2020 has been a roller coaster, and learning and development professionals have been feeling all the ups and downs. The sudden shift to remote work, due to the pandemic, meant adapting long-standing training programs and practices. The uncertainty about the future makes it hard to anticipate what skills employees will need to solve tomorrow’s challenges.
What will learning look like in 2021 and beyond?
After combing through the learning behaviors of the top global companies of 2020, some learning and development trends emerged. Read on to gain insights on how to prepare for 2021, and understand which skill will shape you in the year ahead.
1. Pursuit of Self-mastery
Mental health and its effect on workplace productivity is no longer a taboo topic. Wellness has become a frequent discussion point in the last few years. And, based on the demand for these skills in 2020, employees are gaining the skills needed to bring their best selves to work.
Skills related to this trend:
- Mental health: Anxiety management, resilience, and stress management
- Productivity: Time management, motivation, and focus mastery
As the workforce continues to grapple with the challenges of the pandemic, employee well-being should be an ongoing priority.
2. Remote collaboration
The communication process is often taken for granted. This can be significantly relevant now, as teams navigate a sea of digital communications ambiguity since the start of the pandemic. In 2020, the high demand for communication skills shows that teams are adjusting to becoming better listeners, make space for healthy debate — and more importantly, each other.
Skills related to this trend:
- Communication: Conflict management, business writing, and interpersonal feedback
- Leadership: Decision making, facilitation, and cultural awareness
In this new remote environment, teams are beginning to emphasize the skills needed to “crack the code” on collaboration.
3. Expect Smaller Teams to Remain the Norm
The pandemic ushered in unparalleled financial challenges for large and small businesses. It’s probably safe to say that no business has been unscathed. One of the immediate results of that was a necessary downsizing in teams. That trend can continue into 2021 as businesses attempt to recoup lost profitability without hiring more talent.
For L&D, smaller teams can mean several things, including:
- Less demand for L&D resources at any particular time should lighten the load on content delivery systems/learning management systems.
- An increased need for team members to wear more than one hat, which may increase the need for cross-training and additional development beyond what would have been necessary before the pandemic.
- A greater need for training on communication and agile processes due to fewer people on the team and fewer hands on the project.
4. Gamification Will Be Even Bigger
Gamification has been creating waves in the L&D space for quite some time, however, you can expect it to gain even more traction in 2021. Several reasons exist for this, including:
- Organizations monitoring communications and remote learning during the pandemic noted that gamified elements created higher levels of engagement in participants and also helped them achieve better information retention. Those benefits cannot be ignored as more people are moving back to the office.
- Gamification can provide a level of competition that encourages employees to perform better to “win”. This can spur them to not achieve higher scores on modules but can be instrumental in getting the necessary “buy-in” for completing future courses.
5. Learning Agility and Upskilling are the New Normal in 2021!
Despite the tumult of 2020, a bright future lies ahead with training at its core. You’ll grow your company’s upskilling opportunities and strengthen its learning agility. It all starts with empowering your employees to learn and guiding them with the tools that will prepare them for tomorrow’s opportunities.