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2021 L&D Challenges – Not your boss but your steppingstone!



The changes that were forced upon us during the Covid-19 pandemic proved our resilience and agility. In all likelihood, it is safe to say that most of these changes are here to stay until Covid-19 has subsided and we’ve managed to stand in triumph against it as a human race. However – the ripple effects of the Covid changes have not left our L&D departments untouched.


It’s only human to feel overwhelmed and already defeated when facing challenges – even more so when possibly dealing with challenges never seen before. The question to ask then is how can we use these challenges and the overwhelming initial rush of emotions as steppingstones to future-proof our L&D strategies? How do we shift the narrative from it steering us off course to it guiding us into a new and exciting reality?


Resilience speaks to our ability to see every challenge as an opportunity to adjust our sails and improve our ways. The sudden announcement of hard lockdown left businesses and their employees reeling from the shock. Learning and Development teams had to react swiftly and find ways to ensure continuity of existing learning programmes. Some organisations moved in-person learning to virtual platforms such as ZOOM while e-learning solution strategies and roll-outs were the exit plan for others. The speed at which the pivot happened meant that learning and development department heads and leaders were left with little time to fine-tune their approach and newly introduced solutions. In 2021 however, we will have to step out of the “reaction” state and boldly move into the transformation at hand.


This means reflecting on 2020 reactionary decisions and identifying ways to improve, even if that asks of us to implement more suitable and effective solutions to better suit the overall business objectives and L&D strategies.


A McKinsey report published in 2020 showcased that roughly 90% of executives are currently facing skill gaps or predicted that they will possibly be within the next couple of years. The pandemic has significantly shortened the half-life of skills with skills becoming redundant in a shorter space of time, but in 2020 job requirements took a 90-degree turn and the training of employees on new process and skills accelerated incredibly. As organisations adapt, so will the demand for new skills. Soft skills and empathy continue to be front and centre for L&D teams for the year 2021 in their efforts to support overall company success. Training programmes will have to include leadership training focused on empowering leaders to stay engaged with their teams across various work environments as well as communication and general hybrid workplace protocol training.


Now that majority of the workforce can safely return to the office, many companies have announced that they will stick to an optional work-from-home policy, also implicating the way we solidify current learning and development solutions. This means that L&D teams will have to create training programmes in such a way that it will accommodate both at-home employees and those who returned to the office space full-time.


Lastly, how will L&D leadership manage to continue with on-the-job learning now that it’s not as easy to hop on over to an employee’s desk for informal learning? L&D teams will be challenged to present with innovative and effective solutions to keep crucial on-the-job learning alive and to ensure that subject-matter-expert knowledge is captured and converted into digital training formats as much as possible. L&D leaders might consider focusing on social learning initiatives and mentorship programmes to fill the gap of what used to be in-person learning opportunities.


Can we find ways to do more with less? Can we meet the higher standards we face with fewer resources? How can we prioritize organisational training needs as effectively as possible?


These will be our core challenges as the L&D team in 2021.


Are we still here, breathing, after one rollercoaster of a year? Yes.


Have we successfully adapted our ways of working in the shortest possible time? Yes!!


So why won’t we be successful in our attempts to overcome the challenges set out for us in the coming year?


We are resilient, we are agile, and we are more than capable. We are L&D!


And we are up for the challenge!


Contact us today!

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