Top Learning Trends for 2020

If you are re-evaluating your training plan due to COVID-19, what changes should you make? Have learning trends for 2020 shifted at all? Let’s take a look at where training is headed this year and how to maximize your program to the fullest as everyone adapts to changes.

Here are our top trends we recommend to maximize your learning program.

1. Start with the top

This year, there is an increased focus on managers. While employee training is always going to be valuable, you shouldn’t forget about more senior staff and leaders. More and more companies are taking a lateral approach to operating their companies and with this trend, managers need training on new skills. Some of this training includes employee engagement, productivity and culture.

2. Use coaching

Another way you can help more senior leaders is through executive coaching.  An executive coach is different from taking the necessary training for job success from a facilitator. They provide the tools to help managers learn. Plus, these coaches can pinpoint the best way in which your managers learn. Since every person is different in how they retain and use training on the job, it’s imperative that you figure out what works best for each manager. In addition, since this person is usually not an employee of your company, they can provide an unbiased opinion of your managerial team. And by focusing on management’s leadership style, this will help managers prepare better for their jobs and increase their communication skills.

3. Incorporate AI

With advances in technology, artificial intelligence is also making our list of top learning trends for 2020. While some training does lend itself better in-person, many training modules can be run solely online using AI quite effectively. Take, for example, learning management systems. It’s easier to build in reminders of when to take testing, keep track of who has completed training, and assess how well the training is going via a computer versus a person. Plus, you can run different types of training easier like time modules or incorporate assessments.

4. Personalize it

Employees more than ever see the value in training. However, they don’t always “buy-in” to the process. That’s why one of the learning trends for 2020 is to make it individualized. If an employee sees a learning plan tailored to their specific needs, they understand why they are being given the training assigned. Plus, they understand what they personally gain from taking and using the training.

5. Diversify it

There are a few ways to personalize training. For example, everyone learns differently and everyone has varied development needs. You can offer the same training module in a variety of learning styles like using visual cues or adding audio files. Or you can make training accessible across various devices to accommodate sales teams and other employees who travel or are out of the office frequently. Whatever method you use, by focusing on the individual, the employee will see themselves as a valued team member and not simply a cog in the company wheel.

6. Increase focus on technology training

As more machines, systems and processes become automated, the more the demand for managing these become necessary. So there will be an increased need this year for technology training. As much as people say technology is replacing people, there still needs to be humans managing these behind the scenes. And this includes learning the latest tech trends and skills.

7. Offer upskilling

The Work Institute in a recent study found that career development, work/life balance and bad managers are consistently the top reasons employees quit versus compensation cited in only nine percent of exit interviews. So with that said, upskilling will be one of the learning trends for 2020 to watch for. With newer generations entering the workforce, they are looking to advance both within the company and with their personal skill development. So by offering learning tracks that build upon previously learned skills, this will help keep your valuable workforce happy.

8. Build up soft skills

While it’s vital employees are training on the latest technology to do their job effectively. It’s equally as important to have skills like good communication and the ability to work within a team. So developing soft skills is becoming more and more important as companies become flatter in structures. In fact, the Stanford Research Institute International and the Carnegie Mellon Foundation found that 75 percent of long-term job success depends upon soft skills mastery and only 25 percent on technical skills.

9. Train with geofencing

A geofence uses a GPS type of function and a cell phone to identify when a person is in a particular area, then a business can send that individual alerts or information. For example, you enter your local grocery store with your grocery store’s app downloaded on your phone. You have enabled location so the app knows when you enter the produce section of the store. It can then send you push notifications of what’s on sale in that particular area.

This same technique is being used more and more in training employees. Geofencing is one of the learning trends for 2020 because it can send training to employees right when it’s needed. Take for example, a manager stepping foot into a plant for updates. A notification could be sent about new safety protocol training. This could include a short video of new procedures to be followed. Even though this manager may have already taken this training, it pushes the key points top of mind. Then when the manager goes for a status update with the plant manager, he can run down this new safety checklist.

10. Use augmented and virtual reality

Flight simulations and new surgical techniques have relied on augmented and virtual reality, but this type of training is being carried over to other industries as well. Not only does it make training more fun, but it’s a way for an employee to walk-through and ask any questions before putting it into actual practice.

