If I had a dollar for every time I hear the refrains ‘we need do more with less’, ‘if you build it, they won’t come‘ and ‘L&D needs a seat at the table’, I’d almost have enough dollars for a best-in-class LXP (learning experience platform) license.
Depending on what day it is, you can feel like nothing has changed in L&D (learning and development), that the industry has been treading water for decades, since around the time the sadly missed Jay Cross coined the term ‘e-learning’ back in the late 1990s.
And then the next day, you’d only need to scroll your socials for a couple of minutes to find a new piece of tech innovation to be blown away by, visible proof of a fast changing industry, unrecognizable from the turn of the millennium.
Aside from smartphones, the internet and artificial intelligence (AI), COVID-19 is probably the next biggest driver of change in business, and that includes HR and L&D.
This pandemic is far from done with us it seems, but we should already be looking to what successful HR and L&D looks like in a post-pandemic world.
So – let’s get hopeful. Here’s what I hope will happen in the L&D space over the next five years.
1. Learners take control
The most successful learning initiatives are the ones that are co-created with the target audience.
Involve your cohort. Ask them what they want to learn and how (and no, I don’t mean learning styles.
My wife works for the National Health Service, and while I know the organization has produced several award winning learning programs over the years, it’s also such a vast entity that you find pockets of employees who have been left with nothing but click next e-learning to upskill themselves, the poor lambs.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We know that experiential learning is the most efficient and powerful way to learn, so make that a key part of your learner-created curriculum.
2. Learning days
Employees should get one whole day per month to learn whatever they want. That’s around 5% of your work time. And – it needs to be protected. Don’t you dare book in a meeting on my learning day!
The thinking is this policy would engender trust, promote wellbeing, improve culture and workplace happiness, and even be good for the company brand too.
Google has had this policy in place for nearly 20 years, where their policy is a whopping 20% of an employee’s work time. But then it did lead to the creation of Gmail, for example. Which leads to an important caveat: The learning needs to be work-related in some way.
3. True learning flexibility
Inspiration doesn’t often come at a convenient time of day, and neither does motivation to learn. Your L&D strategy needs to acknowledge that reality.
And if you use push notifications to keep people on track, try to design them so people don’t immediately delete them.
Started on your smartphone but transferring to your laptop? This standard functionality should be the bare minimum.
4. Stop making everything bite size
We get it. Everyone is time poor. And so bite-size, just-in-time learning makes a lot of sense.
But not everything HAS to be in chunks of 30 seconds. Some topics simply require longer to embed themselves in your frontal lobe.
This is not a call to create 30-minute long videos or 20-page pdfs. But it is a request to recognize there is still a place for deeper, lengthier learning programs.
5. We learn to love the robots
We’ve come a long way since the very early days of voice assistants – Radio Rex was a voice-controlled toy dog, released in 1922 – but it’s amazing to think that some form of artificial intelligence has been around for that long.
And, whether you’re a fatalist or a fantasist, you can’t deny the value of AI in the day-to-day.
So, let’s continue to accept AI and use it to truly augment what we do, to accelerate our learning, our workflow and our performance at work.
My hope is that the belief of L&D’s importance grows and stays central to HR leaders’ plans.
I’ll end as I began, with two
cliches questions I still sometimes hear in learning circles – what happens if you train your people and they leave? What happens if you don’t train your people and they stay?