What does 2020 have in store for L&D?

Mandy Chapman explores the trends.

Reading time: 5 minutes

Historically, one of the biggest issues with learning and development is that it has tended to be managed in a silo.

As we look ahead to 2020 and beyond, we can see that beginning to change as a growing number of businesses start to focus on breaking down process silos.

Recently I worked with a large university where we lifted the lid on where and how L&D efforts were being delivered.

It turned out that they had 32 learning portals or applications, 16 L&D teams all working differently and 50 different L&D processes – and they didn’t even know it.

It is still common today to see L&D teams that struggle to link performance reviews and development needs to the content they offer.

All of this inevitably amounts to an inefficient approach where employees aren’t getting what they need and therefore the business does not move at the pace required – this urgently needs to change.

In contrast, when development, information and processes are intrinsically linked across the employee lifecycle, it brings far-reaching benefits for staff and employer alike.

When you reflect on employees having appraisals or one-to-one and having to think about their goals for the year or their career path, they are above all going to want to know how to bridge the gaps, and this is where clever techniques and technology come in.

We are starting to see separate data silos being broken down within solutions today, so that the information accessed by employees and employers alike is more contextual and the old information silos more closely interlinked.

That could mean for example, that when the employee starts to look at their organisational goals (around financial management, for example), the system offers them complementary training opportunities in the form of videos, articles or online courses.

Once the data silos have been broken down, AI can play a key role here too in delivering recommendations that are tailored to the employee’s previous activity.

So would I expect learning and development to be a growing priority for businesses as we move forward into next year? Absolutely yes

There are many other ways in which the focus for learning and development technology is changing today.

One large retailer recently shifted its approach to learning up a gear, putting knowledge sharing and learning into the hands of its stores.

If one store had a brilliant Christmas sales result, the employees within that store would make a video and talk about what they did to improve sales there, perhaps showing their store fronts, sharing some of their most successful initiatives and techniques used to attract customers.

They could then upload the video as learning content on their people portal to share with other stores and colleagues around the business. It is another way of bringing learning to life and ensuring that great practice is shared – something that historically was very difficult.

The great benefit of this is that L&D are not wholly responsible for all content – the power is given to employees to share what really works well and to truly collaborate.

L&D become facilitators rather than a traditional delivery team, harnessing new technology where it can make the biggest difference to the bottom line.

We are also seeing a real shift away from a one-size-fits-all approach to one where employees are allowed, and even encouraged, to choose their own learning style and to learn in more than one way on a particular topic.

This in turn helps to cement the learning and enable better recall. Recent research by neurologist Judy Willis supports this theory and ensures that we have learned, rather than just memorised information.

There is much greater opportunity today for employees to learn in different ways. Everyone is different in this respect regardless of age, gender, race or socioeconomic status. Some like formal classroom learning, some prefer listening to podcasts on the train. Some people love reading books, some prefer webinars, videos and online learning.

Businesses need to cater for these differences and provide a wide range of choice in the way learning and development is delivered. They need to give people what they need when they need it. 

Another big trend we see relates to identifying mentors within the business – someone with the skills and experience to work with you on the types of projects you want to work on.



In a large organisation with 30,000 staff dispersed around the world, this might be difficult – but the latest technology can help in pinpointing who is best suited, even if they work in the UAE and you are based in the UK, by matching you with suitable mentors based on your specific development focus and their areas of experience or expertise.

This focus on mentoring plays into another big trend we are seeing as 2020 dawns – the inverted pyramid of a liberated company – where leadership at the bottom is effectively working for the employees – and leaders become true mentors and coaches.

This push to have managers in the business become leaders by coaching and creating great teams has seen huge change emerge in organisations.

As we look to the future, AI does have a key role to play too. We have a very transient workforce today, so learning and development is becoming an increasingly important part of the employee value proposition (EVP) alongside salary and benefits – if an organisation truly cares about your development then loyalty comes as standard.

Alongside development needs for the role, personal and career development needs are bound increasingly closely together in this mix.

So would I expect learning and development to be a growing priority for businesses as we move forward into next year? Absolutely yes.

For large organisations in particular, continual learning and innovation is high up the corporate agenda and is only going to rise further as the landscape becomes more competitive across every industry. We are living in very exciting times.


About the author

Mandy Chapman is an HR strategy specialist at HRCubed




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