2022 L&D Trends

COVID-19, and the global pandemic, has definitely shaped L&D in the last few years, and the demands of the workplace are evolving. Here, PeopleUnboxed discuss what top L&D trends we are likely to see over the upcoming year:

1. Employee Wellbeing

Whilst there has been a raised focus on this from 2019, it’s no surprise that wellbeing remains at the forefront heading into 2022. The true lasting impact of COVID-19 on mental health across the globe is unquantifiable. It’s an unknown that will take years to realise. Last year, the UK saw an increase of 40% in employees suffering from work-related stress, depression, or anxiety. And the Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned that COVID-19 has created a ‘looming’ mental health crisis. One thing is for certain, the impact is significant, and it will continue for years to come.

More than ever organisations have a duty of care to support employee wellbeing. Just as we’d argue schools have a responsibility to educate our children on looking after their physical and mental wellbeing, workplaces have a responsibility to educate and support the working population. It’s not just a moral responsibility though, it’s an operational must. People’s personal and professional lives have become even more interwoven with the increase in home working, and positive work cultures recognise we are ‘one human’. Looking at how you can help your employees physical, financial and mental wellbeing not only ensures they stay well and are able to perform at work, but it contributes to engagement and their feeling of the psychological contract.

Talking of which, 2022 will take employee wellbeing to a new level – combining the 2021 hot topics of wellbeing and D&I, to concentrate on the holistic cultures we create in our workplaces.

Creating a psychological safe workplace isn’t something that happens overnight, companies need to work hard every day to ensure their culture reflects their values and is embedded throughout their organisation.

Diverse teams alone do not guarantee employees feel belonging and inclusion at work. For employees to feel engaged, empowered, accepted, and valued within their companies, leaders must go beyond surface gestures of diversity and build systems of inclusivity into how they lead. Equally, organisations must go beyond qualifying mental health first aiders, and build good wellbeing, resilience and positive life balance practices into their day-to-day culture.

Impacting culture like this, takes a comprehensive, multi-layered strategy; targeting organisational initiatives, grassroot training and raising awareness, along with targeted interventions for leaders around the behaviours required. It also takes time…and 2022 is the time. 

2. Coaching

We know coaching is a very effective way to increase performance. By offering people the opportunity to look at things from a new or different perspective, to challenge themselves and the beliefs and actions they hold and to be supported as they look for resourceful ways to solve problems, and essentially realise their true potential.

It’s not only good for the individual, it impacts the wider organisations too. People who learn to be coaches within organisations, learn a host of really important leadership skills such as listening, an ability to question and challenge without judgement, and of course, empathy. All the skills we want our future leaders to have. Plus, team coaching drives confident, collaborative, high performing teams, that lead with a growth mindset.

So, what’s new? Coaching is stepping up in its importance on the L&D agenda. Not least because it drives a high performing culture, but also because the L&D landscape is shifting towards more personalised learning interventions that are time efficient and targeted to the individual rather than geared up for the masses. Alongside digital learning interventions with their clever algorithms that tailor the learning as they go, coaching also plays an integral role in providing personalised learning – with the all-important human touch.

3. Hybrid training

The age of hybrid working is upon us. Whilst the last few years have been challenging for businesses in so many ways, some good has come out of it and will be carried forward. Many of us have learnt to adapt to working remotely, but the important thing is, we’ve learnt it can work! Even now, not all workplaces have returned to a physical office, with many, adopting a hybrid approach. For most of us, some element of working from home will continue; we’re well versed in the technology, and the experience of virtual meetings, virtual events or physical meetings with a laptop of ‘dial-in’s’, is all second nature to us now.

The world of L&D is no different. Over the last couple of years, the industry has adapted and ‘gone virtual’, whether that’s utilising learning technology, making virtual courses interactive and engaging, shrinking content to bite-sized chunks, or getting creative to connect remote teams with team building events.

We too have learnt that this works, and some of it should be carried forward. So, as we return to being able to get back face-to-face, just like our hybrid working models, training programmes will shift to a hybrid approach. It’s flexible, agile and lends itself perfectly to a blended approach.

We’re already seeing this play out with multi-channel programmes aimed at covering content via eLearning and Virtual Classroom, interspersed with face-to-face sessions that bring the cohort together and the learning to life. In other programmes, we’re taking the needs of individual learners into account and delivering to part face-to-face, part virtual audiences, and another example sees a programme with the option of choosing face-to-face or virtual.

And, why not? If we’ve learnt anything, it’s that anything is possible! It’s a win-win; it helps aid collaborative learning and allows for the organisation to be inclusive and accessible.

4. Reskilling/Upskilling Current Employees

When employees were furloughed in roles that became redundant during lockdowns, some employers engaged in reskilling and upskilling programmes, and saw huge successes from this. Even those who carried on working throughout, had to adapt and learn how to do their jobs more efficiently virtually, rather than face-to-face.

It’s hard to hide from the “Great Resignation” topic, but by giving your employees more opportunities to learn new talents, you’re supporting and showing them how you trust and value them, and this will help keep your turnover in check.

This approach also helps support innovation and collaboration in the workplace. It drives motivation and engagement. And the NHS identify ‘keep learning’ as being great for our mental health. So, keeping our brains active and stepping outside our comfort zone is good for us as well as good for business.

5. Customer Centric

In the last few months there had been an increase in face-to-face engagement with people heading back onto the high street and into hospitality and leisure venues. These organisations especially need to ensure their employees are fully focused on being customer centric at all touch points.

For our Highstreet brands, more than ever, there needs to be a push for brand loyalty to retain customers and ensure the ‘death of the high street’ does not come to fruition. We have become accustomed to digital and virtual services, so (and back to our point around upskilling) we need to readdress customer service skills with our teams to ensure the very best of the best is delivered.

But it’s not all about the Highstreet. Markets are more competitive than ever full stop, and consumers hold the upper hand. They will and do vote with their feet, literally or virtually! Organisations everywhere are upping their game around customer centricity, and not just about the service provided, but holistically; what do we stand for as an organisation, what are our values and how do we behave? The organisation’s employees understand the purpose, their purpose and are empowered to do things ‘the right way’ for their internal and their external customers.

If you would like to discuss your 2022 plans with one of the team at PeopleUnboxed, then we would love to support you, please get in touch

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