Learning and Development: Global Sentiment Survey review

The aim of the Learning & Development (L&D) Global Sentiment survey is to take an annual pulse-check of the L&D field, and to understand the likely direction of its future state. Following the release of the latest survey, we explore the findings of Donald H Taylor, as he asks voters “What will be hot in workplace L&D in 2022?”

Introducing the survey, Taylor comments that following the pandemic, L&D is at a turning point, and that this is mainly a result of two key drivers.

  1. The fact that as businesses slowly recover from the global pandemic, more training and delivery options are required.
  2. Businesses are also still trying to deal with the emergency measures they were forced to put in place in 2020 to respond to the immediate impact of COVID-19.

The response to challenge and change is a major theme throughout this years’ survey, as apparent in the free text question “what is your biggest L&D challenge in 2022?” Here, respondents implied that they’re being asked to do more in very difficult circumstances, such as supporting the learning of overworked and uninterested employees.

In fact, almost 40% of respondents chose to answer this optional question, with answers totalling 16,827 words together. The results read that L&D does want to deliver ‘training’ (99 mentions) for the ‘business’ (98) but that ‘time’ (89) is clearly an issue. So too, possibly are ‘people’ (80) when building ‘skills’ (73) in a ‘hybrid’ (73) or ‘online’ (66) environment.

Beyond looking at individual words, Taylor also categorises roughly 80% of the answers into 16 groups, with 66% of those answers falling into categories such as:

  • Learner engagement (17%)
  • Stakeholder enthusiasm (15%)
  • Going or staying digital/hybrid (15%)
  • Technology (11%)
  • Budget and resources (11%)

The 87 single word answers reflect the concise, heart-felt feedback that the Global Sentiment Survey is designed to elicit, and 17 of them were a variation on ‘budget’, ‘finances’, ‘funding’ and ‘resources’.

However, some further trends emerge throughout the survey too. For example, the 2021 report highlighted a global, unprecedented desire to reskill and upskill, and this took the top spot in the 2022 survey.

In fact, across the 7 regions who took part in the survey, Africa was most enthusiastic for reskilling/upskilling with 14.5% of the vote, whereas Australia and New Zealand were the least at 12%.

Coaching/mentoring was a new addition in 2020, though this year it was the option that divided participating countries the most, topping the poll in New Zealand with 11.6% of the vote, but ranking a low 3.3% in Sweden.

In contrast, the collaborative/social learning score had been declining since the first Global L&D survey, up until 2021 when it unexpectedly recovered, now scoring 9.6% of the vote in 2022.

Interestingly however, there was a new addition to the list of options this year, securing a 7.2% vote in the survey: skills-based talent management (SBTM).

SBTM attempts to solve a long-standing issue: the difficultly of knowing what people can do. It exists because traditionally, we’ve used qualifications, experience, job titles or length of tenure as proxies for this, and whilst this was acceptable in the past, work needs have changed and this is no longer as effective as it used to be.

Now, project teams are much more common, and organisations need to find people with the right skills to fill team positions far more often. This has accelerated the need to better understand people’s skillsets, and to compare them with the tasks at hand. However, whilst SBTM may itself be a relatively new term, it’s not necessarily a new topic in the world of L&D.

In fact, the survey itself highlights that in March 2022, a Google search for SBTM returned just 6,140 results, whereas over 18 million results came back for “Learning Management Systems” (LMS). The two are very closely tied, as SBTM aims to replace existing, otherwise weak, relationships between tasks, skills, qualifications and experience, with more accurate relationships using a common language.

Ultimately, this requires new infrastructure, and it’s the role of an LMS platform to help build that. As a result, businesses are then able to understand what skills a person should develop for a role, how to fill positions based on actual ability rather than claims on a CV and plan future organisational capability with confidence.

In summary, the 2022 Global Sentiment Survey highlights that L&D faces new challenges in 2022, but that the greatest challenge it faces is to physically change and equip itself to engage with stakeholders. However, for L&D to be able to do this, it must reach beyond the daily tasks of delivering training and helping people learn, and instead aim to not just serve a business, but influence it.

To reach this position of influence, the survey concludes that L&D has to be able to discuss the strategic implications of its work on level terms with an organisation. For L&D to achieve strategic influence, it must have a deep knowledge of the business, its goals and its data – L&D must then be able to express it, build it into actionable strategies and ultimately, execute delivery.

Only then can L&D gain essential influence from the top down.

For us here at BuildEmpire, this really resonates, as we build learning platforms that help drive learning and development throughout your business.

We’re focused on delivering solutions that not only meet your learning and business goals, but exceed them. Then, through training and ongoing support, we’ll ensure you and your learners always get the most out of it.

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