Year-End L&D Review: What Worked, What Didn't, And Key Lessons From 2022 As You Look Forward To 2023

Year-End L&D Review: What Worked, What Didn't, And Key Lessons From 2022 As You Look Forward To 2023
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Summary: Businesses, learners, and L&D teams saw a few things that worked and a few that didn't in the previous year. This article outlines an L&D review of what worked and what didn't, and brings vital lessons learned from 2022 that they can focus on in 2023.

L&D Lessons From 2022

What Worked For Businesses According To The L&D Review In 2022?

To truly understand what worked, we must review the 2022 L&D landscape through three different lenses.

What Worked For L&D

Here's what we saw working for L&D.

We observed that learning solutions that worked really well are those that drew learners toward learning. Learners choose them not because they must but because they wanted to learn from those unique learning experiences presented to them. And L&D did a great job of making these solutions work by delivering learning solutions based on experiential and immersive learning.

Leaning more on hybrid learning approaches has definitely been helpful as well. Furthermore, using hybrid learning allowed the L&D professionals to personalize their learning solutions to meet the unique needs of their learners. Some ways that worked exceptionally well to personalize learning experiences and engage learners in the learning process included using simulations, role-plays, and case studies.

Another important area that helped L&D improve workplace dynamics and productivity was improving diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) in their L&D approaches. By incorporating these core values in learning solutions, organizations noticed a shift in culture and great success overall.

Lastly, leveraging L&D as a key talent retention driving force has worked well in 2022. L&D was better focused on the Return on Expectations (ROE) of key business stakeholders in achieving business goals via training and how ROE stacked up against what learners expected from training. They were also more conscious about the Return on Investment (ROI) proposition that senior management used to evaluate the profitability and efficiency of learning investments.

What Worked For Learners

Now let's look at what the L&D review says has worked for learners.

Learners benefited tremendously from a concerted effort of integrated learning interventions and an array of learning approaches across multiple levels, including access to learning solutions in their moment of need and microlearning-based learning in the flow of work (LIFOW).

Learners have also found value in the availability of learning as a continuum of their workday through a stream of continuous learning opportunities.

Another asset for learners has been having helpful Performance Support Tools (PSTs) and job aids at their disposal to improve on-the-job performance, as well as the use of a diverse array of social learning elements that catered to what learners preferred.

Finally, well-defined learning paths, learning journeys, and extended journeys based on specially curated learning content for specific training types have proven to be extremely beneficial, too.

What Worked For Businesses

Now that we know what worked well for L&Ds and learners, let's look at what the L&D review says worked well for businesses.

Learning can only benefit businesses if businesses also benefit from learning outcomes. There has been a tremendous effort L&D injected into mapping learning initiatives to business goals and outcomes. The effort L&D expended, in collaboration with their organizational peers/business leadership, to understand the importance of measuring training impact on the broader organization (not just a single department or team) has been proven extremely beneficial.

Ultimately, there has been a realization by the business that employee engagement is critical to achieving business goals and driving forward the business's strategic objectives. And there was a heightened understanding at all levels of the need for employee engagement as a key driver of organizational strategy and goals.

What Didn't Work For Businesses According To The L&D Review In 2022?

As discussed above, there were significant accomplishments in the L&D space in 2022, with businesses, learners, and L&D benefiting from what transpired. However, we did see some aspects lacking on three major fronts, including:

Lack Of Human-Centricity

A lack of human-centricity in the overall L&D approach was largely driven by:

  • The challenges that L&D faced in fanning employee motivation to learn.
  • L&D's lack of understanding of what learners needed and their inability to align those learning needs to employee goals and personal aspirations.
  • A lack of strong learning cultures across organizations, which are typically underpinned by broad supportive culture. L&D and managers were unable to properly communicate the existence and importance of learning opportunities to employees. Employees can also become better at learning when they have access to mentoring and coaching opportunities and benefit from constructive and actionable feedback on the learning process.
  • While some organizations have the desire to make the most of their L&D investments, neither L&D nor business leaders showed a general ability to leverage those investments. They were neither willing to make investments in developing new learning ecosystems nor were they able to leverage existing ones.
  • Learning platforms are a gold mine of learning analytics data that can help drive learning focus within a business. It can also provide invaluable insight into future employee learning preferences across the organization. However, there was an inability to use that data to further the L&D objectives of the organization.

Technology-Related Learning Challenges

Learners today want to take charge of their learning. We saw self-directed learning stymied due to:

  • Learning content based on outdated formats that lacked inspirational qualities. A lot of that content didn't even align with stated learner preferences.
  • Lack of cutting-edge learning technology meant that learning portals weren't optimizing learning in the flow of work to help learners find the right content in their time and place of need.

