Learning and Development

L&D Challenges in 2021

l&d challenges in 2021

The article is prepared by Alessa Avery.

Last year may have seemed to drag on forever, and there was no shortage of challenges to deal with. But this year doesn’t mean the quest for finding short and long-term solutions to organizational problems is over. This is especially true for learning and development.

L&D is crucial amidst the current health crisis. The workforce needs to be re-engaged and re-energized to protect organizations and individuals from health and economic dangers. This is also important in ensuring constant growth despite the pandemic. HR Daily Advisor’s report on L&D statistics reveals that 87% of millennial employees want professional development and career growth. They see them as vital to their work engagement levels. Moreover, organizations with highly engaged employees perform better by as much as 202% than others.

Now that 2020 has passed, here’s a look at L&D challenges in 2021.

Virtual Learning


Virtual learning may not be particularly new, but it plays a crucial role in today’s pandemic. It has become the new norm for L&D. Training Journal’s feature on virtual L&D points out how it’s crucial to convey a message clearly within a limited amount of time. This is essential for programs to be effective. What used to take at least half a day for a workshop in a physical location must now last two hours at most in a virtual setting.

This adjustment may still be challenging at this point. But despite the technological challenges, trainees have more control over what they learn. They can choose specific content that best matches their needs, or study the entire set of learning materials from start to end. Learners can also study at their own pace and schedule, or they can choose to participate in live online sessions. Having the flexibility to study relevant and interesting content in the way they prefer is a good method for “learning that sticks.” The pandemic has indeed paved the way for what corporate learning leader Josh Bersin calls “learning in the flow of work.” Employees now have the opportunity to integrate learning moments into daily tasks.

This year, virtual learning will have firmer ground. More managers and employees will adjust better and eventually embrace it. Webinars in place of seminars will not feel out of the ordinary. And remote employees will have access to more digital content anywhere, anytime.

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Data Visualization


Companies collect, store, and analyze huge amounts of data. And employees who are non-desk workers must make sense of this information. However, Verizon Connect’s article on big data highlights how a lot of important content gets lost in this process if employees get overwhelmed with data. What can solve this issue in employee training is to present the data in a visually appealing manner. This year, a lot of gamification, VR, AR, and other data visualization techniques may solve problems with information retention and analysis. It’s easier for employees to apply what they learn directly to their work instead of trying to absorb all the training material. For instance, gamification creates a competitive atmosphere while learning. It increases interest and engagement among employees.

Upskilling Opportunities


The pandemic has given employees more time to spare in a remote setup. This can be an opportunity to learn new skills or relearn old ones this year. Many managers see this as an opportunity to tackle skills gaps in the workplace. Ed Smith’s previous L&D blog entry on upskilling underscores how important it is to ensure that employees’ skillsets won’t become obsolete. The company must show them it cares about their careers and their futures. Upskilling is not only about skills — it can also boost employee morale. It increases customer satisfaction from improved employee performance as well. Plus, it can attract new talent due to the employees’ stronger brand advocacy.

Work-Life Skills Focus


Traditionally, L&D has focused more on corporate and technical training. But other than upskilling, more employees are looking for holistic growth opportunities as well. The Balance Careers’ rundown of top life skills emphasizes how employers value communication, cooperation, and handling criticism highly. And so, more employees will also want to focus on improving those things.

Employers should welcome the increasing enthusiasm and deliver this year. They should have a mindset of happier employees equating to a much more pleasing bottom line.

Customer Education

Helping customers and clients become well-informed buyers can lead to them becoming more satisfied with a product or service, as they will know what to expect before purchasing. Customer education can be executed through learning management systems (LMS) or in-person communications. But the global health crisis has limited in-person learning opportunities in physical stores. This is why L&D professionals and business leaders must adapt their training resources. This way their employees will not only be continuously trained, but they will know how to better serve customers even though they aren’t physically visiting the stores. With last year’s massive boost in e-commerce, we can expect customer education to adapt in order to suit the needs of online shoppers.

The most important of L&D challenges in 2021 for any company. Create an employee development journey.

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