4 Future Predictions for Learning & Development

Emma Weber

Our recent learning transfer research surveyed 270 respondents primarily from the UK, US and Australia to understand what’s happening on a global level, right now, with this important and often neglected issue. This is the first research of it’s kind in recent years to consider learning transfer on a global scale. The research led us to conclude 4 future predictions for Learning & Development.

Learning transfer is a decades old problem. Businesses globally have grappled to understand how best to increase the performance of their workforce in order to improve productivity, efficiency and engagement. We have moved from “training” as it was once called, to learning & development as it is now, and as an industry we have become very good at delivering content to the right person, at the right time, in a multitude of ways. But the problem of learning transfer still exists. It is widely recognised that only around 10%-20% of any new skills and behaviours are applied back in the workplace. Therefore most training is not having the required impact or adding the value expected by executives.

This research aimed to take a snapshot of where organisations feel they are in their own journey with learning transfer. Download the full research report Insights For Impact here, or read on for our future predictions for learning based on the research.

  1. Personalisation

A 2017 Bersin report suggests that the number one growth area in the future for L&D will be the topic of personalisation. The authors predict that this growing requirement to personalise the learning experience for learners will move to include the learning transfer journey. It will be crucial to consider how you can help learners to apply what they have learnt with a personalised solution that supports them in the context of them as an individual and their workplace environment.

  1. Learning Approaches

Focusing on more blended and hybrid approaches to learning will also gain momentum. As spaced learning becomes more and more popular, the ability to use various types of learning interactions will become increasingly important. Hopefully this move will enable visibility of how you are tracking not only with inputs but also the creation of outcomes, as traditional LMS type softwares are not sophisticated enough to carry this out.

  1. Emergence of the “Line Coach”

The 2016 Towards Maturity Benchmark highlighted that 72% of CEO’s are concerned about their staff having the key skills required to carry the business forwards over the next three years. With the lack of line manager engagement within learning & development, the skills gaps will only increase and become more of an issue. It’s down to L&D professionals to take this opportunity to drive the agenda and push the C-Suite for continued support. Up-skilling all levels of leaders to be able to successfully coach their team members in a variety of ways is also going to be key in the future. Line management hasn’t undergone any major changes, just evolutionary ones for a number of decades, but the introduction of the “line coach” rather than the “line manager” could be a dramatic shift that impacts learning significantly.

  1. Performance Outcomes

The C-Suite will expect more measured impact from L&D investment moving forwards. With the introduction of new technologies and the ability to use analytics, you can focus on the learning outcomes more than ever before. When you further evidence the benefits of learning transfer initiatives and create a more concrete business case, more budget should be allocated to the follow up of learning. The elements of learning transfer will also start to be programmed in as a standard part of instructional design. Learners will be educated that they are going to start a journey rather than just a series of interventions. Creating an informal/social contract between the learner and the business who are investing in their development will also be critical to the continuing success of corporate learning programmes.

This research began a much needed conversation around learning transfer practices in the workplace. The culture of learning, coaching, and training continue to be as important as ever for organisations. It is very apparent from this research that the culture of coaching in leadership can have a significant impact on learning effectiveness. There is a diverse playing field out there in terms of what learning transfer options are available to you depending on your organisational culture and maturity, and the strategic importance of your learning initiatives. Assess your organisational maturity by reflecting on the extent to which coaching is utilised in your organisation, and what you can do to support learning transfer based on that.

We would be happy to talk to you about how you can embrace these elements to create effective transfer of learning.

Check out the full Learning Transfer Research: Insights for Impact report HERE

Emma Weber

Emma Weber is a recognized authority on the transfer of learning. As CEO of Lever – Transfer of Learning, she has helped companies such as Telstra, Oracle and BMW deliver and measure tangible business results from learning. Emma has also been a guest speaker at learning effectiveness conferences worldwide and authored the hugely successful book Turning Learning into Action. Much more detail around the issues and solutions examined in this article are available in the book – please feel free to download a free chapter.