Top Workplace Learning Trends in 2021

Last year’s pandemic left no industry unaffected and its impact is still felt strongly today. Learning and Development (L&D) strategies have had to rapidly shift in order to accommodate new ways of remote working.

What were once upcoming workplace learning trends, like learning analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR), are now less of a priority compared to trends such as collaborative learning and reskilling and upskilling.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at which workplace learning trends have become more important to businesses, and how employers can implement them effectively.

Trend #1: Upskilling and reskilling

The latest L&D Global Sentiment Survey uncovered many of the 2021 workplace learning trends. When asked, “What will be hot in L&D in 2021?”, 13% of respondents voted for reskilling/upskilling. This newly introduced option quickly became the number one vote, making it clear what is at the top of the voters’ agenda.

But what is upskilling and reskilling, exactly?

Upskilling simply means teaching new skills to employees, while reskilling means teaching employees skills they need to do a different job.

Not sure what the difference between the two is? Well, upskilling aims to make an employee more skilled at their current job, whereas reskilling is about making an employee capable of performing another job within the company. To use an example related to COVID-19, Scandinavian Airlines reskilled cabin staff members with basic medical training to work as assistant nurses.

One year after the outbreak, and amidst furlough schemes and the shift to remote work, it’s not surprising that companies are – and will continue – upskilling and reskilling employees. To do so, L&D teams are allocating their budgets to digital learning platforms and services, while decreasing expenditure previously reserved to external/internal trainers and events.

Here is why this trend is crucial. In a time of economic upheaval, organisations had to think and act quickly in order to survive — and remaining agile is key. In order to adapt to a fast-changing market and continue delivering value to customers, employees must be quick learners and creative problem solvers. So businesses must prepare their workforce to update their skill sets, better collaborate, and serve customers. That’s why upskilling and reskilling are no longer a luxury, but a necessity. This trend is even more relevant now with remote work forcing employees to work with new tools and managers to measure performance in new ways.

To implement this trend, you need an appropriate learning ecosystem. A Learning Management System (LMS) does just that and provides great, engaging content that ensures effective online learning, especially for employees who are working from home.

Trend #2: The rise of soft skills training

Soft skills have always been essential, but the last year has really shined a light on how critical they really are. Workers must learn to work independently, and managers need to communicate, supervise, and lead remotely. Since face-to-face training has drastically decreased, the need for online soft skills training has skyrocketed during 2020 and will keep rising.

There are several methods you can use for online L&D programmes to help improve employees’ soft skills:

  • Self-paced eLearning: employees go through modules on their own schedule.
  • Mobile learning: employees access learning material on their smartphones anytime, anywhere – even when offline.
  • Microlearning: bite-sized and fun learning material in the form of videos, guides, exercises, etc.
  • Social learning: encouraging discussions on chats and forums to share information and best practices.
  • Personalised learning using an LMS: individual learning pathways that match each employee’s needs and preferences.

These methods can be used to teach soft skills such as:

  • Adaptability: the ability to embrace change and produce good results under new circumstances.
  • Resilience: maintaining positivity and personal wellbeing while working from home to remain productive and satisfied.
  • Teamwork: communication and collaboration are even more crucial in the context of remote working.
  • Persuasion: crucial for overcoming buyer resistance and improving team management relations as well as workplace behaviours.
  • Creativity: all companies nowadays must come up with new ways to create value, maintain profitability, and ensure effective collaboration.

Trend #3: Creating a learning culture

Creating a learning culture within a company has been important long before the 2020 outbreak. A learning culture is one where learning is embedded into the company’s values, meaning learners are engaged and go out of their way to learn. And businesses that invest in learning improve overall business performance, helping them become more innovative and profitable.

This trend will always be relevant, but implementing it remotely is even harder and therefore even more critical. Businesses that understand that their learning and development strategy is linked to improved work performance will be better equipped to create and encourage an environment of continuous learning. Rather than being a fun optional extra that employees can partake in when they have the time, learning is instead viewed as a direct way to improve business performance.

The L&D Global Sentiment Survey supports this, as collaboration and social learning were the second-highest priority of voters. Employees are feeling more isolated than ever, so companies must ramp up their efforts to develop a collaborative learning culture that facilitates social interaction as well. One of the most effective methods to achieve that is the gamification of training, as it engages employees and helps them feel included.

Implementing the right LMS is the first step. The second is listening to your employees’ wants and needs, and delivering content and modules that are relevant, engaging, and funny. Doing so improves not only the skills of employees but their collaboration too.

👉 Create a learning culture of collaboration and engagement using entertaining content

Trend #4: Utilising engaging and effective content

To help employees close their skills gap, you need content that addresses their needs in an engaging way while also being aligned with your business goals.

Video is perfect for this, as it’s the most engaging content format. But while you can produce videos in-house, it can cost time and resources, so outsourcing this task is key to delivering engaging content and fostering a learning culture.

When learning content is interesting, relevant, and entertaining, your employees will be even more engaged in improving, paving the way for improved productivity, relations, and bottom line. So determining the right content for your employees is vital to your learning and development strategy. What’s also vital is making this content accessible for remote workers, which can be achieved by providing a user-friendly LMS that makes learning experiences easy. Even better, you can make the move to a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) which allows users to create their own courses by pulling from a range of content.

Make these trends work for you…

Making learning experiences engaging in today’s remote world is a key concern of the L&D teams we work with. While workplace learning trends will always change, focusing on any of the four trends we covered in this article will help maximise learner engagement. And providing fun, engaging content that speaks to employees is the crux of successfully delivering training programmes.

It’s important to note, however, whatever content you choose must work for your own context. Your workforce may already have certain skills and your business will want to go further by finding content that helps employees expand their knowledge. Finding the right content that works for your individual needs can help with this.

That’s where Video Arts comes in. We provide the right tools to create an effective learning environment via humorous and engaging video content. It’s what our clients use to teach employees new skills while ensuring their wellbeing and motivation as they work remotely. Implementing all of this alongside other learning strategies like micro-learning and gamification can take you even further and ensure you are developing employees effectively.

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