Learning technology challenges were exacerbated as a result of unprecedented volatility in the LMS/LXP service sector. New entrants into the market and a plethora of in-house solutions made it that much more challenging to make the right technology and platform decisions based on the unique learning needs of both employees and the organization as a whole.

Lack Of Willingness To Experiment And Innovate

The onset of a paradigm shift in workplace dynamics requires L&D to boldly embrace a culture of innovation and experimentation. What's lacking is the willingness to adopt agile methodologies, the fail-fast approach, and a commitment to frequently assess what works and what doesn't. Overall, we saw organizations make commitments to innovative L&D approaches, but without much follow-through.

What Are the Key Lessons For Learners, Businesses, And L&D Teams From 2022?

As organizations ramp up preparations for their 2023 L&D plans, based on an objective assessment of what worked and what didn't in 2022, here are some key lessons learned from the L&D review that learners, businesses, and L&D should ponder over.

There's an overwhelming need for learning programs to be humanized. What's needed is a human-centered approach to learning that'll drive better learner engagement within learning programs. L&D must design and develop learning programs with a lens of enhanced emotional intelligence, i.e., learning that understands learner needs and responds to them by delivering learner-centric content. A key lesson learned in humanized learning is that personalized, flexible, audience-focused content works best.

If the past year has taught us anything, it's that employees want greater control over their learning. Therefore, to offer that degree of autonomy in their learning, it is incumbent that L&D deploy appropriate self-directed learning (SDL) strategies.

New workplace paradigms have shown that simply creating learning opportunities won't cut it anymore! To make learning more effective, it's equally important to support learners with tools and strategies that aid in learning transference in the workplace.

The race to a digitized workplace must be supported by a corresponding shift in learning culture. Senior leadership, front-line management, and L&D must strive to support employees by delivering targeted learning opportunities. And it's also vital that the organization helps learners understand the value of those opportunities. Leadership can also champion and promote a strong learning culture by leveraging peer-to-peer training and social and collaborative learning. Finally, L&D must proactively create opportunities for mentoring, coaching, and two-way feedback loops so learners and leaders can assess what's working and what isn't.

Also identified was a need to rapidly upskill and reskill the workforce because of changing workplace dynamics, rapidly evolving economic conditions, and shifting competitive landscapes. These shifts necessitated corresponding changes to employee skillsets and competencies.

Employee onboarding experiences need a serious relook, as they were found seriously lacking. The rapidly changing business and workplace paradigm (mass resignations, high degree of mobility among workers, the need for newer skills and different talent sets) meant that newly hired employees needed to be integrated into the workforce quicker and more effectively.

One clear theme that emerged was the need to retain star performers. What was apparent was that these high-performing employees are more likely to remain with the organization if they have access to continuous learning opportunities. L&D can be a key differentiator not just to retain seasoned employees but to also attract new talent into the organization. 2022 brought out a clear understanding that L&D can be a major force in building and developing high-performance teams.

Learning technology will be a key enabler and driver for running effective L&D initiatives. Learning technology will underpin and enable highly effective and engaging L&D initiatives. As organizations gravitate toward mobile workplaces, learning on the go, and mobile-first learning—which delivers critically needed learning to employees wherever and whenever they wish to learn—will be the buzzwords of tomorrow. Employees are craving learning experiences that are highly immersive and experiential in nature. And they'll be looking for more learning and performance support in the form of PSTs on-demand and in the moment of need, as well as learning-in-the-flow-of-work support.

A craving for human-centric learning is on the rise. L&D must therefore strike a fine balance between learner-centric design as well as experiential learning and other learning technologies.

With talent retention high on tomorrow's agenda, it's incumbent that L&D continues to bridge the gulf between business goals and learner performance and the need to entice high-performing employees to stay. Strategies to accomplish these objectives include:

  • Greater use of data-driven approaches by L&D when it comes to decision making.
  • A clearer and more transparent linking of L&D objectives and the business outcomes that senior leadership is looking for.
  • A more objective review of how training is impacting learner performance and how it contributes to employee productivity and retention.
  • Efforts to create a high ROE for both the learners and the business. Embrace policies and strategies that not only deliver on business objectives but also on the needs and aspirations of learners. This is a win-win outcome that delivers the best ROE for all stakeholders.

Parting Thoughts

2022 saw a lot of things working for businesses, learners, and L&D, while some things didn't work as well. We hope this article provided the requisite insights on what worked and what didn't, and brought out some of the important lessons learned from 2022 that all three stakeholder groups can look forward to focusing on in 2023.

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EI is an emotionally intelligent learning experience design company that partners with customers in their Digital Transformation journey.