Future of Learning Learn Better

5 Powerful Forces Shaping L&D in 2017

Written by Grovo

For L&D, the times they are a-changin’. Here’s what you need to know.


Change is in the air—especially if you work in L&D. From the boardroom to the job boards, learning is rapidly taking center stage for employees and employers alike. More than eight out of 10 leaders say learning is an important issue, and Harvard Business Review reports that “job seekers from entry-level to executive are more concerned with opportunities for learning and development than any other aspect of a prospective job.”

In this post, we’ll cover five critical forces of change that are propelling L&D forward, and explain why they matter to you. Understand these forces and you won’t just see the change happening in L&D; you’ll have a chance to actually be it. Let’s get started.

Force #1: The Explosive Growth of the Talent Economy

shutterstock_104304611Today more than ever, it’s people that hold the key to your company’s success. As manual jobs get automated out of existence, it’s the distinctly human skills—the ability to reason, to make decisions, to think creatively—that give an organization its competitive advantage. More than half the top 50 companies in the world are talent-based, including Apple, Microsoft, and Google.

For that reason, smart companies are pivoting business strategies to invest more deeply in developing people—not processes. It’s a wide open opportunity for you, the sharp and sophisticated learning professional, to step up and have a greater impact on the bottom line and a greater influence on how business is done.

Force #2: The Information Flood (and the Attention Drought)

shutterstock_334399862These days attention spans are at an all-time low—and information overload is at an all-time high. It’s a combination that wreaks havoc on productivity, costing U.S. businesses $650 billion a year. That figure may be shocking, but it makes sense: when our brains are inundated with information, it shuts down our cognitive ability to make decisions, control emotions, stay organized, set priorities, and manage time.

There’s a silver lining here: forward-thinking organizations are investing in smart technology solutions to help their workforce access the right information, at the right time, in the right way. This is a shining opportunity for you to guide your organization toward a learning approach that marries point-of-need convenience with need-to-know information.

Force #3: New Media Reaches Critical Mass

shutterstock_101193925How much of our day do we spend scrolling, swiping, and liking stuff? For many of us, it’s more time than we’d like to admit. Platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook have redefined how people consume and interact with information—and these addictive digital experiences are eroding engagement rates for legacy learning systems.

The good news is, learning doesn’t have to take a backseat to the new media revolution. There’s nothing stopping creative learning professionals from co-opting best-in-class standards of usability, design, and personalization and applying them to learning content. The tools are available—what we need is the creativity. Where will you take your content?

shutterstock_83484706Force #4: The Fluid Workforce in Motion

The traditional employee-employer relationship is crumbling before our very eyes. Did you know that according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office 40% of our workforce is already contingent? And that number will likely only rise. In the future of work, talent will flow even more seamlessly from employer to employer, project to project, and eventually even task to task.

That means in order to stay competitive, companies will need faster, more nimble, and more effective ways to get the continually revolving door of talent up to speed and producing results. All eyes are on the learning professional to lead the way in tackling this challenge—and the clock is ticking.

Force #5: Learning Technology’s Tectonic Shift

shutterstock_442152712Technology’s role in workplace learning is rapidly evolving. Legacy LMSs no longer meet the needs of the modern learner, or the modern enterprise. They’re static—digital storage closets designed for a time when companies were first embracing the cloud—and a new wave of learning technology is taking over.

This next generation of learning technology is what HR, talent, and learning analyst Josh Bersin has dubbed “learning experience platforms,” many of which are seeking to engage learners in the same kind of meaningful, convenient, and rewarding experience they get everywhere else online. This is a long overdue and represents a game-changing leap forward for L&D.

Learning’s Time to Shine

There’s no doubt about it: workplace learning is having its day in the sun. The question is, will we make the most of it? The better we understand the forces driving this change, the better positioned we’ll be to harness them and create learning experiences that truly make a difference.

Which of the forces above excites you most and why? Write your answer in the comments section below!