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Leadership Development

5 Development Takeaways From LinkedIn's 2018 Workplace Learning Report

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Photo by  Jess Watters on Unsplash

Learning is shifting quickly but here’s how L&D pros can keep up

LinkedIn* recently surveyed 4,000 professionals across organizations–from L&D professionals and executives, to managers and employees–for their views on workplace learning and development.

They identified the following 5 trends learning and leadership trends from the responses: 

  1. The rise of automation and technology shifts training priorities

Talent developers, people mangers, and executives agree: “soft skills” like leadership and communication are high-priority. With the accelerated pace of change, complexity, and volatility in the workplace, role-specific skills have shorter shelf lives and lack staying power.

The report ties this to the rise of automation and technology; while technical skills are important to business success, driving continued success without leaders is a challenge. By teaching leadership, communication, collaboration, and other soft skills, employees are equipped to adapt and respond to changes in business conditions.

What it means to you: Now is the time to double down on leadership training – powerful research proves its worth and your leaders will thank you for it. Take the first step by examining your leadership strategy and how you show the impact of leadership development on your business.


  1. L&D and executive responses show a mismatch in priorities

Today’s challenges and skill needs are a focus for L&D and HR professionals, while executives are concerned about predicting future needs. 

Both concerns are well-founded, as it’s important to develop leaders for in-place and next-place roles. Executives and HR and L&D professionals must find the balance for their organization, resulting in leaders that are equipped for current roles, as well as a bench of ready and able leaders who can assume a next-level role when necessary.

What it means to you: Executive are responsible for the growth and success of your organization; meet them where they are by letting them know you share their concerns about future growth and discuss options to strategically develop your leadership pipeline.

L&D Pros and Executives disagree on priorities 

  1. Digital learning is here to stay

With an increasingly diverse, widespread, multi-generational workforce, learning has an ever-wider list of needs to meet. Employees want to learn at their own pace, at work, and when they need information. 

HR and L&D professionals see digital learning as an opportunity to not only deliver information on-demand, but also to measure the retention and success of learning interventions. Most organizations are looking at digital learning offerings to meet these needs: 90 percent of companies currently offer digital learning according to the report.

What it means to you: Yes, digital learning is here to stay, but it’s not always an easy road to navigate. If you feel like you’re behind the curve of what the 'digital disruption' could mean to your organization, our blog on 10 trends and technologies in digital learning is a good place to start.

  1. Time to learn is scarce, but learning is crucial

Respondents on all levels reported that “getting employees to make time for learning” is the biggest challenge for L&D programs.

Employees have a desire to learn, with 94 of employees reporting that they would stay at an organization longer if it invested in career development. But without extensive time to invest in learning, this requires L&D programs to present employees with offerings that fit into busy schedules and align with business needs and employee interests.

What it means to you: Regardless of how busy you are, conducting a needs assessment is the foundational step to ensuring your leadership training hits the mark and targets the needed skills and competencies.

  1. Managers should actively encourage learning

Going forward, managers are a critical link between employees and training and development programs. Talent developers responded that increasing manager involvement in encouraging development is the second biggest challenge.

The report data shows that 56 percent of employees say they would spend more time learning if their manager suggested a course to improve specific skills. Gaining manager involvement could include having managers suggest development for employees or explicitly supporting employees who want to spend time learning on the job.

What this means to you: It's difficult for managers to see learning opportunities for employees when it may be easier to instruct or do it themselves. Encourage managers to take a coach approach with employees to help them grow.


What Executives Want to See from L&D Professionals

Overall, executives in the report see the benefit of learning and development: 90 percent say it’s a necessary benefit for employees at the company. But they do want to see HR and L&D professionals bring more specific impact to the table. 

To gain buy-in, executives want to see L&D practitioners:

  • Tie learning to business outcomes
  • Help the company overcome business challenges
  • Help improve employee job performance 

Of course, showing the success of programs with concrete measurement is important to gain executive buy-in as well. Being able to show retention of top talent and increased performance metrics will go a long way in demonstrating impact.


*Access LinkedIn's Workplace Learning Report here: https://learning.linkedin.com/resources/workplace-learning-report-2018 

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Rachel Semple

Rachel Semple works across the FlashPoint client journey, from crafting initial proposals to developing and reviewing program deliverables.