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ecord numbers of L&D lead- ers have completed this year’s benchmark, even though

the season only opened in May. What does this suggest? We like to think that L&D teams are finally gearing up for change and using benchmarking to review their strategies, modernise learning provision and capitalise on the trends that will drive business success. At the time of writing, 150

L&D leaders have put themselves through the procedure of reflecting and reviewing their current L&D strategy. Te results make for some very interesting reading, especially when we compare the data to that gathered over the last five years. Te research, as it stands, tells us

that there continues to be a strong desire to achieve behavioural change, to make the most of technology and to integrate learning into the workflow. So what, if anything, has changed? Here is what we’ve learnt so far:

Organisational performance is a priority

Early findings show that, in 2016, L&D professionals are starting to prioritise organisational performance improvement over cost reduction. So far this year, 95 per cent want to use technology to help improve organi- sational performance. Significantly, that is a 10 per cent rise from last year. What’s more, L&D leaders want to do this by applying our trade in smarter ways. For example, 96 per cent are looking to technology to help speed up the application of learning in the workplace. At the same time, 83 per cent want to reduce costs, which is down from last year when 88 per cent said this was a priority. Te focus on cost reduction peaked in 2013 when 90 per cent of the benchmark participants said it was a priority.

Creating a culture of compliance

In 2015, we saw that ability to ‘prove compliance with new regulations and legal requirements’ had been increasing year-on-year with 73 per cent saying this was a priority in 2010 and 88 per cent in 2015. However, in 2016 we see leaders want to move away from a purely tick-in- the-box experience to programmes that instead influence culture and

30 | August 2016 |

behaviour. For example, in 2016 86 per cent want to build compliant behaviours compared to just 78 per cent in 2015. Te increased desire to change behaviour and create a culture of compliance is critical – this is where real change happens!

Integrating learning and work

Early findings also show that L&D leaders are continuing to identify ways to support learning and performance that go beyond the traditional course. For example, in 2016, 91 per cent of L&D leaders are looking to integrate learning into the workflow, up from 80 per cent last year. Tis is an important shift in attitude that goes beyond applying specific models or tools. It may also be having a knock-on effect as L&D leaders are reporting more positive management engagement. In 2012, 53 per cent reported the fact that learning was not seen as a management priority. Early findings this year show that this has dropped to 41 per cent.

Shifting the blend

Naturally, technology and how it is used featured strongly in the results. How to make the best use of technology, what technology to use and how employees are already using technology to carry out their learning are issues faced by virtually every

❝ wholesale change is still to come.

Tis latest research shows that:  55 per cent of programmes are offered by face-to-face only (so far, that is the same figure as last year).

 23 per cent of programmes are offered online only (up from 19 per cent last year).

 22 per cent are offered using a blend of face-to-face and technology (a drop from last year’s figure of 26 per cent).

While technology plays an important part in helping L&D leaders achieve their aspirations, the actual pace of technological change is also a barrier for two in five this year, a similar figure to last year.

Content medium of choice

Tere has been a lot of debate regard- ing the role of traditional e-learning courses which have been the stock-in- trade of the L&D professional for the last decade or so. For example, since 2011 we’ve seen the use of generic off-the-shelf e-learning courses rise slightly year-on-year (last year 68 per cent were using generic libraries and 75 per cent were predicting to use them in 2016). Tis year it has dropped slightly to 63 per cent. Generic e-learning content is

certainly not dead. In 2016, two in five respondents criticised e-learning for being too generic and insufficiently

L&D professionals are starting to prioritise organisational performance improvement over cost reduction

L&D leader, team and professional. Despite the recognition that

technology is driving learning now and has to be at the heart of any modern learning strategy, there is still a heavy reliance on face-to-face training. Last year’s benchmarking research, ‘Embracing Change: Improving Performance of Business, Individuals and the L&D Team’, revealed that 74 per cent of respondents predicted that face-to-face learning would decrease and that blended and online learning would increase. Has it happened? It would appear that significant

tailored to specific needs. In 2014 it was three in five, so perhaps we are just getting smarter at using content more appropriately. Video usage is proving strong

but, again, take up has not been as quick or as widespread as had been expected. Currently, three in five are using video to capture and share best practice within their organisation, a similar figure to last year and the year before, despite nearly 80 per cent predicting its use by 2016. We’ll be exploring how L&D is using content, platforms and

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