Deloitte: 8 key trends in learning and development

12 August 2015

The learning and development of staff through organisational efforts has the potential to greatly improve their performance as well as that of the business as a whole. In a time of rapidly changing business environment, keeping staff up-to-date and innovative are key capacities for success. In recent research from by Deloitte, the current trends are identified as well as how medium and large Dutch corporates are engaging with the trends in the learning and development landscape.

Learning on the job – if done cost effectively – is a win-win for the organisation and the employee. Self-improvement, within an employment space in which to achieve it, has the potential to help both business and personal outcomes. For more and more businesses their attracted talent is one of their greatest assets and keeping that talent engaged and innovating is a key concern for many businesses. Developing that talent and allowing it to reach its fullest potential is often the job of the Learning & Development (L&D) department. Yet the function and scope of L&D varies across various nations and organisational size categories and types.

Participating organisations

In recent research from the Dutch Human Capital practice of Deloitte Consulting, the trends of Dutch L&D initiatives are considered broadly, for which the researchers approached 14 medium (1000 – 9,999) and large (10,000+) organisations to find out which of the key trends were engaged with by L&D, as well as how much importance and how much investment they garnered.

The key trends
As part of the study the researchers identified eight trends that, within the Dutch context, are practiced within multi-national organisations (in summary):

key trends in learning and development 1-4

1 – Learning focuses on increasing business results
This trend sees organisational L&D put greater emphasis on effective and cost-efficient learning that positively impacts business results. This includes the strategic use of resources, alignment with business goals, direction of increasing innovation and work capability.

2 – Strategic talent management becomes essential
According to this trend, the strategic development, attraction, incorporation and retention of an ‘expertise elite’ is getting more attention, with organisations investing in human capital that can increase organisational performance.

3 – Personalised learning: focus on the individual learner
More learning contents and materials are customised for the learner, to ensure that learning contents meet the individual’s goals, passion and talent.

4 – Learners become more self-directed
Learners are becoming responsible for their own L&D and determine their own career paths, learning contents and methods. As a result, employees are held responsible for their employability, mobility and transferability by developing expertise.

key trends in learning and development 5-8

5 – Mobile learning becomes popular
As a result of present needs for flexibility and mobility, the modern learner learns anywhere and anytime, using their smartphones, tablets and laptops. Time and location are not fixed in this way for learning, with mobile learning more and more accepted.

6 – The workplace becomes the learning environment
Many organisations facilitate learning at the workplace as learning becoming a part of the daily work, integrated in the work processes by the use of informal learning tools and technologies.

7 – More knowledge sharing and team learning
Knowledge sharing is increasingly applied in both digital and personal forms, with employees sharing their knowledge with people in the fame field to learn from each other by discussing and evaluating practices.

8 – Increased need for content curation
HRD (Human Resource Development) structures, organises, regulates, facilitates and enables learning as it connects the learner and the learning content.

Distribution of recognized trends

To find out how the approached organisation are responding to the trends, the researchers used surveys and interviews to see how the companies rated the trends along three key metrics: recognition,  importance and investment. In terms of whether the isolated trends are practiced within organisations, the distribution does not present a clear picture. The analysis from the report highlights that organisations engage in a wide variety of L&D practices, with some outside the general trends listed. While mapping trends across organisations presented no clear pattern, when overlaying the importance organisations placed on a trend with their practice of that trend, correlation was found.

The trends identified as the most ‘key’ to L&D organisations are ‘strategic talent management becomes essential’, ‘learning focuses on increasing business results’ and ‘the workplace becomes the learning environment’. The least interesting and important trends are ‘increased need for content curation’ and ‘personalised learning: focus on the individual learner’. The most investment from L&D projects goes toward ‘strategic talent management’.

Averages investment, recognition and importance.

The authors conclude that: “The need for a sustainable, employable workforce, the fast changing environment and the motivation to become more innovative, fast adapting and client oriented. To sum up, organisations want to become a true learning organisation. Unfortunately, this is not always expressed in support for the L&D department.”