Trends in corporate training for 2021

This year, corporate training has gone through massive changes as part of wider, overarching initiatives in digital transformation. Many of these changes, for companies and employees alike, have been brought on by the “new normal” in times of COVID, which is forecasting much more remote work and collaboration in 2021.

We’ve identified 10 of the most notable trends right now in corporate training to paint a picture of what companies will be focusing on moving forward.

1. Upskilling and reskilling

Upskilling and reskilling will continue to take on larger and larger roles in the near future. Upskilling refers to the process by which professionals acquire new skills in their field. It allows them to update their role in the company and compete with the skills people might have who are currently entering the workforce. Reskilling relates to the training an employee receives to improve and reapply the skills they already have in order to open up new roles that would have been previously inaccessible to them.

In 2020, both processes were used extensively in companies from all industries. However, in 2021, organizations are expected to further look towards upskilling to encourage internal employee movement. 

Reskilling is also very important for professionals who want to be an active part of their company’s digital transformation and the ever-changing nature of the work environment. But the reality is that many companies have been forced to adopt one or both of these processes due to the arrival and extended stay of COVID.

2. Versatile e-learning platforms

During the “new normal” brought on by COVID-19, companies have come to realize just how important it is to have an online training platform that meets the needs of their staff. These platforms should be able to adapt to the evolving needs of companies, so the most relevant of the possible features they can include are:

  • Multiple languages: this option provides the ability to train a greater number of employees, even if they speak different languages.
  • Cloud-based systems: the only thing students need to access their training is an internet connection.
  • Multi-device availability: allows users greater flexibility to decide where and when they want to use the training platform.
  • Multi-LMS integrability: companies demand integrated and innovative platforms.

3. Support data

In 2021, that which cannot be measured does not exist. Companies need training data in order to determine what’s working and what’s not. In the everlasting search for formats and initiatives that promote active participation and user engagement, this data yields revealing results.

Corporate training is chock full of data — from the more basic:  participation hours, platform recommendation rates, and completed courses; to the more in-depth: evaluation tools that make monitoring and implementing the process easier, such as the Kirkpatrick model.

In short, as ROI on training continues to grow, companies will come to rely more heavily on evaluation, which, in turn, increases the long-term quality of the training.

4. Gamification as a driving factor

Despite cuts in face-to-face training budgets, companies have increased investments in their HR and Learning & Development departments to place more focus on online training formats. 

In 2021, a greater presence of gamified elements is expected, primarily because they have been proven to:

With gamification, employees feel more engaged in what they’re doing and receive encouragement in a fun, safe environment.

5. Moving online 

100% face-to-face training has been steadily moving online for some time. This is driven by the constant advancement and development of new technologies that make the training process easier; and many of these advancements, such as game-based learning, simply yield better results than face-to-face training.

Online training will continue to be a useful tool, especially in the “new normal,” and it will allow companies to improve their training results.

Additionally, online onboarding, which has been the only viable option for many companies during the pandemic, will be a key piece moving forward. Onboarding online gives organizations the ability to welcome professionals into the company culture with innovative strategies and gamified elements that get employees engaged from the outset.

6. Emphasizing the employee experience

Talent retention is one of the constant challenges facing companies today, so many organizations will be paying extra close attention to the work environment and company culture they’re presenting to the world.

Professionals have increasingly high expectations and expect to find inclusive, fun workplaces that are full of advancement opportunities, even while working from home. 

But how does the “new normal” affect the employee experience?

According to McKinsey & Company, in the United States, the flexibility that telecommuting provides has increased employee engagement and overall well-being. However, 80% of professionals say that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting them materially.

In response to this, HR departments are expected to conduct emotional checklists to check on employees and make sure they have the tools and skills necessary to manage change. During this process, utilizing learning pathways can be very useful.

7. The rise of instructional design and authoring tools 

Now that countless people are utilizing online training alternatives, many companies are left wondering how to design quality training courses to effectively reach their students.

This is where authoring tools come in, as they encourage instructional design and thorough planning for the most important parts of user learning. 

In 2021, simply because they make it easier to increase engagement, create content, and reduce dropout rates in training, expect a rise in the use of these tools and approaches.

8. Microlearning for all

Because users are now able to train continuously (assuming they have access to a device and the internet), microlearning is a great way to ensure that they are, little by little, improving in the areas that are important to them.

Professionals no longer have to invest long hours back-to-back in their training. Now, they can enjoy multiple formats for quick and easy consumption whenever they want: videos, comics, online readings, etc.

9. User-generated content

Many companies already have user-generated content that can be reused or adapted. This has led to greater interest in creating internal courses that are truly tailor-made and customized.

Authoring tools are what give companies the opportunity to boil down their training objectives and create content that cuts to the heart of what they need to teach. With this democratization of training, any professional who has basic technical know-how and is able to capably use an authoring tool will be able to generate their own fresh training content in or outside their company. 

10. Even more cybersecurity

To put it simply, telework has exposed professionals to cyberattacks. According to Google’s Panoramic study of Cybersecurity in Spain (name translated from Spanish),

“60% of European SMEs that are victims of network attacks go under within six months of the incident, often weighed down by the average cost of the attack, which is usually around 35,000 euros.”

In an attempt to curb the negative impacts we’re likely to keep seeing, many companies are modifying their privacy policies to give their staff more autonomy to be responsible internet users through investments in security software and continuous training.

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