Take for example, learning a new piece of equipment on a job site. Augmented reality can be used to walk through how to use that equipment before an employee is actually using it onsite. This can prevent mishaps and offers a more comprehensive approach to training. On the other side, it can also make training exciting. Take for example, employee onboarding. Instead of an onboarding manual, new hires are met with a virtual reality experience. This offers a fun entry into their new job while learning in the process.

11. Build with continuous learning

As training has evolved over time, a lot has been learned. One of those lessons is how to retain more information and actually use this on the job. Accomplish this through continuous learning. It’s one thing for example to offer a compliance course. But this information gets absorbed and then lost over time. But by incorporating continuous learning, employees will learn a subject matter continuously over time. And this process keeps important information top of mind on the job.

12. Incorporate growth coaching

Coaching is not just for executives. Every employee can benefit from coaching and it doesn’t need to be expensive. One of the learning trends for 2020 is growth coaching. This can simply be from utilizing a manager as a coach. So instead of just focusing on meeting department objectives, managers focus on really growing each employee to reach their fullest potential. In fact, a study by LinkedIn Learning found that employees perform better when measured on improvement. So anyway a manager can help facilitate this, the more they will meet goals set by the company.

13. Use employee content

Use employee-led content for another learning push for 2020. Every team member has their own specialty and can teach others about a certain skill. So why not let employees create learning tracks for the company? As an employee can give a lunchtime talk on a certain topic, similarly they can write training in a learning management system. Let employees contribute to content. They can offer insight into how to learn key skills, give personal case studies to drive key points home and can understand how a certain subject can be absorbed.

14. Integrate learning daily

This may seem like a “no brainer, but your training program shouldn’t be separated from day to day business operations. More and more businesses are seeing benefits from tying learning to operations. So for example, you assign five tracks to an employee to take by a set date. This email is lost in their inbox and when they need training in a key skill, they can’t recall where to get this information.

Instead, learning platforms are trending into on-demand resource centers. They need to be easily accessible, available anytime and curated so employees can find exactly what they need when they need it. Think of it as an Internet search for skills. Employees should be able to easily find a topic, take a course and gather those key skills to do their job better in real-time. That way training is another tool to do their job successfully.

15. Increased focus on Gen Z

Much has been said about working with Millennials. And while this generation wants training such as an increased focus on management coaching, a newer generation is emerging with different needs. This is Gen Z. These employees don’t know a world without the Internet so training needs to be more technology-driven in delivery. Create training modules centered around mobile or on-the-go learning.

On the flip side, Gen Z has a harder time with communication skills due to the increased technology over time. So also adding soft skills like how to work as a team or conflict resolution is also important.

16. Spotlight on remote learning

One of the unexpected learning trends for 2020 was the impact of COVID-19. This forced all companies to go 100 percent remote. While many companies are working on plans to head back into the office, some like Twitter are saying companies can now work remote forever. So how does this impact training?

There need to be resources that support remote learning. A great way to do this is through a learning management system. That way files, training modules and teams can all be managed remotely. Assign learning tracks for managers so they can easily see who has completed the training without physically checking in with team members. Plus, training can be taken in various time zones from any device. Better tweaked training overtime will meet the demand of remote teams.

17. Utilize data-driven training

Data can be derived from reports in a learning management system, but there is also an increased focus on using data to initiate training. With increased technology comes more defined data and that can create clearer objectives. So one of the learning trends for 2020 is using data to create training modules.

Use employee surveys and skill assessments

That data can come from two sources. One should be from employee surveys and the other from skill assessments. By undertaking a training needs analysis, managers will clearly understand what skills are lacking for each employee compared to what employees feel is missing from training.  This will deliver meaningful data to bring the needed training to all employees. That way everyone gets the training they both need and want. And in return, the company is stronger for the increase in skill sets across the various departments.

What are your goals for 2020?

The top learning trends for 2020 involve a few overall themes. There will be a continued increase in technology, a push for focusing on individual learning and a broader approach to skill training. We’ve given you 15 great ways to take your training to the next level this year. You certainly don’t need to incorporate all of these trends, but by adding a few of these you will increase your employees’ skills, add value to your company and better meet the goals you set for 2020.

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