The pandemic years saw an exponential rise in organizational investment in digital learning, and for good reason. With in-person learning no longer an option, organizations were forced to quickly adapt to the changing world of work in order to ensure workers were prepared with the knowledge and training necessary to operate in ways they had never before seen. Beyond operational imperatives, organizations have turned to digital learning systems to find new ways to track and bolster productivity, sentiment and engagement of the workforce. This serves to protect the investments made in hiring, onboarding and upskilling or reskilling talent by mitigating risk and regrettable attrition as well as helping employees along a career path that is achievable and desirable for the employee and strategically advantageous to the employer.
As we approach 2023, organizations have even bigger expectations of digital learning systems, largely due to advancements in artificial intelligence and the sheer volume of data it can address. In addition, cross-system integrations now provide unprecedented access into how and where employees actually work and learn. I suggest that this focus will result in three major trends for 2023:
- Hyper-personalization. I’ve written extensively about the importance of personalization in the employee experience to drive engagement and performance. Organizations are looking for ways to hyper-personalize the digital learning experience for workers. This means creating a learning environment that is tailored to the individual needs of each learner. By tracking how employees interact – not just with digital learning content but with all systems that employees use on a daily basis – patterns and trends can be identified and used to create a personalized learning experience that includes custom content and delivery mediums to meet the learning objectives of both employer and employee.
- Tying learning to business outcomes. This isn’t new per se, but how it is done and what is measured is becoming much more sophisticated than in years past. Pre- and post-training surveys will continue, as they allow organizations to see if there is a change in knowledge or attitudes after the training. This doesn’t really measure training efficacy, though, as the real measure of learning success is its adoption and applicability. In addition to examining performance data to track changes in overall productivity and performance, organizations will now be looking for sustained changes in work habits, time savings, attitudes, progress-to-goals and, for some, even revenue per person. As digital learning platforms continue evolving from compliance and basic training into engagement, retention and performance platforms, so will the requirements for tying these investments to business outcomes continue to become more concrete. Look for human capital management leaders to redefine the efficacy of digital learning programs using the same terms and measurements the chief operating officer and chief financial officer use to define efficacy of their teams.
- Non-traditional learning mediums. Organizations will continue to look to learning platforms to bolster productivity, performance and employee engagement; identify and close skills gaps; discover and define talent and career paths; and mitigate a host of operational risks. This is a heavy lift for any single system, and adoption is key. In order to ensure the best return on investment, organizations must ensure that employees can engage with the platform in ways that most resonate with them individually. We assert that by 2025, one-half of organizations exploring a new LMS/LXP will expect it to maximize mixed-reality technologies to “job explore” or simulate the experience of working in a new role. Look for a movement beyond traditional written or video content delivery to include augmented and virtual realities. Choose-your-own-adventure types of interactive delivery, where learners get to see the outcome of each choice in the application, will become more prevalent. These will join micro-learning opportunities within the flow of work as well as an increase in social, collaborative learning and gamification as organizations look to engage a variety of generations and learning styles to maximize platform investments.
There is no doubting the pivotal role that digital learning systems have played in supporting organizational performance during one of most pivotal workplace shifts of our time. As the return on investment becomes even more clear, I believe that role will continue to expand. The world of work continues to evolve, and software providers continue to expand system capabilities to capitalize on advances in AI, data and analytics to appeal to a multigenerational workforce with myriad learning styles. By embracing that technology, organizations will see improved worker engagement, performance and business outcomes.