May 18, 2021

Trends in workplace learning and the outlook for 2021

Today, companies must rethink their traditional approach to workplace learning to gain access to the skill required to succeed today and in the future. Here are key learning trends to keep an eye on in 2021 and beyond.

The rules of work are being rewritten, and workplace learning has been on the rise over the last few years. Given the context of today’s world, workplace learning is even more critical for businesses as demand in certain industries – and even in certain branches of the business – is shifting. The pandemic has also demonstrated the importance of ensuring proper training is rolled out across the workforce for various procedures related to a potential crisis.

Change is constant which means companies must be prepared to adapt to evolving business environments. Organizations must prepare their people to transition into different roles to meet demand while also building the skills needed for tomorrow.

While learning was once seen as an added workplace benefit for attracting talent or a checkbox item to meet basic compliance training, it is now a critical step in gaining access to the skills required to succeed today and in the years ahead. According to McKinsey, businesses can’t afford to put skill building on hold. Employers must focus on balancing priorities: reskilling and training the workforce to meet demand and meeting the needs of a diverse workforce while prioritizing employee health and well-being,

Leveraging technology to deliver new learning experiences

During the pandemic, workplace learning had almost come to a complete halt. Roughly one-half of in-person learning programs through June 30, 2020 were postponed or cancelled in the U.S. and Canada, and in parts of Asia and Europe, the figure is closer to 100%. The COVID-19 pandemic created a greater need to leverage technology for remote workplace learning and as the world of work continues to evolve, learning will remain a priority for business leaders. In fact, many organizations are considering migrating some existing in-person training programs to an all-digital format; however, this requires a fundamental rethinking of the learning experience. Here are the key workplace learning trends to adopt.

Workplace learning trends for 2021 and beyond

1. Personalized

Employers are already moving away from a one-size-fits-all approach to learning initiatives, instead implementing new models and technology platforms that offer up relevant content throughout the employee lifecycle.

Personalized learning platforms or Learning Experience Platforms help organizations create customized learning paths for each employee as this type of technology recommends modules to the learner based on their own unique context.

2. Tailored

Workplace learning experiences will need to be tailored to the varying preferences, expectations, and learning styles of all their learners. What works for one group of people might not work for another. For example, traditional training manuals and long-form content might make it difficult for some employees to retain what they’ve learned, while for others, it may be an ideal format.

Companies must provide a variety of learning experiences to suit the needs of a diverse workforce – from mobile learning solutions, to a Netflix-style training experience where they can easily access modules that are customized to their own needs.

3. Contextual

Organizations need to consider the methods of delivery and type of content they’re providing for their people to ensure material is effectively retained. In fact, if information isn’t applied within six days, we forget about 75% of it. Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends report states that learning is evolving to become more integrated with work and daily tasks. Contextual learning or microlearning will help employees learn from short bits of information and immediately apply their learnings to the project or task at hand. For example, short snippets of information or videos pushed from mobile phones can help employees learn in the context of their work.

4. Accessible

Gone are the days where employees must sit at a desktop and block off a large amount of time to learn a new skill or new material. The modern workforce is in different places at different times and now workforces are dispersed as some employees are working from home while essential workers may have to remain on-site. Employers can remove friction points in the learning process by helping people learn on their own time, anywhere they are. Mobile learning solutions will provide the workforce with greater access to their learning materials when they don’t have time to sit at a desktop. This means ensuring learning can still be done when employees don’t have access to internet using offline mode.

5. Employee-driven

Social learning methods are another impactful way employees can build knowledge and skills quickly through peer collaboration and coaching in an informal setting. This type of learning enables employees to share concepts and ideas on discussion boards, allowing them to directly reply to questions and read answers on specific topics. Social learning experiences via mobile will help employees build knowledge and skills through peer collaboration and coaching in an informal setting as employees feel ownership over the content. Additionally, this type of learning experience will help keep remote workforces engaged and connected to their colleagues.

6. Integrated

Companies will also need to focus on tying employee learning paths to performance management to illustrate clear career progression and encourage employees to drive their own development. Additionally, employees will be more likely to participate in training and reskilling initiatives if they see the investment in their own development.

Related: Engage and retain top talent by elevating your employee learning experience

Embedding learning into the employee experience

While the COVID-19 pandemic has made leaders rethink their business as usual routines, it has also presented them with opportunity to transform their organizational preparedness plans and how they will gain access to the skill required to meet demand. Traditional ways of learning are simply not effective in the context of today’s fast-paced and constantly changing landscape.

Businesses must implement an effective learning and development strategy to acquire necessary skills, and, importantly, to keep the workforce engaged during this uncertain time. Creating a culture of continuous and real-time learning should be a priority, spurring the need to update the traditional learning infrastructure to make learning part of the broader and on-going employee experience.

Learn how Dayforce Learning helps organizations build learning into their culture

Britt Armour

Britt Armour is a content marketing specialist at Ceridian, where she writes about the HCM space, and how Dayforce is disrupting traditional HR solutions.  

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