Predicting the future often is associated with the image of a crystal ball; however, a scientist doing calculus might make for a better option. The visions fortune-tellers conjure are not particularly trustworthy, while information from scientists typically is. That’s because numbers don’t lie—patterns may be hard to identify and interpret, but the numbers behind them will always be crystal clear.
While a crystal ball is not required to predict that post-pandemic, working and professional training will be different from what they were previously, pinpointing exactly how things will evolve requires some level of pattern recognition.
Here are four HR and learning and development (L&D) trends that will be gaining traction in the near future, based on current patterns and trends.
- Hybrid Workforces
Remote work was on the rise even before the pandemic, and it will be part of the “new normal” moving forward. Employees are willing to give up some of their raises in exchange for this flexibility, and some may even consider looking for another job if they can’t work remotely, at least partially. Managers and HR and L&D departments should take note, and adapt their policies to meet the needs of a hybrid workforce.
A hybrid workplace can take more than one form, including:
- Some employees could work from the office, while others work remotely.
- All employees could work from the office three or four days a week, and from home the other days.
- All employees from a department could work from the office on certain days, while other departments on the others.
- Each employee could work either from the office or from home on any given day.
Management may need to implement some structure at first, as well as strong internal communication. But while it may be challenging to set up a well-functioning hybrid workplace, it is also well worth it, to attract and retain the best talent in the near future.
- Right-Skilling Programs
A skilled workforce stands at the base of any functioning organization. Employees know how important it is to keep their professional skills sharp, and companies offer skill-building programs to meet these demands. However, determining which employees need to focus on which skills can be tricky. Companies that will stand the test of time will be those with clear strategies for right-skilling their workforce.
For instance, the move to remote work required many employees and managers to adapt to new technologies while managing their time and tasks in a different work environment. Companies that provided training modules on cybersecurity best practices, time management, how to use certain tools, and how to communicate in the virtual environment helped employees overcome these challenges faster and avoided productivity losses. Likewise, training modules on how to conduct meetings online; build rapport with employees, customers, and partners through Web conferencing tools; and manage conflict virtually were of great use for managers.
Any training program needs to constantly adapt to new business realities. Future success will dependon how well businesses and employees identify pressing skills gaps and how quickly training departments can design and deploy programs that bridge them.
- Asynchronous Training
Even though more people will return to the workplace, at least partially, in time, most training will continue to happen online. Instructors and trainees don’t have to be in the same place at the same time because learning typically is not tied to a certain place. In addition, retention rates tend to be better when training occurs at a time that’s most convenient for each learner (instead of one instructor).
Asynchronous training can happen on a spectrum, with L&D professionals setting the level of synchronization to fit specific needs for the company/department and for employees. For example, some compliance modules can be done completely asynchronously, while some short shadowing sessions where a new hire “learns the ropes” for a certain task can happen synchronously, even on short notice. However, for more complex training courses, it’s often beneficial to take a blended approach: where learners can go through the course content at their own pace while also attending regular, live Q&A sessions with the instructor and submitting required assignments by certain deadlines.
Because asynchronous training bypasses time and place barriers—which benefits all employees, regardless of location—this trend is here to stay.
- “Intelligent” Learning Platforms
Lastly, we’re now seeing accelerated progress in terms of learning tools and platforms. The most common type of learning platform—the learning management system (LMS)—has transformed immensely over the years. While at first, it simply allowed instructors to create online training courses and keep track of learner progress, it is now a comprehensive solution that meets various learner needs, collects more learner data, and provides more analytics so instructors can create better courses, and managers can make better decisions.
An “intelligent learning platform” takes things further:
- It includes more learning experience platform (LXP) functionality, which focuses even more deeply on learner needs.
- It integrates with more complex tools and technologies, such as smart speakers or virtual reality.
- It could even measure previously unmeasurable components, such as learners’ emotions when progressing through a training module.
Automation plays an important role in this development, too. Automated recommendations can help each individual learn and perform better, making the entire learning experience more personal and interactive.
Since the pandemic has fast-tracked technological advancements, intelligent learning platforms will be more widely used in the near future.
Keeping an Eye on the Horizon
With the pandemic seemingly waning in some areas, and a “new normal” starting to take effect, HR and L&D professionals need to continue to adjust to optimize the processes for working and training. Hybrid workplaces, right-skilling programs, asynchronous training, and intelligent learning platforms are the beginning of the new workplace, with technology and data-driven insights at the center.