L&D Digest

Crucial takeaways from the past year, predictions for 2021 and current news

L&D Digest for December 2020

L&D Digest is your monthly rundown of the most important L&D news from European and global Learning and Development sources.

The time is such that calls for summaries, takeaways from the past year and predictions for the next. To help you navigate through the sea of this content, in L&D Digest for December 2020 we selected the most interesting pieces and summarized them here. If you feel already satiated with yearly summaries (we understand), scroll down to find out about December novelties, such as 3 adult learning theories every learning content designer must know and why Amazon will retrain 29 million of (not their own) workers.

What trends in L&D budgeting do learning expenditures reveal in 2019 

ATD released 2020 State of the Industry, which gave interesting insights about L&D budgeting and time companies spend on training in 2019. To get the findings, ATD’s researchers analyzed self-reported data from 283 organizations from a range of industries, company sizes, and locations. Here is what we know:

  •  $1,308 per employee was a direct learning expenditure. It’s less than 1% more than in 2018.
  • the direct learning expenditure went into three categories: internal services, learning suppliers, and tuition reimbursement. 
  • organizations directed 66% of direct learning expenditure toward internal services, while 24% went to learning suppliers, and 10% went to tuition reimbursement.
  • formal learning time took 34.7 hours per employee. It was 34 hours in 2018

Compared to previous years, more hours are being delivered by technology, especially e-learning and virtual live classrooms. Another ATD’s E-learning: The Evolving Landscape report, points out all organizations today use e-learning.

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7 things we learned about the workplace in 2020 – sparking engagement

Gallup published what 2020 taught us about the workplace. The insights from their research are the following:

1. Remote workers can have higher engagement than in-office workers — provided they receive frequent feedback from their manager.

According to the Institute’s pre-COVID-19 findings, employees who work mostly remotely and receive feedback a few times a week are the most engaged.

2. Employee engagement is an even stronger predictor of performance during tough economic times

In 2020, Gallup tracked 190 organizational employee engagement surveys from April through July across more than 300,000 employees in 18 industries. Each organization’s survey results in 2020 were compared with similar organizations’ employee engagement as measured before the pandemic in 2019. The median survey response rate during COVID-19 was 86%, as compared to a median response rate of 85% pre-COVID-19.

3. Management has a stronger influence on burnout than hours worked.

Since the pandemic, many employees have seen a rise in burnout risk. But Gallup research reveals that it’s not just about working long hours. When employees are inspired, motivated, and supported in their work, they naturally do more work — and that work is significantly less stressful.

4. Most performance management systems are too slow and rigid to handle an uncertain, ever-changing marketplace.

Prior to COVID-19, traditional performance management was plagued with infrequent, irregular feedback and goal setting that became irrelevant before the next annual review came around. The pandemic ended up exposing the flaws in this system.

5. Although leaders may fear being micromanagers, most employees receive far too little feedback — and even those who receive negative feedback would prefer to get more.

47% percent of employees report receiving feedback from their manager “a few times a year” or less. And 19% say they receive feedback once a year or less! Employees who experience “fly-in and fly-out” managers often stress out because they don’t have clear expectations or support.

6. If your employees don’t know what makes your brand unique, your customers won’t either.

7. Workplace burnout is reduced to near zero among engaged employees with high wellbeing who also work in a culture that honors individual strengths.

If leaders have learned anything in 2020, it is that employee wellbeing is an essential factor in business survival. Gallup has found that employee wellbeing and engagement are highly influencing each other and additive boosting each other. When employers support wellbeing, they support their employees’ engagement, performance, and productivity as well.

2020: the year of complications, challenges and opportunities

In this way Adrián González, editor-in-chief of the Spanish portal RR.HH summarized 2020 for the world of work. The order is not random. The complication being quarantine and the imposing questions. Then there were challenges. And these were big ones. Only in Spain the percentage of people working remotely rose from 4 to 34%. According to the author, paradoxically, remote work taught us a better work-life balance and disclosed the bigger importance of the human factor at work. 

Yet this difficult and complicated year brought unusual opportunities. One of them being personal and professional development to which the pandemic opened the doors widely.

The role of L&D in 2021 continues to broaden

As L&D experts from the TrainingIndustry point out, the main challenge for next year is to provide employees with the skills needed to meet the ever-changing needs of their companies. For some organizations this may mean assessing which activities will be performed remotely and permanently. And here, training will play a key role in managing change. One of the most important elements of change management is the ability to properly manage people and adapt their skills to rapidly changing working conditions.

