Learning & Development Trends - 2019

In the last decade, businesses have struggled to ride the wave of information and technology, with most of them finding ways to cope rather than leverage the innovation that hit the market

2019 brings us almost to the turn of a decade that was tumultuous in more ways than one. An economy that struggled to crawl after the tsunami of recession washed out businesses, jobs and disposable income. A market that saw the unabashed use of technology that thinned lines between the virtual and real world.  Political shifts that shook things up around the world. What has this meant in the context of organizational and people development?

In the last decade, businesses have struggled to ride the wave of information and technology, with most of them finding ways to cope rather than leverage the innovation that hit the market. With knowledge bases becoming obsolete and the appalling skill gap in the industry, learning has taken the centre stage for most future focussed companies. 

2019 is going to be a year that witnesses an overhaul of learning & development across the board – innovation and creativity in L&D will no longer be limited to large organizations, it’s time that smaller companies jump on the wagon and put sustainable and effective bets on enhancing the capabilities of their people. 

These are some of the trends that will shape the Learning & Development space in 2019:

Ease and Accessibility

One of the biggest trends of 2018 continues well into 2019 and possibly in subsequent years too. Learning has slowly morphed from an inflexible, one-way format to an easy-to-digest, interactive exercise that attracts the end user time and again. This year is going to see it become even more accessible and simple to consume than ever. Using tools of virtual reality, automation and simulation, companies will seek innovative ways to empower and engage their workforce. 

Out of the Box becomes the norm

Organizations today are faced with the peculiar challenges that come with a multi-generational workforce.  A unique mix of baby boomers and millennials make differentiated strategies the need of the hour since both the talent pools have such distinct needs and tendencies. Millennials in fact, have forced HR leaders to re-look their L&D strategies and make them customized to their consumption patterns. Out-of-the-box thinking is going to be the norm needed in 2019 to curate learning according to the needs and tendencies of each generation.

Small bites keep it attractive! 

We live the world of short attention spans and distracted minds. That’s where the relevance of bite-sized learning comes in. Standing in a queue? Learn sales through simulation on your mobile. Travelling somewhere far? Listen to a short podcast on communication skills. These short bursts of relevant information have been shown to work much better than a tediously long manual that seems like a chore to disengaged learners.

Learning as a way to engage

Learning becomes effective only when it’s engaging. And when it becomes engaging, it also gives employers a solid tool for sustainment and retention. Over the years, learning has taken the avatar as an essential component of the employee experience and talent retention. This becomes especially relevant to a generation that demands to be consistently stimulated and updated with information. 2019 will witness HR managers and professionals use L&D in better and cleverer ways to engage the workforce.

Curated learning paths with the help of AI

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning have been the buzzwords for some time now. But companies were not really sure about where these developments fit in the organizational framework.  As AI becomes more accessible and cost-effective, businesses will soon start integrating it in their L&D framework to curate learning experiences. This is likely to lead to organizations providing not just blended learning but blended experiences that lead to optimal results. 

Mobile is the way to go!

Smartphones have by far been one of the biggest triggers of a change in the last decade. As their penetration across social strata becomes deeper, it will further cement their position as the primary touch point for every marketing, sales or development initiative. If not already in line, 2019 will force organizations, big and small, to align their learning initiatives with this trend. Whether it’s apps or games, organizations will have to integrate mobile as the primal focus of learning & development.

Learning as a way to a better organizational culture

Learning and development is an extremely effective way to percolate the intended culture in the organization. An organization that invests in learning reflects as a place that not just nurtures it’s workforce but is also invested in their well-being. An engaged and learning-oriented workforce is a happy workforce. 2019 will be the year when even smaller organizations adopt learning as a part of their culture instead of making it an event-based need. Systemic learning will help create a positive workplace culture for all kinds of organizations; big or small.

2019 will further see L&D integrate into the mainstream of the people management and overall strategy too. This will force the L&D team to innovate, invest more time and energy to upskill themselves and be prepared for the bigger role that L&D will play in the organization. On the employee side, we will see individuals own up better to their learning journey and evolve not just their career but also their personal lives in the bargain.

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