With 2018 already coming to an end, you might have noticed the hustle and bustle in the learning and development department as it’s the time to plan for the learning strategies for the new year 2019.  In today’s highly competitive corporate world, every organization is looking forward to providing the best of the learning strategies to prepare the multigenerational workforce to meet the challenges of the ever-changing and dynamic business environment.

Hence in this blog, let’s try to decode and predict the L&D trends that are going to define the year 2019.

1.Upskill and reskill

For an organization to develop its operations and for the employees to stay updated and be relevant in the business environment, they should upskill and reskill themselves. Hence it’s a bigger responsibility of the organization to establish a familiar process or a system that can help the learner in achieving this. Many organizations of today are actively encouraging their workers to leverage the digital learning channels such as mobile-based learning, micro-learning, massive open online courses (MOOCs). There are many organizations which enter into a strategic tie-up with many online course providers like Pluralsight, Coursera.org, Udemy for business etc to meet the need for varied business skills.

The increasing trend of upskilling and reskilling of the workforce helps an organization to make the employees ready for the future. But one cannot ignore the contribution and the self-effort needed from the employees or learners to own and share the responsibility to upskill and reskill themselves.

2. Meeting the needs of a multi-generational workforce

The corporate learning environment as we see today is vastly different than a few decades ago. At Least for another 5-10 years in the future, the organizations have to solve the biggest challenge of managing the multigenerational workforce that comprises mainly of the Baby boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, and the Gen Z. To combat this the organization should leverage the modern learning technologies, but by not fully ignoring the traditional learning initiatives like classroom training which is still a favorite of the older generation of the workforce.

Let’s not forget that each generation has unique learning preferences as well as specific motivators for engaging in the learning process, which is largely shaped by the learning environment, learning methods and technologies used etc. For example, an organization can use new e-learning strategies like gamification and game-based learning to engage the young generation of the workforce which may not be the right strategy for the older generation of workforce.

But despite the differences, employees across generations have some factors in common that shouldn’t be skipped or left unnoticed.

Recognition: When people are valued for the work they bring to the table, it makes them happier, more motivated and engaged.

Compensation: All generation of workforce seek to be compensated fairly. Therefore, it’s important for employers to reward their employees monetarily, as well as praise them for their achievements.

Flexibility: Rather than the learning to be forced on them, employees like to have a choice of when, where and how they can learn.

Let’s take a closer look at other learning strategies that will drive the learning initiatives to meet the demand of a multi-generational workforce in the organisations.

Mobile learning or m-learning involves the use of mobile technology to enable learning anytime and anywhere on the mobile device. The demand for mobile learning is definitely on a rise – from a good to have training mechanism or strategy,  it has become a must-have training strategy for every organisation. The increased penetration of mobile devices and high-speed internet connection has paved the way for the rise in popularity of mobile learning.

According to the statistics from Statista.com- In 2019 the number of mobile phone users will reach 4.68 billion. With an active YoY increase in the number of mobile phone users, there is no doubt that mobile phones will be the preferred mode to consume multimedia in the coming years. The power of digital and mobile access allows continuous accessibility of learning applications from anywhere and anytime. This is made more simple by mobile learning apps that provide more easy and smooth access to the learning content and also enable easy offline access. Thus the learners’ are now free from the constraints of time, place and the traditional learning handbooks. With the arrival of more personalized mobile gadgets like voice assistants, smart wearables etc. the corporate learning environment will be interesting and challenging to watch out for.  

Continuous learning strategies to engage the multigenerational learners.

Studies and reports tell us that continuous learning strategies are the best bet for training the future workforce. As per these reports,  millennials who are soon going to replace the existing workforce in the organization are already thinking about leaving the organization if they feel that the organization is not investing in their career and growth options.

According to a Pew survey, 61% of Americans under 30 years of age think that it is essential to develop new skills throughout their working lives which means that there is a rising demand for continuous learning. This is also due to the fact that, as a group, millennials tend to advance- up the corporate ladder at a much faster pace than others before them.

Promoting and implementing a continuous learning culture in an organization is not an easy task as it requires a change in the organizational culture that supports it. Moreover, it is a behavioral change that is essential to take the ownership of learning and understand the importance of continuous learning. To know more about barriers to organizational culture, you can read my blog here

3.Leveraging L&D to improve on boarding, performance and retention

Today the Learning and Development function at every organisation is no more restricted to its primary function of talent nurturing, instead, they should start playing a vital role in the following functions as well.

Attract and retain talent.

Develop people capabilities.

Create a value-based culture.

Motivate and engage employees.

Attract and retain talent

Today learning and development should focus on the critical function of employability. As mentioned earlier in my blog, the millennials are most likely to stay with the organization if the organization values the learning initiatives. Hence, as you see today the organizations provide a deeper focus on the learning and development initiatives to attract the modern workforce. This is also evident through the microlearning sites and social learning apps created by the organizations to attract talent.

The L&D function can play a critical role in onboarding—for example, by helping people build the skills to be successful in their role, providing new hires with access to digital-learning technologies etc. For example, when a learner is inducted to the sales team, the L&D team of the organization can show the relevant courses that are available for the sales team.

Develop people capabilities-

Companies are ready to make continuous investments in their leaders through various learning initiatives. In the future, it will be the increased responsibility of every L&D function to identify the learning and skill gap and then suggest the courses accordingly. Instead of playing a  passive role, the L&D function to consider the opinion and suggestion of the learners while designing the learning courses.

Retention of the employees

With modern learning technologies, the L&D team can ensure that the learners are actively engaged, when highly engaged employees are challenged and given the skills to grow and develop within their chosen career path, they are more likely to be satisfied with their current organization and will continue to stay.

