivity and technology for Vitalyst. She believes in the power of using plain language, especially when writing about technology, and lists “achieving and enabling clarity” among her life goals.

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