5 Areas You Might Have Missed in Your 2021 L&D Strategy

2021 L&D strategy

As the pandemic continues into 2021, and organizations are continuing their march towards increasing online learning and engagement, there are still a few areas that require a deeper look or a more comprehensive perspective when it comes to your 2021 L&D strategy.

More than simply launching initiatives and jumpstarting new processes, a robust strategy must underpin all decisions. Without the big picture, short-term functions can fail. Considering the wide-scale effects of seemingly small actions can inject more relevance and importance to the efforts of L&D.

Let’s have a look at a few considerations to bring into your 2021 L&D strategy which will not only help make course development more efficient but will also help learning leaders and talent developers extract more visibility and ROI from their efforts.

1. Rely on data as a decision-maker

We’ve long advocated for data-driven decision-making for L&D, but moving forward, this is more critical than ever.

Collecting data is important not only to determine the ROI of outcomes of learning experiences but also even before learning projects can be planned. This data collection relates to capacity planning, so L&D teams can be sure they have the right resources in place in order to satisfy the organization’s demand for training.

Though they declined more than half a percent from 2019, U.S. training expenditures stood at $82.5 billion for 2020, according to Training magazine’s 2020 Training Industry Report. That is still robust given the economic and workplace uncertainties brought about by the pandemic.

A panel of learning experts discussed this concept recently in the webinar “The New L&D Gameplan.” You can view the full on-demand recording here.

While qualitative or anecdotal evidence of success can be useful, the more data that can be used to justify expenditures, the better.

2. Incorporate strategies for learning retention 

While most talent developers would be thrilled that a recently launched course produced immediate positive outcomes for learners, there’s another potential headache looming on the horizon: learner retention.

If that learning is not reinforced or applied consistently in an intentional manner, the employee runs the risk of forgetting up to 75 percent of what was learned. Known as the “forgetting curve,” this adds another challenge for both L&D and the learner because all of the time spent in developing and delivering a course could be rendered useless.

To combat this, talent developers can develop continuous learning modules, supplemental learning material, or continuous assessment that can be made available to learners after the principal course is delivered.

learning trends 2021

3. Be aware of obsolescence

While learner retention is certainly a headache, the ability for learners to stay ahead of the curve with respect to industry-accepted knowledge can be another real threat.

Skill obsolescence is a real threat. According to eLearningIndustry, the average shelf life of a business competency has dropped from 30 years in 1984 to 5 years in 2014. And it’s only getting shorter.

You certainly wouldn’t want to invest the resources to build a course for a skill that will be rendered useless in just one year. As such, L&D will need to be much more judicious when evaluating training requests. While they usually rely on the expertise of the business partner making the request, if the skill or competency seems too narrow or niche, talent developers will need to do some homework to determine just how long of a shelf-life the potential learning will have.

If the required training would be too complicated to produce in-house and might become obsolete, learning leaders will need to consider external resources. It might seem like a cop-out, but it will save precious internal resources.

4. Attract and retain talent via L&D

While individual workers are well aware that they are the masters of their own destiny—they must take responsibility for their own professional development—they tend to choose employers that provide opportunities for learning and development.

This provides an opportunity to present another metric to senior management as part of your 2021 L&D strategy: the ability to attract and retain talent.

Work with human capital management to have the applicant tracking system capture information about interest in L&D programs, or provide ongoing employee surveys to determine whether your organization’s learning initiatives are indeed transforming the company into an employer of choice and encouraging stellar employees to stay.

5. Do more with less

Moving all instruction online usually means adding all sorts of bells and whistles to keep learners engaged: animations, graphics, videos, even music.

However, be aware that much of this might not be necessary. In fact, it can even backfire.

Just because the gee-whiz technology exists—and you may have received budget to “liven up” the courses you build in-house—doesn’t mean that you need to incorporate it. Extra design elements can slow course development down and even confuse or frustrate learners.

To guard against incorporating unnecessary elements, go back to your training intake system, interface with the business partner who made the request, and try to get a better understanding of the type of material that needs to be delivered and the persona of the learner. Sometimes, indeed, you can do much more with much less.

Planning for 2021 has never been more relevant or more crucial to the success of L&D.
Download our Learning and Development 2021 Strategy Toolkit today!

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