What are the top 4 focus areas for L&D in 2023?

LinkedIn's learning expert reveals how to supercharge upskilling in a talent shortage

What are the top 4 focus areas for L&D in 2023?

As HR departments look for the next best “golden hire”, there’s one overriding character trait they should be watching out for: adaptability.

That’s according to Kevin Bishop, principal talent development partner at LinkedIn, who told HRD that for them, having leaders who’re well versed in adaptability is absolutely key this year.

“Our CEO, Ryan Roslansky, has been talking about this a lot lately,” he says. “We’re in a situation right now where leaders are having to make decisions that’ve never been made before. The times have presented new and interesting challenges.”

Based on LinkedIn’s data, skill sets for jobs have changed 25% since 2015, with that figure expected to double by 2027. This means that while some employees are opting to stay in the same role, their jobs are essentially changing beneath them - meaning they have to upskill reskill.

“That’s why agility and adaptability are key,” says Bishop, who will be speaking at HRD’s upcoming Learning & Development Summit.

“Our organizations are going to have to be agile, our people are going to have to be agile, and therefore our leaders are going to have to be adaptable and agile too.”

Upskilling future leaders virtually

The pandemic presented many challenges – sorting the wheat from the chafe where leaders are concerned. And while some agile leaders have thrived through the chaos, identifying and upskilling future C-suiters in remote work is easier said than done. Speaking to Bishop, he believes this has become a core concern for HR departments – but technology is definitely bridging the gap.

“We've learned a lot over the last couple of years about how to interact virtually that can be effective in development opportunities for leaders,” he tells HRD. “Early in their careers, future leaders tend to lean into networking – they like to be in the same physical room together more so than senior leaders do.”

At LinkedIn, they try to bridge that virtually – putting an emphasis on learning through shared experiences. 

“Time zones can be tricky to master,” says Bishop. “It can be difficult to hold synchronous sessions where everyone can join. But again, what we're trying to do is lean into what leaders can do prior to synchronous sessions so that the time in meeting is spent working together and sharing knowledge with one another.

“It's less about teaching them things and more about creating a space for them to learn from one another.”

Development priorities in 2023

If the pandemic taught organizations anything it’s the overarching value of learning and development. Since COVID, employee expectations around L&D have changed – shifting from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to a more personalized, individualized benefit.

Data from LinkedIn identified the top four focus areas for L&D professionals this year:

  1. Aligning learning programs to business goals
  2. Upskilling priorities
  3. Creating a culture of learning
  4. Improving employee retention

“Aligning L&D systems to organizational goals is the number one priority for leaders heading into 2023,” says Bishop. “I think that's a given for a lot of people in the learning sphere – however, we’re often not that great at instigating it. As development professionals, we have to make sure that we're connecting with the business to understand their priorities as a starting point.”

Secondly, upskilling takes centre stage. This, according to Bishop, has only grown in importance over the past couple of years.

“We’re seeing a few organizations, such as LinkedIn, gravitate towards a “skills-first” approach to hiring. Essentially, moving away from relying just on state of experience, or pedigree, or educational background – and instead examining roles and understanding what specific skills are needed. This allows employers to upskill people in the right way.”

Thirdly, it’s creating a culture of learning – something that’s often talked about by leaders but rarely actioned. But, as Bishops tells HRD, this really isn’t a “new” trend.

“However, it’s becoming more important this year,” he prefaces. “Because, as leaders need to become more agile so too to organizations at large. And that’s all about learning - agility is all about facing new and unexpected circumstances and being able to respond appropriately.

“Lastly comes improving employee retention – a huge issue for lots of companies right now. We’re coming out of the great reshuffle or the great resignation, and people are still moving around a lot. As such, organizations are continuing to be confronted with retention worries.”

Learning is HR’s secret weapon here. As Bishop reveals upskilling and development opportunities, or a lack thereof, are a major reason why your people quit.

“Start by prioritizing development,” he tells HRD. “Tying those skills that people are learning into opportunities within the organization. That’ll be critical for organizations in 2023.”

Bishop will be speaking at our upcoming L&D Summit – check out our exiting agenda and book your tickets here.

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