Learning & Development

Wild 2020 Highlights Key Challenges and Opportunities for 2021

2020 was a remarkable year in so many ways, ranging from public health crises, economic turmoil, and business and workplace disruptions to racial and social justice movements and political fireworks. Amid all the chaos, a few themes stand out particularly strongly: the importance of inclusiveness, the need for adaptability, and the power of change. Each of these themes should resonate strongly with HR departments and learning and development (L&D) professionals, as they represent both challenges and opportunities for companies across the country and worldwide.

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The unprecedented disruption of 2020 has acted as a forced experiment around the world, forcing companies to adapt, develop strategies for managing turmoil, and witness firsthand how those efforts turn out.

Todd Moran, chief learning strategist at NovoEd, a collaborative learning platform, predicts what L&D trends will continue in 2021 and what companies can do to incorporate them into their business strategy to remain competitive, including: 

  • Remote work requires new ways of learning: In 2020, only 52% of organizations rated themselves technologically ready for corporate learning that supports remote workers.
  • Learning shapes inclusive work: Diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) initiatives gained heightened urgency last year and forced leaders to rethink how this was being addressed within their workforce. As these conversations continue into 2021, corporate learning can play a large role in building truly inclusive cultures that emphasize and recognize the diverse people, thoughts, ideas and experiences that make up our organizations.
  • Prioritizing well-being and belonging through learning: Not only are employees burned out from working longer hours and the stress of balancing work with personal lives, they also are experiencing Zoom fatigue like never before. Supplementing the typical Zoom learning session with group assignments, breakout discussions and peer feedback will combat this reliance of learning via web conference and allow for better engagement and social interaction between learners. 

There’s nothing magical about the number 2021, unfortunately. Despite the hopes of millions, this year is likely to have many of the same challenges as 2020. Perhaps the biggest difference and greatest advantage of 2021 over 2020 is the fact that business and HR leaders have their experience from 2020 to guide their strategic decision-making going into 2021.