3 things that L&D professionals want to avoid in 2023

With economic pressures due to grow in the year ahead, the spotlight is on spend. How you use your resources is more important than ever. Simply meeting training demand isn’t enough. L&D needs to deliver impact. But this isn’t always happening. In fact, 57% of L&D professionals don’t feel they’re achieving the impact their business needs. So, what’s getting in the way? We spoke to L&D leaders and elearning industry experts to find out. Here are their 3 digital learning pitfalls to avoid if you want to maximize your impact in 2023.

L&D professionals

Overview of challenges facing L&D this year

After years of dramatic transformation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, more challenges are on the way. Increased economic pressure is prompting businesses to rethink and reforecast. While learning needs and demand for training is still growing, budgets are not. 

When every penny counts, it’s more important than ever that L&D demonstrate their value. But with around two thirds of teams not achieving their desired impact, it’s clear that this isn’t always easy. So, what are L&D’s biggest barriers to success?

3 things that L&D professionals want to avoid in 2023

We surveyed 130 L&D professionals and leaders to get their insights into the biggest blockers to delivering real impact in the year ahead. Here are the 3 things that they want to avoid in 2023.

  1. Time-consuming digital learning 

When asked what approaches to online learning are not working well in their organization, digital learning duration was consistently highlighted.

“Long, stand-alone elearning programs.”; “Very big learning pathways.”; “Complicated and elaborate designed modules that consume vast amounts of time to produce.”; “Long to develop, but outdated quickly.”

On one side, you have employees struggling to fit learning around their work. And, if they do manage to complete it, failing to unearth the key points amongst the reams of information. On the other side, there’s L&D getting bogged down producing and maintaining these long modules. It’s clear that text-heavy, overwhelming training courses are lose-lose.

  1. Content overload

Of course, it isn’t just the length of elearning that’s causing issues. A number of L&D managers saw the amount of content available as a big blocker to effective learning.

“Giant libraries of elearning.”; “Too many platforms.”; “The amount of information is just too much to process”; “Lots of reading”; “Documentation resources duplicated as video resources.” 

Access to everything and anything in huge learning libraries is leading to content overload amongst employees. It means people have to sift through lots of content, disregarding duplication and trying to identify the most relevant and up-to-date information. 

  1. Missing the learning that matters

With so much content out there, L&D teams are finding it harder to get employees engaged in learning. 

“We make too much content that’s launched and then forgotten or lost in the shuffle.”; “Free range learning isn’t working.”; “We have vast amounts of content which dilutes the offer and can make navigation hard. Where do you begin…?”

Creating more learning content to meet the business’ demand just adds to the noise. Cutting through this noise and engaging learners is critical to ensure all the effort of creating new learning programs isn’t wasted.

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5 things L&D teams should do to stay ahead in digital learning

So, how can you overcome these key L&D issues and maximize the impact of your learning? Here are the 5 things top L&D professionals and experts thought were critical to getting ahead in 2023.

  1. Embrace a flexible approach

No one learning approach is ever going to meet your business’ needs. So, it’s not surprising that 30% of L&D professionals said that being digitally agile and utilizing multiple learning methods was going to be critical to their success. It allows you to prioritize resources and pivot your approach based on the required business impact. 

“With the increase in the demand for creating content for different roles at a fast pace, we need to work in an agile manner by minimizing the number of projects/resources we create, eliminating unnecessary work and seeking to create one size for all whenever possible. This requires more reliance on the use of branching in digital content design.”
Lila Warren, Global Head of Retail Academy, Pret a Manger

  1. Look at the big picture

If employees are going to find the learning they need, a bit of L&D housekeeping is required. 20% of the L&D teams we spoke to wanted to create a clear pathway to expertise in 2023. This could involve reviewing your learning ecosystem, making sure duplicated and out-of-date content is removed and plugging any gaps.

“I hope to see a lot more simplification and consolidation in our learning tech ecosystems. Things have been too complex and difficult to navigate for a few years. We’re seeing a shift toward simplification, and I expect that trend to continue in 2023. That means putting a lot more digital learning in the process and systems that are already part of employees’ daily work.”
Heather Gilmartin Adams, Senior Analyst, RedThread Research

  1. Test things out

The new year sees more L&D teams getting agile. 11% of the people we surveyed mentioned making use of experimentation and trials. Create learning resources quickly and share them with a small pilot group so you can gather feedback and make changes before progressing. This will reduce unnecessary and ineffective work and maximize your impact. 

“Learning teams need to take their cues from the software development world and move away from static, inflexible processes like ADDIE and look to delivering projects in more flexible, agile ways. Something as simple as moving to cloud authoring for content means that multiple authors can collaborate in real time, responding to changing business and learner needs.”
Brandon Hall Group

  1. Work with new tech

14% of L&D professionals are looking into how new tech can help them. However, they all highlight that the tech was not the answer in itself. Whether it’s AI brainstorming or machine translation, these tools need to be used at the right time, in the right way. They should support L&D activity rather than replace it.

“We need AI systems to be extremely compatible with human expertise. At this stage, AI is extremely valuable in stable environments and humans are extremely valuable navigating ambiguity. To maximize the impact of both human and digital systems, we need to make humans smarter, and not just replace humans with smarter machines. Business needs to invest in both smart technology and smart humans to ensure their competitiveness.”
Brandon Carson, Vice President, Learning and Leadership Partner, Walmart

  1. Become a center of excellence

L&D has always worn many hats, but their collection is set to expand in 2023. The need to move from working in silos to holistic collaboration in order to meet training demand creates a real step change. L&D needs to develop new capabilities if they’re going to remain a trusted advisor to their organization. That’s why 1 in 4 L&D teams are focusing on their own development.

“Stop throwing tech at the problem and really start to understand the root cause of some of our challenges in L&D. We have a tendency to replace old tech with new tech in the hopes that it’ll enliven our learning experiences, without fully understanding if the tech is even the problem. With shrinking budgets looming, I think L&D would be well placed to invest some time in the learning function itself, through some of our own learning and development. Let’s change before we have to, eh!’’
Ashley Sinclair, Managing Director, MAAS Marketing

In summary

As economic pressure increases, businesses are focusing on spend. L&D teams don’t just need to use their resources wisely. They need to deliver impact and demonstrate their value. But many of the professionals we surveyed don’t feel they’re achieving this. They highlighted 3 key barriers to their success: time-consuming learning, content overload and low engagement

But don’t worry, you can banish these issues to the past by embracing 5 key strategies for maximizing your impact in 2023:

  • Get digitally agile and use a range of learning methods to better meet the needs of your learners and business.
  • Create a clearer pathway to expertise through your learning ecosystem.
  • Deliver projects in more flexible ways by embracing experimentation.
  • Explore how new tech can support L&D activity, rather than replace it.
  • Focus on the learning and development of L&D so you’re ready for the challenges of the year ahead.

Want to find out more? Pre-register for the State of Digital Learning Report to get early access to all the challenges, trends and new ways of working facing L&D this year. 

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