5 big insights about the future of work for L&D professionals

June 26, 2020
What is the future of work?
Shootsta UK & Europe recently hosted ‘Shootsta Presents: The Future of Work for Learning and Development (L&D) Professionals’, a chaired round-table workshop in the Netherlands with Bazz Deans, VP of UK & Europe, Jan Barthelemy, GM of Europe, and Nick de la Force, Creative Services Manager. The discussion explored topics like employee listening, and blended and adaptive learning – and what these mean for the future of work in L&D. Workshop attendees included training leaders from brands like ING, Salesforce, Heinz, Siemens and booking.com, and the event produced such valuable discussions and insights that we thought we’d share our top 5 big insights about the future of work for L&D. Read on!
Whether we’re marketers, whether we’re learning and development managers, whether we’re trainers – we’re in the business of imparting knowledge.We’re in the business of helping people understand something very simply.” Nick de la Force, Creative Services Manager, Shootsta

L&D Teams are doing it tough

One of the things you may not know about Shootsta is we have a pretty big network of internal video clients and contacts e.g. teams using video for L&D / training content and communications. Between these and industry professionals we speak to at business events, here are some of the trends we’ve observed that help give us a snapshot of the global state of L&D (and that opened the workshop):
  • L&D teams are often 1-2 person departments, including for large organisations e.g. a Manager and an Intern.
  • KPIs for these small teams can be beyond capabilities, to the point where objectives are unrealistic or even unachievable.
  • As a result, L&D professionals are often forced to compromise on training materials, and in turn quality (e.g. depth of information, excellence of content), which can negatively impact employee engagement.
    • This includes for compliance / mandatory training.
The catch-22: as employees disengage with lackluster content, L&D budgets may drop as decision-makers can no longer justify spend based on return on investment.

Training effectiveness is at risk

The insights above are backed by recent data from organisations like the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) – and highlight a few worrying trends for L&D, and organisations in general:
One of the big issues with statistics like these? Businesses are becoming more and more reliant on millennial and Gen Z workforces, and growth opportunities are key to engaging – and keeping – these employees. With that in mind, there’s simply no excuse for not investing in people any longer – and risking the loss of top talent.
There seems to be a serial under-investment on the part of larger companies in employee learning and development.” Nick de la Force, Creative Services Manager, Shootsta

Blended learning isn’t without its challenges

Blended learning integrates traditional face-to-face delivery with e-learning content from learning management systems (LMS) or learning experience platforms (LXP) – for a seamless flow of learning from the classroom to online and back again. It’s often promoted as a more rounded, robust corporate L&D methodology. However, significant challenges were identified with blended learning, such as:
  • Stigmas around online learning, like it being perceived as unimportant (vs. classroom training), which in turn requires proper communication, employee empowerment and ownership .
  • In-person training facing cost-cutting, as travel, accommodation and meals can be deemed prohibitively expensive.
  • Classroom training also feeling too US-centric for European markets e.g. external ‘experts’ being wheeled in.
  • In a similar vein, virtual classrooms not working as successfully in Europe, when compared with regions like the US or Asia.
  • And finally, content needing adjustment for culture and nuances across markets and regions, costing time and money.
The upshot: while it’s clear that a mix of traditional and digital learning is required for modern companies, nailing that mix has been a hard task for L&D teams.

Adaptive learning offers the freedom to choose

On the topic of ‘adaptive learning’ – a more personal training model for catering to people’s individual learning needs – the question of technology and new delivery methods arose. For most, that simply meant digital, and providing scalability as employees become not only more global, but also increasingly remote, in terms of working in the field / from home / on the road etc. As a result, ensuring learning styles are supported with supplementary training materials (e.g. videos for visual and auditory learners, with transcripts for reading learners, and printouts for writing and kinesthetic learners) was identified as key, as was mobile learning, which was agreed as generally effective for achieving reach and engagement targets.   One major talking point for adaptive learning was the idea of ‘freedom within a framework’ i.e. providing structure, but the flexibility within that structure for employees to learn in a personalised way. This can involve things like customisable learning paths, allowing employees to pick and choose training modules as guided by the framework of their job function (or even development goals). The central concept is relevancy and giving people the tools to choose how and what they learn – and many seemed motivated to explore and experiment with this further.

The future of work is fluid

One of the biggest takeaways was just how different the future of work looks now, compared to its static (however digitised) past. Specifically, there is a huge focus on corporate learning in the future being:
  • As we saw in adaptive learning (and user experience trends, more generally), rebooting e-learning for a more personalised, dynamic learning experience is the next big question for L&D teams – often at the expense of traditional, quite linear thinking around the best way to educate corporate audiences.
  • A universal challenge was how best to empower (and encourage) employees to ‘own’ their professional development, and communicate that appropriately. A focus on bottom-up learning and ‘getting involved’, versus a top-down, mandated approach appeared most successful.
On demand / in the moment
  • Now more than ever, there is a need for learning to be agile, with the ability to bend according to employee needs – both future-focused, and when required at work.
  • However, the definition of ‘on demand’, and what that looks like for individual organisations and teams, can differ e.g. topic introductions vs. step-by-step how-to content like videos.
Mobile-friendly Gamified
  • Gamifying learning to make the process more engaging through tactics like achievements/reputations and perks/rewards (not monetary) was also highlighted as beneficial, helping to create company champions with internal status through titles, badges etc.
And focused on human analytics
  • Not only leveraging all available data, but also looking to future metrics as e-learning advances were high on people’s priority lists, in order to use analytics to effectively measure ROI, productivity and employee satisfaction with learning programs.

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