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6 L&D trends you’ve got to know for 2022

2022 is going to be a big year for L&D! 2020 and the COVID pandemic really opened people’s eyes to how important learning and development is, and you’ll see some numbers on that later on. The goodwill continued into 2021 for the most part, but were there signs that the temptation to return to the old ways could win? And if so, how can L&D ensure it gets the commitment and support it needs in 2022?

Hopefully, these six L&D trends for 2022 will explain all of that and help your department prepare for a successful year! 

  1. More focus on building learning ecosystems.
  2. L&D getting a seat at the table and reporting into the C-Suite.
  3. A growing need for learning at speed.
  4. L&D decision-making from the ground up.
  5. Building communities around learning and collaboration.
  6. Digital-first learning and a changing role for classroom learning.

More focus on building learning ecosystems

Back when the LMS dominated the learning landscape, we were facing a top-down approach to learning that took people out of the workflow. The content available to them was decided by somebody else, and the option was there to log in and learn outside of their day-to-day tasks.

Learners had very little flexibility or control over how they gained knowledge, which is probably where the rise of course libraries took off. A way to offer self-directed learning and give people choice. In 2020, it was revealed that LinkedIn Learning had reached 27 million users, and Udemy was being used by 35 million.

Much of that user base comes from companies offering course libraries to employees, but the better question is how many of those are active. Survey Monkey recently reported that “more than 70% of employees either don’t know if their employer offers access to online education platforms (e.g. Udemy, Udacity, or Coursera) or are confident that they don’t.”

Awareness aside, you’ve still got the issue of driving people outside the workflow to a tool that’s disconnected from all the other resources and knowledge that exist both in and out of your company. That’s where the idea and importance of building a learning ecosystem comes into play. 

First steps for building your learning ecosystem

First, we need to reconsider the definition of learning. In every scenario we’ve discussed so far, learning is perceived as something people do, not something that happens. None of these situations take into account the fact that people ask colleagues for advice, they tap a search into Google when they hit a hurdle at work and that they’re learning from newer forms of media like podcasts and YouTube channels. 

The more we realise there are many moving parts, the more we need to create an ecosystem where they all live and function together. All your content, all your people, all your tech, all your data – they work together to ensure learning experiences are driving your employees and business forward!

One of the biggest steps you can take is putting an end to scattered resources! When knowledge lives and learning happens in different places, it’s harder for people to find what they’re looking for. That also makes it far more difficult to measure learning’s impact and act more strategically as you build L&D initiatives. 

We don’t mean to brag, but HowNow could be that one place! We’ll curate content, give you the tools to create your own, allow you to integrate your content libraries and track learning in one dashboard. And we’d be happy to show you how, just fill out this short demo form.

L&D getting a seat at the table and reporting into the C-Suite

Some L&D departments are inching their chairs closer to the table, others are already there and worrying about how they can stay put beyond the starter conversations – and the secret could be a shift in who they’re reporting to. When L&D reports directly into the C-Suite, as opposed to HR, they’re able to have a direct impact on the business and prove they’re good company for the decision-making table.

It’s something we’ve already seen since the start of the pandemic, as it shifted into focus just how important learning is in times where adaptability is key! In March 2020, just 24% of L&D pros thought their department had a seat at the executive table. By June 2020, it reached 62%, creeping up to 63% in March 2021, according to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report.

Why? Because times are changing! Organisations are not only changing the way work, but their structure is shifting, and so is the way they view L&D. 66% of L&D pros agree learning and development is focused on rebuilding or reshaping the organisation this year, while 64% believe that L&D moved from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘need to have’ in 2021.

So, why is this still a trend for 2022? Because the battle is not over, plenty of L&D teams still need to win leadership over, and those with a seat at the table need to keep them onside. In June 2020, at the height of the pandemic, 70% of L&D pros agreed that their CEOs are active champions of learning, but that decreased to 62% in March 2021. The challenge is to stop that declining in 2022 as the temptation of returning to work normality lingers.

How can L&D win over the C-Suite?

