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Organizational Learning: 5 Trends and Changes to Watch for Over the Next 5 Years

If your company is like most companies out there, you had to make a tremendous pivot in how you interacted, hired, onboarded, trained, and kept up with organizational culture at the beginning of 2020. Now, two years later, we are finding ourselves continuing in this ‘new world’ of business. Zoom, Teams, Slack, and other virtual meeting spaces are taking over how employees interact, interview, and train, and this digital world does not seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon. What does this mean for the future of organizational learning? What does this mean for individuals looking to upskill or reskill when needed? Experts have indicated five significant changes and trends regarding learning and development and organizational learning for business owners to keep an eye out for over the next five years.

Trend One: Rapid Upskilling and Reskilling

Employees have been leaving their companies in droves. So much so there is a new term for it, ‘The Great Resignation’. With the Great Resignation, individuals are looking at learning new skills because they are changing career paths altogether or upskilling to stay competitive in their current organization and industry. Rapid reskilling or upskilling will be the future of learning. To reskill or upskill an employees’ knowledge base or skill set requires the organization to be agile. Agility will become a key component in organizational learning. Agile learning methodologies will entail speed, flexibility, and collaboration.

Trend Two: Technology Changes

Second, technology will continue to transform all learning within an organization. Virtual education and digital learning supported by technology, software, AI, and machine learning will continue to evolve and impact organizational learning and learners alike. Interestingly, technology is not intended to dissolve in-person training sessions; it is an added compliment. Social interaction is still a vital part of learning. Technology has been changing rapidly over the years. For example, programs and tools we once purchased are now ones we license and pay a monthly subscription for. As mentioned by industry experts, these tools make it easier for employees to focus on what they are learning rather or doing their job rather than searching or wondering how to walk through the steps technically. (Anyone remember the early days of Photoshop)?

Technology also plays a critical role in collaboration; it will make collaborating more effortless and more effective with team members in different geographical locations. Additionally, technology and the future advancements we will continue to see will help people create their own learning spaces without visiting multiple applications. Micro-learning for short but effective bursts of learning to self-paced full courses, technology continues to transform the world of learning.

Trend Three: Virtual Instructor-Led Training

One expert in the field of training, Karen Hyder, learned a valuable lesson when forced to transition to virtual training acknowledged that trainers do not need to hold the audience captive to have a captive audience. The third change to watch for in the future is Virtual instructor-led training. Virtual instructor-led training creates a balance, both for the organizational leaders as well as the employees. Leaders will no longer need to send their employees to multi-day, offsite training for every training. Employees will put their knowledge and new information to use instantaneously. Not all virtual-based activities are the same. For example, virtual-based training needs to be more than just pre-recorded videos. There must be a balance between videos, self-paced learning, and live Q&A sessions. It must also be convenient and easy to access.

Trend Four: Data, Data, Data

Data has been around for decades helping leaders access ROI. But in the coming years, data will be helping learning and development departments even more. The fourth change to watch for, and even more important, to incorporate now is data-driven decision-making, especially regarding organizational learning. Learning developed and designed by data allows leaders to ask the right questions and the right time and plan around and for the organization’s future. This is also directly related to upskilling and reskilling, as mentioned previously. The importance of data is critical for the future of learning; it allows learning to take a proverbial seat at the leadership table and do something with it.

Data allows leaders and training staff to answer several questions that can directly impact the organization. For example, what makes employees more successful in learning? How many times are employees using what they learned on the job? Who is actively seeking to learn new skills? Data drives facts; emotion drives opinions. Aligning data-driven decisions in the world of learning and development will offer many benefits to trainers and leaders. Data-driven learning experiences include adaptive learning, recommendation engines, and assessment-based learning paths.

Adaptive learning should come directly from the data collected. Each person learns differently, has different levels of intelligence, and will use the information differently. Adaptive learning should also be combined with predictive analytics to understand how long it takes to complete each task, response expectancy, and overall assessment results. Adaptive learning allows trainers and educators to tailor learning packages and programs around a range of different needs.

Trend Five: Performance over Skills

Lastly, organizational learning will be redesigned to focus more on performance over skills. As employees are making their own decisions to upskill and reskill to stay competitive, organizations will start to focus on the performance of each employee. Performance is what drives business. When employees are not performing at the top of their game, the organization can’t perform at its top either. Emphasizing performance over skills will also help in hiring and training new employees. Performance over skill will be a long game for training and development departments. As mentioned above, learning and development have made their way to the leadership table, and this is how they prove they should be there. Training for training’s sake is no longer the answer; performance training will demonstrate the tangible impact on the bottom line for leaders to see.

No one could predict what the pandemic would do to businesses and how it caused the ‘new normal.’ The future of organizational learning will need to stay flexible, agile, and continue to pivot when needed. Employees are our best asset, and we need them to perform at their best and feel confident while doing the work. The five trends to watch out for, prepare for, and even better- get ahead of the game and start now are upskilling and reskilling, technology advancements including AI and machine learning, virtual instructor-led training, data, and training for performance over skills.

Invite your training and development department leads to the leadership table if you haven’t already. Begin to work with them and plan to collect the necessary data to drive decisions. Use this data to learn what the organization needs in terms of further training. Invest in technology and software now, so you are not behind when necessary for future growth. Performance over skill will take time and many adjustments to the training plan but keeping organizational learning as a strategic goal will keep you in the race.

Jenipher Cornelius

Jenipher Cornelius

I focus on the strategy, leadership development, and operational success of our member experience. As part of the executive team, I helped create the Member Success and Engagement group to solely focus on our current members. Relationship Management is our core value on the MSE Team. Coaching and training group leaders to ensure group meetings are productive, efficient, and enjoyable.

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