Learning and Development 2023: Navigating the Biggest Challenges

Learning and Development 2023 Navigating the Biggest Challenges blog image

If you’re like most L&D professionals, you’re astounded by the fact of how much uncertainty and rapid change is still happening, even while we emerge from the Pandemic.  We call this the world of no normal.  It feels like we have jumped back and forth from the frying pan to the fire several times between changing COVID requirements, the great resignation, supply chain issues, and now inflation and possibly a global recession.  The biggest challenge by far is that organizations are concerned about how to continue to develop the skills they need to be successful now and in the future. 

One positive result of the upheaval however, has highlighted the critical importance of employee training and development, what you do as an L&D professional, to give employees the information, knowledge, and skills to keep business running. Brandon Hall Group (BHG) states that 62% of companies in a recent survey say their leadership views L&D as important or very important to the success of the business.   Yet only 37% of companies feel well positioned or very well positioned to develop the skills their organizations need for the future of work. 

As you look ahead to the year, these are the areas where you’ll likely face difficulty, according to BHG and what we’ve heard from our customers. We also offer ideas on how to best navigate them. 

Not Having Enough Resources

Most likely, you’re continually grappling with the fact that you don’t have the time, people, or resources you need to support future skills development. You know this comes with the territory but now, the massive talent shortage and economic shifts are making this issue more acute than ever. Your word for 2023 needs to be agility. This means building the ability to move fast into everything you do, while at the same time ensuring that your employee training and development stays relevant. 

If you don’t have an agile approach in how you develop and deploy your programs or an agile digital learning platform, now is the time. Explore ways to create content and programs as quickly as the needs of the business change. Adopting agile development processes like SCRUM, SAM can make it easier to put learning into the flow of work and closer to the point of need. 

Identifying Skill Gaps

More and more, a big part of your role in L&D is identifying what skills employees will need to succeed (and help the company succeed) in the future. The reality is just trying to develop the skills employees need now is hard enough, not to mention what’s needed down the road. The best way to navigate this challenge is to align learning with business objectives. 

Instead of trying to predict skills and competencies needed a year or more in advance, try to look at what’s coming up in the business by quarter or even by month to adapt more quickly. Dedicating someone in your organization to consistently check in with business units and/or leadership is a good way to keep your fingers on the pulse of what’s important. 

Along with this alignment, moving away from creating long-form eLearning content to developing more microlearning content will make it easier to create, update, and distribute the employee training and development that’s needed to meet those objectives. From there, it becomes a continuous cycle of iterating rather than predicting. 

Measuring Learning Effectiveness

Another big challenge is measurement. Again, alignment with business objectives is the key here. BHG has found that L&D organizations that align business and learner objectives are four times more likely to say their strategy is effective in achieving business outcomes.

Once you’ve set up alignment with business objectives, you’ll have a better idea of what’s most important to measure. A few ideas on metrics to include are: increased sales, customer satisfaction rates, or engagement with new corporate initiatives. Be sure to regularly re-evaluate your KPIs to make sure that they still reflect your changing goals and needs as a company. The metrics that work for you now may not be necessary in a year or two, so keep your strategy dynamic as your goals evolve.

Lack of Learning Technology Ecosystem

The pandemic may have accelerated the digital transformation of operations and many analog processes out of necessity, you might be dealing with learning technology that hasn’t kept up with this transformation, or you might have a digital learning platform that you’re not using to its fullest. Either way, since this digital transformation requires new skills and capabilities, your team has to be part of it to not lag behind. 

If employee training and development is hard to access or is based on older technology, it’s going to be that much harder to get employees to use it. A centralized single-source of training and knowledge that’s easily searchable and accessible on any device is the best way to navigate this challenge. And because you’re short on resources and budget, it’s important to ensure that you can leverage existing LMS investments in this single source of truth. 

As you navigate the challenges you’ll face this year, two big themes you’ll likely want to embrace for success are staying as agile as possible and keeping close alignment with business objectives.