By working with them directly! That shift allows L&D to be more proactive, as they can adopt the role of performance consultants and have conversations that truly allow them to understand the company goals and any pain points. Having that opportunity to ask why allows L&D to be more strategic and prescribe the right solution.

When L&D operates under HR, they lose that direct link and that often means they’re reactive to requests. But the biggest challenge of not having that link is that, in a world where things change quickly and the fastest learner wins, L&D is held up by red tape and chains of communication. 

“Going forward, CEOs should take back overall responsibility for corporate learning and give it a new raison d’être—namely, to improve the business’s performance in a way that enlarges its overall contribution to society. There can be no other rationale.” – Boston Consulting Group.

And, put simply, you can’t reinvent L&D if it’s attached to and living under HR’s control.

A growing need for learning at speed

Our first two trends each teach us something that adds up to our third! Learning is more effective and easier when people can find the resources they need, and L&D needs to be agile given how fast the world of work is changing as we enter 2022. And that adds up to a need for learning at speed.

How long do you think the average employee spends searching for information every day? Recent research shows that it’s roughly 2-2.5 hours or around 30% of their day! Imagine if even half of that could be put back into their role.

The challenge for L&D is to think about content’s format and where it can be found. Is it easy for people to find information in the moment of need? Does the format mean it’s easy to understand and apply when those moments arise? If not, learners will waste time getting to the information that matters. 

L&D decision-making from the ground up 

Coming back to collaboration with senior leaders, there seems to be a growing two-way street when it comes to decision-making too. In particular, when decisions are being made around learning technology and HR tools. 

If we take one more glance back to the LMS days, the decision would be made centrally, and the tech rolled to everyone else. At no point was there any consultation with the end-users or the people who would be managing them, so it’s no wonder a lot of people felt disconnected or demotivated.

Now, we’re seeing a more cross-functional approach to selecting tools and tech. Think about it, if you speak to people early on, take their feedback onboard and get them excited about the tool at the ground level, you stand a far better chance of them using it. And if you let managers come to you with suggestions, they’re closer to the people who’ll actually use the tech – so their input could be invaluable.

Building communities around learning and collaboration

Humans are social beings, and that applies to how we learn! According to LinkedIn’s 2021 Workplace Learning Report, “Learners who use social features — Q&A, course shares, and learning groups — watch 30x more hours of learning content than learners who don’t.”

And given the disconnected and distributed teams we’ve become over the past two years, it’s no surprise that more brands are now building community around their company learning. Typically that’s through a mix of live classes, interactions that happen around those and on-demand content that allows people to learn independently.

When you’re bringing people with common interests and shared goals together, you’re able to drive impact at scale by upskilling multiple people at once. Given that the group will be packed full of different experience and skill levels, it’s fertile ground for them to learn from each other, make collective progress and enhance their leadership or mentoring skills. 

Seth Godin’s Akimbo Workshops are a perfect example of this, bringing together global people of all ages and backgrounds to enhance their knowledge on a single topic. Experienced coaches lead sessions, participants can get involved in real time and then work on assignments that receive peer to peer feedback.

Digital-first learning and a changing role for classroom learning

For too long we’ve overused classroom training, building it around giving our employees new and more information. But we neglected the aspect of where and how it will be applied, Bob Mosher explained this idea when he joined used for a recent podcast episode on the 5 Moments of Need. 

Classroom training and in-person courses are like an L&D comfort blanket, they help people tick a training box and pack people off for a day or two. The biggest pitfall here is mindset, which we should be shifting to ‘apply first’. We need to understand someone’s workflow first, building learning around the situations in which they’ll be applying knowledge and the problems they’ll be solving in their day-to-day role.

And the past couple of years took that blanket away, driving L&D teams to deliver both synchronous and asynchronous learning online. 2022 needs to be the year we resist the urge to revert to type! Now is the moment to start using classroom training more intentionally. We need to consider when it will be effective, how digital-first resources can help those sessions run smoother and ensure the knowledge gained is transferred and applied to the employee’s role.