4.The rise in demand for soft skills

The research and study reports denote an increasing demand for training the employees on the soft skills. Hence the biggest challenge the learning professionals will face next is addressing the gap between the soft skills people have vs the soft skills businesses need.

In fact, according to the latest Workplace Learning Report by LinkedIn, soft skills training is already the #1 priority for talent development for 2018,

Technology, organizational change and the introduction of new generations to the workforce are three important reasons why the demand for soft skills is rising so drastically. With a huge rise in demand, it’s time for the L&D team to jump in and provide the learning opportunities on soft skills training for the learners. In today’s dynamic business world, sharpening the soft skills is very important to stay relevant. With an orientation to climb higher positions in the career map, soft skills will be the most important priority for the future.

5.Gamification of corporate training

E-learning gamification will continue to be a trend in the year 2019. While the strategy is more than a decade old, it was only from the year 2013 that e-learning gamification gained the popularity and acceptance in the corporate training domain.  Once the organizations started enjoying the benefits derived out of implementing e-learning gamification for the corporate training requirement, gamification is now seen implemented in various areas. For example, there are many learning platforms that use the core drivers or game mechanics of gamification to bring the desired behavior changes among the learners.

The future of gamification is exciting and challenging and I am sure that we can see the implementation of gamification at various levels and learning topics.

6.Use of Learning Analytics To Identify Skill Gaps

According to Wikipedia- Learning analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs.

In today’s corporate training world, the organizations are seen increasingly using the modern learning analytics tool to plan a complete learning strategy for the learners.

The advanced learning analytics tools allow the organization to generate in-depth reports of learners that help the organization to identify the skill gaps and valuable insights to plan and deliver a personalized learning experience etc. Learning analytics also contributes to the inputs to estimate the ROI of learning etc.

7.Personalized learning approach

Personalised learning is a hot trending topic in the learning industry. From the regular one size fits all approach of learning,  learning is now more personalised and customised to the individual requirements and needs of the learners. The trend was visible from a  couple of years, by allowing the learners to input customised names, chose characters and objects to represent the learner virtually etc. The future of personalized learning looks very interesting   -when learning happens over online i.e through the various devices like smartphones, tablets, desktops and etc. there is a visible traceable footprint left by the learner which can be recorded and tracked. With the wider adoption of the LRS in the future, it will help an organisation to easily track the learning happening from anywhere and anywhere.

Also, let’s thank the latest innovations like Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning that helps the organisation to provide the best of personalised learning experience by studying the learner behavior patterns, preferences, and choices. etc.

Online learning websites like Udemy.com and coursera.org has already embedded AI and machine learning capabilities into their engine to  provide a personalized learning experience

Thus the future of personalised learning will redefine the training by helping the organisation to identify the learner gap and fix it accordingly. Hence, the primary function of talent nurturing of L&D will be driven more by reports generated through the learning analytics tool

8.Informal learning

Informal learning is the learning that occurs away from a structured, formal learning environment like a classroom or a training academy etc. With the developments in technology, informal learning is now.

The informal learning is on line with the 70 : 20 : 10 model developed by Morgan McCall, Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger, which provides that approximately 70 percent of workplace learning should take place on the job, while 20 percent should come from coaching, mentoring and feedback, and only 10% from formal training and reading.

Today with the rapid development in technology, the organisation has got many resources like using the benefits of social websites like Facebook and Linkedin or with the use of instant chat apps like WhatsApp to promote the informal learning. This has increased the importance of the concepts like User Generated Content where the learning materials are created by the learner themselves. A word of caution here is to have a control on the quality of content generated by the users.

9.C-suite and HR work together better to align goals

The year 2019, will see the increasing trend of both Human resource and the top C level executives in the organisations to align their thoughts and plan on what they want to achieve with the training initiatives. The plan should define the values, processes, and practices that employees, departments and the organization can use to increase their performance and competencies in today’ dynamic business world.

Hence 2019 should be the year where the L&D department, HR and the C-level executive should work together by breaking the silos that existed in the past. To implement a successful strategy, an organisation should make important ties with the important entities and build a strategic partnership.  Here are the most important entities with which they will need to build strategic partnerships:

•C-suite executives

•IT and technology

•Budget and finance

•Operations managers

•Sales managers

•Customer service managers

•External stakeholders

10.Bring up your internal leaders

The year 2019 will see the further reduction of the baby boomers from the workplace environment as they are nearing their retirement age and there are others who have announced their plans to take the voluntary retirements before their big final day.

With many of the baby boomer retiring from the positions of C level executives and as other heads of various strategic positions, the organization will see a dearth in the candidates to fill these roles immediately.  With organizations going for a possible bargained buyouts of leaders to fill the position, I don’t think that it’s a sustainable option for long. It involves burning of huge cash and then trying to fit the employee to the organizational culture. And if it fails, the return on investment is simply nil.

Hence, the organization should focus on identifying and training the future leaders internally and this will be a definite trend for the year 2019. This is supported by facts and studies that tells that the modern workforce comprising of mostly the millennials will leave their job within two years cite being unhappy with how their leadership skills were being developed as the primary reason. (Deloitte Study Report ).

Hence, it is the challenge of the HR department to identify the learners with key leadership potential and nurture them to be the leaders of tomorrow.
The organization can implement a mentorship program where the identified future leaders are mentored with a systematic plan in place.
The organization should offer leadership opportunities to watch and assess the leadership capabilities of the identified pack.
With dynamic business environment ahead, the organization should provide a boarding platform to train the future leaders. Hence the traditional learning initiatives alone is no more a solution. I recommend using a blended learning approach to design the training programs.

These are 10 popular L&D trends that I predict to be the most favorites in the environment of corporate learning. Feel free to share your suggestions and recommendations using the comment box below.