Training & Learning

3 Factors Changing Corporate Training Forever (Plus How L&D Teams Can Adapt)

Corporate training is in a state of flux. Long gone are the days when learning and development teams could design, plan, and deliver training using a small handful of methods and formats.

Employees have more influence than ever on learning and professional development. Traditional training sessions have been ditched in favor of bite-sized content that’s served up within the flow of work.

All these changes come at a time when L&D departments have more power and bigger budgets than ever before, which brings with it more pressure to prove the value of ongoing education. By securing a seat at the C-suite table, L&D is expected to play a pivotal role in the growth of the entire company.

To come out on top, L&D teams need to lead the charge by adapting their corporate training strategies. That means adjusting to a transformed, more adaptable workplace while also meeting the needs of employees who won’t accept the status quo.

1. The permanent shift to a hybrid workforce

In 2021, many companies delayed their attempts to head back to the office full time, and several finally decided to make hybrid work the norm for good. One study reports only half of U.S. workers will be in the office full time once the pandemic ends. It looks like the shift to hybrid and other flexible working environments is here to stay.

While most companies now have two years of experience handling a fully remote workforce, the finer details of managing a long-term hybrid workplace have yet to be figured out. What we do know is that combining in-office, hybrid, and remote teams creates a unique set of challenges.

As companies find their way, online learning programs are becoming more essential. Making the switch from in-person-first training means rethinking existing L&D processes and attitudes.

How to adapt to flexible work models

If you haven’t gone all-in on eLearning, it’s time to catch up. Online solutions are more affordable and easier to organize than in-person training sessions, and employees can take courses when and where it’s convenient for them.

Learning management software (LMS) makes it much easier to track individual progress, measure course completion rates, and prove ROI on training initiatives. Look for learning solutions that fit into employees’ daily lives, like micro-learning, mobile learning, and collaborative learning.

It’s also important to make sure your learning systems are up to date and easy to use. Think critically about what you hope to achieve with your learning initiatives and how you can help people learn together, even at a distance. Creating a strong learning culture doesn’t just help people learn better; it makes your company stronger.

2. The desire to learn at work is on the rise

Employees want more learning opportunities at work to improve their performance. One survey reports that 97% of employees want to expand or continue the amount of time they spend learning. And they’re serious about it—37% say they would leave their current job if they’re not offered skills training, and 48% of U.S. workers say they would switch jobs if the new company offered skills training opportunities.

This increase in the desire to learn is especially present in younger workers, who want more opportunities to get training as part of their job. In one study, 69% of Gen Z respondents said they are setting aside more time to learn in the workplace.

How to adapt to a learning-focused workforce

Make learning more accessible by offering self-directed learning options that provide flexibility and the ability to learn when it’s convenient for your teams. Implementing options like mobile learning allows your employees to follow their interests and hone skills in areas where they want more growth. Thanks to technology like LMS software, anytime, anywhere learning opportunities are easier to create than ever.

Another way to satisfy your employees’ growing appetite for learning is to lean on microlearning—just-in-time, bite-sized eLearning courses that help employees learn quickly and efficiently. To get started with microlearning, think about the most common questions or training needs within your organization, and break down the topics into short lessons that take five to ten minutes to complete. For example, you can create a series of five-minute courses that cover each step of your remote onboarding process.

48% of U.S. workers say they would switch jobs if the new company offered skills training opportunities.

3. The shift away from top-down corporate training

A traditional top-down management and learning model is a slow, static process that’s not effective for learner engagement, content quality, or measurable business impact. You need a more democratic learning system to meet the needs of employees who crave engagement and collaboration above all else.

Demographics play a huge role in this organizational shift. Millennials and Gen Z employees now represent 46% of the workforce, and they prefer more collaborative work environments and self-directed learning paths.

How to adapt to collaborative corporate training

Instead of a top-down management model, adopt a bottom-up, Collaborative Learning approach, where everyone at the company plays a role in course creation. The process is decentralized and democratized, so anyone can create a learning need, volunteer to create a course, or submit feedback on existing content. Training is more relevant and easier to produce. Teams can easily share institutional knowledge, leading to a decrease in brain drain and information silos.

Bottom-up corporate training allows individuals to play a more proactive role in their training journey. We’ve found that among companies that use our learning platform, non-L&D team members create 85% of the courses, shifting the role of L&D from executors of content to facilitators.

Collaborative learning

At 360Learning, we’ve fully embraced this model, not just in our learning philosophy but also in our management style. We call it Convexity, which combines low authority with high individual accountability. We focus on transparency, constant iteration, and accountability via metric tracking. Access to information means everyone has the power to make decisions, which promotes a more inclusive environment.

How to keep up with the ongoing evolution of corporate training

Even though we can’t predict exactly how learning will evolve in the future, we do have a sense of where it’s going. Global human talent shortages are predicted to exceed 85 million by 2030, which means L&D teams need to stay on top of new trends to get ahead of this impending problem.

An easy way to stay ahead of the curve: join our recently launched L&D Collective—a free global community for L&D leaders to share knowledge, build relationships, and leverage collaborative learning. By becoming a member, you gain access to other L&D leaders and have an opportunity to share strategies with each other.

You can also keep up with trends by subscribing to our CLO Connect series, where we’ve posted interviews with over 60 learning and development professionals from companies like Slack, Gong, Disneyland Paris, Qualtrics, and Instacart. These interviews take an honest look at the current state of L&D and dive into the realities of the future of corporate training.