The world is ever changing and so too are the pressures on organisations and their people. 2023 has offered both challenges and opportunities from a learning and development perspective.

Many businesses are operating in a challenging economic climate while trying to get to grips with some significant changes in the way we use technology. We’ve also seen many organisations struggle with their people management. At the same time, there’s a growing awareness of the importance of workplace culture and skills in supporting business growth and success through learning and development.

So how have these factors played out with employers over the course of the year?

Tackling toxic leadership

Allegations of toxic leadership have been persistent this year, with numerous reports of politicians and corporate executives undermining the morale and productivity of their teams. The consequences of such leadership can be catastrophic for any organisation’s culture and output.

Tackling toxic leadership through learning and development illustrated by a frustrated leader shouting
Photo by krakenimages on Unsplash

We have worked with many HR teams to help implement steps preventing toxic behaviour from taking root. From ensuring first-line managers are trained in vital skills such as interpersonal communication, giving and receiving feedback, motivating others and having tough conversations, to supporting leaders in learning how and when to ‘flex’ their leadership style to suit the circumstances.

HR teams are also well placed to provide leaders with feedback on their behaviour and whether it aligns with their values. Equipping managers with higher levels of emotional intelligence helps them lead by example. This also helps facilitate behavioural change.

Growing demand for leadership skills

Aligned with the need to tackle toxic leadership, we have also seen a growth in demand for leadership skills across the organisation, not just among those in traditional management roles. Employers are recognising the necessity of leadership qualities in all staff members, irrespective of their career aspirations or positions.

Growing demand for leadership skills illustrated by a team of people on a hill
Photo by Hudson Hintze on Unsplash

In a fast-paced and complex business environment, leadership skills are no longer a luxury reserved for those at the helm of a company. They are essential competencies that every employee should possess, regardless of their job role or title.

OnTrack International is working with several major employers who are now extending their leadership training beyond aspiring leaders and managers. There’s a growing acceptance that there are benefits for all employees to exhibit leadership behaviours, including emotional intelligence, resilience, growth mindset, and more. For non-leaders and managers, these skills can help them in all manner of tasks, from client and project management to taking the lead in meetings.

The narrative around leadership is also evolving. It’s no longer about titles but about behaviours and values. From thought leadership to solution-oriented approaches, employees at all levels are being empowered to lead in their respective domains.

Such developments are yielding tangible benefits, including enhanced engagement and retention, better performance, and smoother cross-departmental collaboration – a critical factor for global businesses.

Emerging learning and development technology

The pressure for businesses and their employees to adopt technology and transform digitally is ever-increasing and this year has been no exception. We have seen how artificial intelligence is impacting almost every sector and function.

Robot, Emerging learning and development technology
Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

But with the greater adoption of technology comes the dilemma of how companies can help their people keep up. How do they perform at their best during times of rapid change? How do they adapt to ensure they have the best chance of success?

L&D professionals have been tasked with not only providing access to knowledge but also fostering personal and professional growth in the face of rapid change. Digital technologies are accelerating, and with them, the skills required to stay competitive are also evolving. Yet, amidst this digital revolution, the human element remains paramount.

Training is no longer just about making information available but helping individuals become the best versions of themselves. Through a mixture of live learning, learning content and a learning platform that instils a mindset of curious tenacity, forward thinking L&D executives are helping their people and organisation respond to future challenges and uncertainties.

Combined, we can see the learning and development trends that have shaped 2023 and how organisations and their people have responded. Stay tuned for what trends and predictions we have for 2024.