As I look ahead to next year, 2024 has the potential to be an active one for learning professionals. Many projected business needs have direct connections to employee training. The future of learning is likely to impact most organizations – large and small.
Big Picture Trends
A few of the major trends effecting the way that companies will operate include:
- Skills Gaps
- Employee Engagement
- Staff Well-being
- Demographic Shifts
- Workforce Locations
- Artificial Intelligence
According to the World Economic Forum, 44% of workers’ skills will be disrupted in the next five years given the current pace of technological advancements. I think it’s fair to say that this percentage is likely to increase given how quickly technology has changed in the last two years alone! Already in 2023, 77% of businesses have expressed difficulty in finding the skilled talent they need. Internal capacity building will be vital to long-term success.
Disengaged team members cost businesses thousands of dollars each year in lost productivity. While many elements contribute to the motivation and connection that staff feel with their work, employees consistently rank career advancement and learning opportunities as particularly important to their engagement and loyalty. Meaningful training experiences can have a direct impact on worker retention.
44% of personnel worldwide report feeling a great deal of stress in their workdays. This anxiety impacts both the individual’s health as well as that of the corporation as high tension tends to result in lower productivity, higher absenteeism and quiet quitting. Training experts have a chance to mitigate burnout and counteract its negative impacts.
There are now five generations employed in the workforce, and Gen Z is the most diverse to date. And, as businesses expand their footprints and settle into remote or hybrid work models, they are increasingly hiring team members from different countries or regions. Employee development can support the alignment of diverse groups.
Many companies continue to assess how physical workspaces will play a part in their futures. While there have been numerous headlines about the increased demand for workers return to the office, the majority seem to be settling into a hybrid approach, which has implications for how staff are trained to collaborate, communicate and connect.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
There is simply no way to get through an article about trends without mentioning artificial intelligence! While there is much potential and uncertainty around the use of AI in business, it’s safe to say that it will impact every facet of the workplace, including learning and growth. Talent leaders would be wise to stay abreast of the rapid advancement of AI and make direct connections to the implications for their workforce.
Impact on Talent Development
To create meaningful programs that positively support the future of work, training professionals can focus their efforts on:
- Upskilling and reskilling
- Management and leadership development
- Career conversations
- Wellness programming
- Inclusion initiatives
- Hybrid best practices
- Data-focused decisions
Upskilling and Reskilling
In addition to providing resources to ensure that team members perform in their roles today, Learning & Development (L&D) teams can prepare programming to address tomorrow’s needs. Companies that upskill internal staff to fill the job responsibilities needed to stimulate ongoing growth will be much better positioned for success than those who are relying on external hires.
To support their organizations, L&D professionals may partner with leadership to understand how the skills landscape is shifting across various functions and identify the new capacities required for the future of work. Additionally, a focus on soft skills such as communication, critical thinking and adaptability will empower workers to thrive in a rapidly changing workplace.
Management and Leadership Development
Executives and supervisors play a pivotal role in driving the engagement of staff and ensuring that employees stay motivated at work without reaching the point of burnout. By investing in management and leadership development programming, talent experts will provide relevant tools and resources to boost engagement (and ultimately productivity).
Consider training managers and leaders in skills like empathy, emotional intelligence and time management. Additionally, utilizing solutions like Emergenetics allows leaders to understand what energizes their people and how to apply this knowledge to inspire their teams.
Skill building (as discussed above) is just one avenue to achieving the career growth that is so motivating to so many. Another option includes teaching managers how to have productive coaching conversations that uncover their direct reports’ long-term aspirations and build a plan to empower personnel to reach these objectives.
L&D teams may also influence job growth by creating personalized growth plans. Using AI to suggest learning opportunities as well as offering resources that enable workers to engage in networking, external and internal training or conferences can all support long-term career viability.
Wellness is the responsibility of multiple teams within any organization. From the lens of learning, HR and/or L&D professionals may host courses related to stress management or time management. It is also beneficial to work directly with supervisors to provide them with tools to address pressure within their teams.
Beyond physical and mental well-being, find opportunities to strengthen the social and emotional wellness of staff. Producing programming that is designed to stimulate psychological safety and connection promotes a healthier work environment.
As diversity increases inside an organization and in the world around us, talent development specialists can deliver learning experiences to broaden mindsets and inspire individuals to embrace differences. At Emergenetics, we know that diverse perspectives are a source of strength and innovation, and training experts can raise awareness of this truth in their initiatives.
Offering educational sessions that promote diversity, equity and inclusion is an important step in cultivating a sense of belonging in the workplace. Be mindful to consider diversity from multiple perspectives, including diversity of thought, accessibility, socio-economic differences and beyond.
Hybrid Best Practices
While I expect that the debate will continue about the best work model for each company, the majority of companies have accepted that hybrid work is here to stay. With this understanding comes the opportunity to make the model truly work for the business.
Seek out best practices from inside and outside of the organization and begin delivering resources that allow individuals to collaborate effectively from a range of locations. Helping personnel build skill in communicating through multiple channels, working asynchronously and advancing decision-making through a network of systems will boost long-term productivity.
There is almost an overwhelming amount of data and AI solutions available these days. While it can be challenging to stay apprised of these evolving tools, it’s most important that L&D teams take a step back to assess what information is most important to their decision-making process.
Some areas where AI and data could impact the department include understanding the most effective delivery mechanisms for different content, suggesting next steps in a personalized learning journey, analyzing the impact of programs, assessing engagement during coursework and much more. Start by identifying the burning questions of the department and the core metrics for success. Then, focus on the data sources or AI tools that can best support those priorities.
Talent development has the potential to drive long-term growth for organizations and their people. By making connections to trending needs, learning professionals will position themselves as fundamental contributors to the company’s achievements and champions of happy, productive workplaces.
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