Navigating the post-COVID-19 landscape has been a challenge for HR teams. With employees unengaged and quitting in their droves, businesses expanding their recruitment to other continents and time zones and the skills gap being declared an ‘emergency’, creating L&D courses and training that sufficiently fulfils employees while simultaneously attracts new talent has left HR departments with a mountain to climb.
So what are the biggest challenges HR teams need to solve? To find out we surveyed 210 HR professionals, from managers all the way to the C-Suite, across the UK and the US. These respondents were based in the US and the UK, and worked for businesses with at least 250 employees all the way up the largest enterprises with over 25,000. Here’s what we discovered:
Employee engagement is a key L&D challenge
The COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of remote/hybrid working helped tip the balance of power in favor of employees – leaving it up to employers to keep their workers satisfied. Our research indicates that L&D is a key front in the push to engage employees, with 80% of respondents highlighting this as their number 1 challenge for 2023.
Along with creating an engagement gap, the pandemic has also highlighted the need for improved collaboration, with developing a collaborative learning environment the second biggest priority among respondents (77%).
Still, other challenges cited by HR leaders also pertain strongly to engagement. Over half (53%) of our HR respondents are aiming to improve the appraisal process in 2023, perhaps with a view to keeping employees engaged by giving them clearer feedback, goals and objectives.
The skills gap isn’t just another buzzword
We’ve been talking about the skills gap for years now, and while the term has been ever-present in business circles since the turn of the millennium, particular emphasis has been placed on it in the aftermath of the pandemic and the acceleration of digital transformation.
Rather than solely digital skills, improving soft skills and emotional intelligence – traits such as communication, teamwork and leadership – is mission critical for 72% of our respondents. This is closely followed by the more general challenge of closing the skills gap (69%).
HR leaders want to utilize data – and replace outdated technology
HR teams are joining other departments in taking advantage data to help drive decision making. Utilizing analytics to improve L&D decisions is a key challenge for over half (55%) of our respondents.
Similarly, there’s a push to update legacy technologies, with replacing legacy processes and systems with new tech and apps a challenge for 54% of our HR leaders.
A lot of time is being spent on course creation
Reducing the time it takes to create a course may have been the least selected option but it still got over a third of votes (41%). To dig into this deeper, we asked our respondents how much time they spend creating courses, and the answers give us a clearer picture on why this is a priority for many HR leaders.
43% of respondents spend between 1-2 weeks on course creation, while only 27% spent less time than this – from 30 minutes to one full day. More concerning is the other end of the spectrum – the remaining 30% spent as long as between 1 and 6 months creating courses.
What’s being done to overcome these challenges?
When asked how they intend to overcome these obstacles, improving engagement is a core theme. Engaging learners by developing more creative, personalized content is the key initiative for almost a third of voters (73%). Creating a strong learning culture came in second with 67%, while upskilling and reskilling was selected by over half of our respondents (54%).
Gaining perspective and accurate information to make further L&D decisions is an important initiative for HR leaders going forward. 51% of respondents are looking to measure the impact of their L&D programs and improve ROI.
HR leaders are also looking to tweak their L&D by shifting to decentralized learning – where individual departments rather than the organization as a whole oversee training – and gamifying the learning experience. These efforts fit in with the overarching goal of creating more personalized content to engage learners.
Access the State of Learning & Development research report
For more detailed insights into the current state of L&D, including more statistics on skills gaps, the popularity of different learning methods and the priorities of HR leaders moving forward, download the full report here.
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