A Peek at 2017 Learning and Development

Christine Johnson, Cued Forward on

With many businesses well into their 2017 planning, it is important for business leaders to understand the current arena of learning and development and how it impacts their business’ bottom-line, morale, and culture.  Here are 4 key trends for organizational learning and development as we head into 2017.

Need for effective leadership training is at or near the top of the list

From our own clients and contacts, we hear that the number one employee development program businesses seek is quality and implementable leadership training.  The 2016 Deloitte Human Capital Trends Report highlighted this even further with 89% of executives rating the need to improve or expand organizational leadership as very important.

Companies support this data by their spending habits on leadership training.  Management and leadership programs continue to be the top areas where training dollars are spent.  While this dollars-spending on leadership training seems impressive, the results of many of these programs have been less than effective.  Leaders have been disappointed with the results seen in the workplace.  Participants are either not getting the type of training they need or the training is not being used or reinforced in the workplace.  In another study, 30% of millennials in leadership roles still do not feel prepared for their leadership role.

And as a tie-in to the next employee development trend for 2017 . . .

Increasing learning application in the workplace is key

In a survey by 24×7 Learning, only 12% of learners say that they apply the skills from training to their job.  Since employee development programs often touch two budgets – time and money, employers are now even more focused on improving employee retention and application of learning experiences.

Organizations understand that employee learning and development programs should not operate in a silo, but tie directly back to organizational goals and needs.  Communicating the “why” behind the need for training can be as important as the learning program itself.  Employees need to understand the business value alongside WIIFM.

If employees understand how their time investment will affect the organization’s direction as well their team and their individual roles, employees are more likely to actively participate in training and migrate what they learned into their daily skillset.

Additionally, with the average person’s attention span way less than one minute, organizations have found that short learning sessions are more impactful and easier to implement.  Using technology, employees can access these 5-10 minute sessions via their computer or mobile device when it is convenient for them.  The flexibility of this learning allows organizations the capability to provide just-in-time learning.

These methods combined with employers reinforcing training with touchpoints, assessments, and opportunities for participants to train others set up scenarios where learning will be more likely to stick.

Resources are abundant

While external training sources are still number one, the landscape of learning for employee development continues to evolve.  According to the Association of Talent Development, the average amount of money spent on employee training is near $1,300 per employee with employees receiving on average over 32 hours of training per year with more organizations using non-traditional learning methods to comprise learning hours.

Some quick bites about the abundance of learning resources:

  • Informal learning is seen as a legitimate and effective way for employees to learn. Employees do not necessarily need a certificate to receive “credit” for the training.
  • Organizations are harnessing the power of peer-to-peer learning. It’s amazing to see how many great learning facilitators are willing to participate with their peers when organizations ask them.
  • For many organizations, blended learning, a combination of online, mobile, traditional and informal learning programs, optimizes their employees’ learning experiences. However, finding the balance between the different options continues to be a challenge
  • Mentoring and coaching are becoming a larger part of employee development programs. When asked, more than 60% of millennials surveyed said they would like a mentor.
  • Organizations are understanding the importance of knowledge transfer – being able to capture knowledge and share it throughout the organization. There are many software programs available to help retain learning and tribal knowledge that employers are now starting to use.
  • Referrals are great: Marketing experts say that about 80% of training purchased by businesses are done because of a referral. If you don’t have a referral, other resources to find training are available. Examples include two recent Cued Forward blogs: finding affordable local learning options and preparing for an online learning experience.  Our Learning Provider Directory can also help find great learning experiences and training programs from smaller providers.

Employee learning and development as a retention tool

No matter the size of your organization, employee development and staying current on skillsets are key to retaining employees.  Seven in ten employees say that the learning and development programs offered (or not offered) in their organization influence their decision to stay with a company.

Employee development programs were once seen as only being available in large organizations.  Now, employee development programs are important to all sizes of organizations.  With the availability of affordable learning options, shorter-session options, and mobile/online options coupled with harnessing the power of peer-to-peer learning, a short time investment on a needs assessment and planning and a small learning budget can go further than ever before in organizations.

In the last fifteen years, the world of organizational learning and development has be disrupted in a positive way.  It will be interesting to watch this changing component of a business continue to evolve and grow.

With our focus on small business, Cued Forward can help your organization understand your employee development needs.  We also provide a learning resources directory that gives you access to great learning providers that you may not otherwise know about.  We spend time talking with the providers and understanding their program(s) before they are listed in the directory.

Image credit: Pixabay

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