9 trends in learning and development (2023)

By Future Talent Learning

People success is increasingly seen as driving business success. Get tips from industry experts on the learning and development trends you need to understand. 


As organisations navigate the fallout from the Great Resignation and manage hybrid and flexible working models and political and economic instability, they need to be agile to survive and thrive. 


HR is increasingly looking to L&D leaders to ensure employees have the capabilities, behaviours and mindsets needed to future-proof themselves and their organisations. 


C-suite is also turning to L&D functions to provide solutions to people challenges. According to the 2023 Workplace Learning Report, the percentage of L&D leaders working more closely with the C-suite has grown this year from 43% in 2022 to 50% in 2023. Influencing other senior stakeholders by translating modern workplace trends into people actions, building multi-functional teams that impact the 'business bottom line' and developing leadership mindsets for the new economy are all priorities for those leading learning functions. 


So, what are the latest trends in L&D and how should L&D professionals respond to these? 


Key trends in learning and development 

  1. Failure to reskill will result in a social crisis. Governments and leaders are faced with the challenge of transforming the skills people need for the workplace. The fourth industrial revolution is already upon us and there is an urgent need for businesses to upskill their people to meet future challenges so that everyone within our society can benefit from these. L&D professionals are working at the intersection of profit and purpose - they have an opportunity to positively impact their business and wider society. 

  2. Boards recognise that creating an agile culture and attractive EVP is no longer a 'nice to have'. Boards are increasingly focusing on developing a culture that retains their top talent. Younger people, in particular, are looking for interesting experiences within the workplace - opportunities for growth and development are highly prized. It's important to create programmes that respond to employees’ desire for growth and the board’s concerns about culture. 

  3. The playbook for L&D has gone. Post-pandemic L&D professionals are playing by a new set of rules. The definition of success has changed - it’s no longer about promotions and pay rises. Employees want experiences and opportunities to develop and grow; they are increasingly looking for sideways moves. As Socrates says “To know, is to know that you know nothing. That is the true meaning of knowledge”. L&D professionals should remember that it’s OK to not have all the answers but should take the opportunity to upskill themselves. 

  4. Market L&D. Don’t just deliver fantastic learning and development programmes. Tell other team members about your work in a language they will understand. Explain impact - how L&D programmea are changing lives and business landscapes. 

  5. Businesses are shifting from talent acquisition to talent retention. They recognise that it is more efficient to upskill existing staff than to recruit new staff. Talent managers, and other HR professionals, look to L&D to support internal mobility. This is an opportunity for L&D professionals to show the function’s impact. 

  6. The era of ‘talk and chalk’ learning is dead. During the pandemic, many learning programmes went virtual - with huge cost savings. Now there is an opportunity to bring people back face to face, it’s not acceptable to sit them in a room and make them watch a PowerPoint presentation. This doesn’t represent a good learning experience for employees, value for money for businesses or kudos amongst L&S’s peers in HR. Redesign learning programmes and create memorable experiences and viral content.


    Embed learning into processes people already do and tools people already use. Don't make it a bolt-on activity, but deliver this in the flow of work. 

  7. Remember the link between learning and wellbeing. As employees struggle with their wellbeing post-pandemic, interventions that support physical and mental wellness are vital. Learning is wellbeing by stealth. Learning new skills is one of the NHS’s 5 steps to mental wellbeing. Research shows that learning new skills can also improve mental wellbeing by boosting self-confidence and raising self-esteem, helping build a sense of purpose and facilitating connections.

  8. The psychological contract has changed. Employees are less interested in extrinsic motivators like salary and bonuses and are more interested in intrinsic ones like growth, autonomy and purpose when it comes to employee engagement. Use this knowledge when interacting with employees. 

  9. Learning learning professionals also need to upskill. All successful learning leaders have one thing in common: they make time for personal development. They know that continuous upskilling improves their knowledge, widens their influence, and deepens their credibility. But they also know that, to truly flourish as leaders, they need advice from their peers – others who can share experiences. Join the Learning Leader Programme and you’ll work with dynamic CLO’s from global organisations, pioneering thinkers, and tuned-in academics to build deep expertise and confidence as a learning leader and organisational catalyst.


Why learning is the future of work 

In the era of the Great Resignation, global chaos and uncertain economics, it can be easy for businesses to focus on short-term outputs: profits, margins and attrition. However, to thrive, organisations need to look long-term for growth, innovation and development.


We’ve spoken to academics and experts, industry professionals and heads of business, including Amy Edmondson (Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School), Andrew White, (Senior Fellow in Management Practice, Saïd Business School) and Margaret Heffernan (Entrepreneur, CEO and Author) on issues ranging from how successful organisations build learning cultures to the skills we’ll need in the future. 


We’ve distilled key takeaways to transform your business in our whitepaper 'Why learning is the future of work'. 


Developing thought leadership with the learning community   

Future Talent Learning held a thought leadership event for senior L&D professionals, in partnership with the Talent and Leadership Club and LPI. 


Ben Chambers (Founder of the Talent and Leadership Club and Head of Learning, Performance and Talent at Grant Thornton) set the scene followed by Elly Tomlins (Chief People Officer, Britvic), Tim Munden (Former Chief Learning Officer at Unilever) and Nick Shackleton-Jones (Industry Revolutionary) L&D trends. This piece was created with input from the panel and L&D professionals who attended the event. 




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