Where to Invest in Learning & Development: A Guide for Practitioners

L&D professionals are constantly adapting their strategies to help organizations and individual teams succeed, especially in today’s rapidly changing world of work. In this article, we cover the three areas L&D professionals should focus their efforts, based on the 2023 L&D Global Sentiment Survey by Donald Taylor.

Blinkist for Business — April 13, 2023

As we look to the future of work, it’s no surprise that Learning & Development (L&D) practitioners will play a critical role in helping organizations navigate this evolving landscape. Donald Taylor’s L&D Global Sentiment Survey (GSS) for 2023 provides valuable insights into where learning and development professionals should spend their time and effort for impact and success, especially in the next three years.

The GSS, which surveys 3,800 respondents from 106 countries, covers many areas of L&D, including the top subjects to center strategies around for 2023: digital transformation, reskilling, and leadership development. In this article, we’ll dive in to what L&D practitioners can do around each of these subjects to make a lasting impact.


The Acceleration of Digital Transformation in the Workplace

Digital transformation is not a new concept, but the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for organizations to adopt digital technologies. As remote work becomes more common, organizations must invest in digital infrastructure to support remote collaboration and communication. So what does this look like?

L&D practitioners can support digital transformation efforts by providing training programs on digital literacy, data analytics, and cybersecurity that come from either departments on staff, or external experts. These areas of growth and development can pose the biggest threats to safety, success, and longevity of a business if not addressed. But for these programs to be fully successful, practitioners must also help employees understand the benefits of digital technologies and how utilizing them can enhance their work and career instead of seeing these changes as a bother or something that “has to be done.”

See the benefits of embracing change. Read the Blink.

However, digital transformation is not just about technology. Paying attention to the human side of digital transformation by helping teams adapt to new ways of working and creating a culture that embraces change and innovation is crucial.

Employee experiences now will shape future adaption and reactions to technology changes.


Reskilling for Professional Growth and Retention

Many workers have recently experienced layoffs and redundancies or have transitioned into new roles with little experience or guidance. Our post-pandemic world and unpredictable economy have exacerbated the need for reskilling.

L&D practitioners can support reskilling efforts by identifying the skills in demand (whether it’s within a department or company-wide) and providing supportive resources like mentorships, coaching services, and learning tools that help workers acquire these new skills. This need extends to technical skills, such as programming and data analysis, as well as soft skills for business professionals, such as communication and teamwork.

Here are a few ways to encourage shared learning on a budget:

  1. Set up peer learning groups where employees can share their knowledge, skills, and experiences with one another in an informal setting that fosters social learning. At Blinkist, we are a big fan of the Donut app on Slack for remote coffee chats.
  2. Encourage employees to learn skills from other departments or areas of the company. This can help break down silos and promote collaboration.
  3. Job shadowing can be a low-cost way to encourage reskilling and upskilling. Employees can shadow colleagues with the skills they want to learn, observing how they work and asking questions.
  4. We’re biased, but try microlearning! Microlearning is an approach that involves delivering content in small, easily digestible chunks. It can take the form of  book summaries, short videos, podcasts, or infographics, making it easier for employees to fit learning into their busy schedules.


Socially Intelligent Leaders Come Out On Top

As organizations look to the future, it’s clear that teams will rely on and need leaders who can navigate the challenges of the hybrid-working world. L&D practitioners can support leadership development by offering resources centered around communication, collaboration, and adaptability. This could include gamification (which we discuss later in the article), remote-friendly interactive training, and project management software like Miro, Trello, and Asana, to name a few.

Create happier and stronger teams. Read the Blink.

When it comes to the impact on culture and belonging, it’s essential that diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are prioritized in leadership strategies. This laser focus will help people managers understand and create inclusive work environments that actually make a difference.

L&D practitioners can support DE&I in leadership development by offering regular coaching and mentoring for leaders that encourages diverse teams and work environments, as well as adapting internal language to be more inclusive across the board. Providing opportunities for leaders to engage with employees from different backgrounds and perspectives or programs that help them develop their skills in cultural intelligence and intercultural communication are also a great place to start when money is tight for outside resources.

For a deeper dive into the full GSS and an overview of the top trends over the past nine years, check out our eBook The Top L&D Trends: 2014-2023. We worked with Donald H. Taylor to uncover how priorities have shifted for L&D teams and more on the skills practitioners need moving forward.

Download the GSS eBook

Other Areas of Focus

While digital transformation, reskilling, and leadership development are the top three areas of focus for L&D in 2023 according to the GSS, there are some other notable areas to consider addressing we’d like to mention.

For example, employee engagement and retention will continue to be a critical issue for organizations. However, if L&D practitioners can create a sense of purpose and belonging for employees through the learning methods outlined above, this introduces a sense of belonging in the workplace, which is crucial to employee retention, and can lead to increased job satisfaction, commitment, and productivity.

Another area to focus on is the development of learning ecosystems. A learning ecosystem is a comprehensive approach to workplace learning and development that encompasses a variety of formal and informal learning opportunities, tools, and resources. These ecosystems promote agility, adaptability, improved performance, and innovation.

Read about Hays and their learning ecosystem here for an idea of how this can benefit a company long-term. As organizations become more complex and diverse, L&D practitioners must develop learning ecosystems that support the needs of all employees, regardless of their role or location.

Get inspired by AI in the business world. Read the Blink.

Finally, L&D practitioners must continually explore and adopt new technologies and learning modalities to remain effectively relevant. Artificial intelligence (AI) can be used to personalize learning experiences, automate administrative tasks, and provide real-time feedback for learners and leaders. Virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) offer immersive learning experiences that simulate real-life scenarios and allow learners to practice skills in a safe and controlled environment. Gamification can make learning more engaging and enjoyable for professionals by incorporating game elements into learning activities.

By embracing these technologies, L&D practitioners can create a more compelling and attractive learning strategy that fulfills a diverse set of needs and preferences. Plus, if we’re being transparent, AI is not going away, and it’s better to learn how it can help and hurt, sooner rather than later!

Looking Forward

Overall, the 2023 L&D Global Sentiment Survey highlights the importance of continuous learning and development in the modern workplace. L&D practitioners should take these learnings and see where they can supplement or support current strategies of work.

Additionally, practitioners can benefit from a more proactive than reactive approach to organizational challenges by looking forward to future years and developing a timeline on trends that are likely to grow or diminish in the industry.

Top L&D Trends 2014-2022: A Deep-Dive with Donald H. Taylor

To compare notes with like-minded practitioners and for more information on which tools and approaches to use for better outcomes, download this free eBook! You’ll learn more about what’s important in L&D right now, how trends have developed over the last 9 years, and a deeper look into which priorities deserve your time right now.

Download the eBook