This process, performed in a way that helps organizations to adapt, work and succeed in the face of serious business disruption. One of the most important elements of change management is the ability to manage people in a rapidly changing organization and provide them with the skills necessary to adapt to new working conditions. L&D will also make its mark in the changing trade industry. Industry professionals must work with business leaders to continuously evaluate their company’s purchasing processes. This, in turn, will create training resources that will help meet the needs of customers in their needs.

The role of soft skills and competences of the staff is also a constant trend. L&D should also help employees in the changing nature of their current work. The key to this is to provide employees with easy access to the proposed training courses, as well as the possibility to personalize them in the context of their needs. Moreover, the measurability of their effects will be of great importance in training aspects – not only in the context of remote work.

3 adult learning theories you need to know

According to Association for Talent Development, adult learning theories help plan e-learning on all stages so that it facilitates the learning process.

Here is the summary of theories the portal mentions:

1. Andragogy

How do adults differ from children in their learning style? 

  1. Adults need to know “why” they should learn. 
  2. They will learn if they want to learn and get motivated by benefits it can bring them. (or the famous what’s in it for me)
  3. For adults, the willingness or readiness to learn comes from the relevance of the knowledge. 
  4. Adults learn through the filter of their many experiences. As an instructional designer, you should tap into their experiences to help them make connections, perceive relevance, and derive inspiration. 
  5. Grown-ups are self-directed individuals who want to take charge of the learning journey.
  6. Adults learn best when they “do.” They find relevance in task-oriented learning, which they can align with their workplace realities.

2. Transformational Learning

It’s all about the aha moments. Flashes of inspiration that make us see reality in new ways. 

This is how ATD describes them:

“These are transformative experiences that shift our consciousness. As an instructional designer, you should strive to create such learning experiences. Such experiences rouse the mind, stir powerful emotions, and leave lasting impressions. Many such events trigger radical changes in thoughts, perspectives, attitudes, and behavioral patterns—the ‘transformations.’”

In the Transformational learning theory there are three stages of learning:

  • Identification of a Dilemma or a Crisis: The realization that we had all along been holding on to wrong beliefs or that we don’t know what we should know is often a trigger to dig in. You have to point out to your learners what they don’t know to make them curious about your course.
  • Establishment of Personal Relevance: This is the answer to the “what’s-in-it-for-me”. Adult learners are motivated to learn when they can envision the results of their efforts.
  • Critical Thinking: Learners are sensible, rational people with minds of their own. So you should create opportunities for critical reflection (premise reflection) to encourage them to re-examine their beliefs and attitudes. 

3. Experiential Learning: Tying Reality to Create Meaning 

The Experiential Learning Theory states that the essence of adult learning is making sense of experiences. Adults learn best by doing.

The cyclical nature of experiential learning by explaining how it takes place in four stages: 

  1. Concrete Experience (CE): Kinesthetic learning or learning by encouraging physical actions (simulations) and learning that evokes strong emotional responses (realistic scenarios that reveal cause-effect relationships) create powerful experiences that are not forgotten easily.
  2. Reflective Observation (RO): It is critical to not only create opportunities for experience-based learning but also provide time and space to encourage reflection. Create opportunities for “watching” the action unfold before the eyes (demonstrations) and “analyzing” processes and procedures (scenario-driven activities, case studies).
  3. Abstract Conceptualization (AC): The success of experiential learning lies in the learner being able to decode abstract concepts from their reflections, generalize these ideas, and realize the relevance to their reality. Designs assessments to encourage learners to exercise their “critical thinking” abilities, so they can formulate concepts and procedures.
  4. Active Experimentation (AE): Role-playing activities, internships, and other hands-on tasks let learners apply the learning and thus truly “learn by doing.” 

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Amazon to provide free skills training to 29 million people worldwide 

The news went viral at the beginning of the month, but it is worth giving it a recap. On December 10th, the tech and ecommerce giant announced it is committing to reskilling 29 million people by 2025 to work in cloud computing. The company had already announced they are investing $700 million to provide this training to their workers. Amazon’s idea, according to the Wall Street Journal is to: “equip people with the education needed to work in cloud computing at a number of employers seeking to fill high-tech positions. While some participants might find jobs at Amazon, it is more likely they would get hired at other companies, including many that use Amazon Web Services, the online retailer’s cloud division.”


Will you or do you use learnining theories in content design? What do you think 2021 will look like in L&D? Do you have feedback for L&D Digest for December 2020 or suggestions for the next L&D Digest? Drop us an email!

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