6 L&D Trends That Will Impact Your Workforce

As digital technology becomes both more robust and complex, it also becomes easier and more difficult to use. It allows businesses and professionals to achieve more than ever before in a faster amount of time. However, technology can also be difficult as it continuously presents something new to learn.

That's why more companies are looking at forming or reinforcing their Learning & Development (L&D) departments. We no longer live in a world where a business uses the same methods and technologies that they did 20 years ago. 

Today’s businesses must keep abreast of new technological and business developments. If they don’t, they'll be overtaken by competitors that are willing to do what they are not: improve and adapt to new circumstances.

For L&D or human resources executives, it's key to ensure that their company is focused on the right areas. In this article, we explore 6 emerging trends that are becoming crucial.

1. Learning Management Systems

The Learning Management System (LMS) is the cornerstone of any effective learning initiative as it houses the software, techniques and tools used to ensure that a workforce is effectively educated when it comes to relevant aspects of the job.

Without a structured system, companies create a lot of logistical issues. For example:

  • How do you ensure that your workforce is learning what they need to if you don’t standardize and supervise it? 
  • When do you expect your workforce to undertake this learning? 
  • What will they be learning from?

A robust LMS answers all of these questions, giving reliability and control over what a workforce learns and how they apply it on the job. 

Proper planning, training, and implementation are critical. So, research the areas your business is interested in, find out what elements can improve the business, and formulate the training and systems you will need to ensure your workforce gets that training.

A proper LMS helps retain more employees and adds value to a workforce, even allowing promotion from within.

2. Virtual Reality & Artificial Intelligence

VR trianing for police officers

It’s not just new software that the workforce of the near future will need to learn how to use; it is entirely different forms of interface and interaction. Virtual reality (VR) and its counterpart augmented reality (AR), for example, will make big waves in many different industries.

VR, in particular, is already shaping up to be an important learning and development tool as one of the most useful technologies for simulation and training. The ability to create a virtual environment, complete with props and characters, makes it perfect for different types of learning experiences, and countries like Singapore are already using it for CSI training

Augmented reality is another great potential learning tool, as AR headsets can add additional information and context to learning, creating a holographic experience that enhances teaching.

Also, artificial intelligence (AI) can make a big breakthrough as 'smart systems' allow for faster processing of information, accelerating just how quickly data can be compiled and put to good use. While AI won’t be making business decisions just yet, it can quickly process the information decision makers require so that they can come to conclusions faster.

3. Analytics

Data is only useful if people have access to the right kind and know what to do with it. Analytics is the discipline of diving into huge amounts of data and retrieving what is actually useful so that you can put it into good practice. 

Analytics means that information is being collected, not simply distributed for training. With analytics, you can discern where the workforce is quickly learning and where they are experiencing difficulties, and then you can arrive at solutions.

For L&D departments that want the most effective and efficient LMS, configured to ensure that training is received and understood with minimal downtime, analytics is essential for honing an LMS to where it needs to be. 

Good reporting features and added enhancements like data visualizations can help to spot trends and optimize learning for more consistent, reliable results.

4. Internal Collaboration

Integration is a key technique going forward for most businesses, especially where technology is concerned. 

For example, the IT department of most companies can no longer be one that doesn’t interact with any others. Since technology is now so heavily integrated into many different aspects of the day-to-day operation, IT must collaborate with other departments to better provide what they need.

This same kind of internal collaboration is also essential for training. All departments need to be in communication about what training is necessary to make a specific department run more smoothly. When every part of a business is optimized, all operations function at their best. For example, IT must inform the HR department that a new document management system is about to be implemented to raise overall company efficiency and training is forthcoming.

Internal collaboration and open communication between different units are essential to arriving at effective learning and development initiatives and systems that benefit a company.

5. Mobility

Meet the Modern Learner

We are now living in an age where BYOD, or 'Bring Your Own Device,' is becoming increasingly common. 

Today’s world is increasingly mobile, and that means the workforce is too. Employee training no longer has to occur at a fixed time, in a room set aside for it. 

Microlearning can occur on to go. In some cases, it may even be necessary, especially for time-sensitive work, when employees need to learn quickly while on the move, in order to maintain the first-mover advantage.

Mobility, however, must be carefully planned. An elearning program that is perfect for android devices, for example, does a company no good if most of the employees are using an iPhone. 

As with other aspects of L&D, a company must look at what it wants the workforce to learn and then look at the methods already available or most effective in the context of the workforce that’s currently active. 

6. Customization Gets Better Results

A one-size-fits-all apporach no longer works when training workforces. 

Customization or personalization can increase the efficiency and results of workforce training by considerable margins. The reason for this is simple: when people learn the way they prefer to, they learn faster and retain that training.

Standardized training, for example, may entail handing out a booklet, conducting a lecture at a fixed time, and then issuing certification after a written exam in a classroom setting. That will get some results but will not necessarily get the desired results.

If your business offers different learning styles - online, microlearning, blended - the final evaluations will often result in much higher scores overall, as opposed to having only a few exceptional results, with the majority being only adequate or mediocre.

With personalization, it’s important to understand not just how the workforce learns but what they wish to learn and why they want to learn it. 

Understanding the goals of management and the workforce can help make learning more precise, and in some cases, the learning initiatives can become a point of pride for retaining employees and attracting new talent.

Final thoughts

A workforce that can learn new things will avoid obsolescence. In today's fast paced climate, iit's keep for companies to provide valuable lifelong learning to retain and attract new employees.  

Employees will feel more confident and add value to a company, which makes a difference in day-to-day operations and future innovations.

Emma Knightley