L&D in 2023 Trends

Dan White
Oct 17 2022 | Insights

Six things to get set for a new year


Watch the video above to see how these leaders have integrated coaching into their organizations by partnering with EZRA.

In September, we hosted learning leaders from Adecco, AstraZeneca, BT, Kraft Heinz, Moody's, Nestle, Spotify, Thomson Reuters, Takeda, UBS and UPS at our global summit in Lisbon. They gave us a sneak peek at their people plans for 2023 – we’ve summarized the highlights so you can hit the ground running when a new year rolls around.

1. Be ready for more hybrid headaches

Back to the office, full remote or somewhere in-between? For lots of organizations, this debate is still alive and kicking in 2022. And with trade-offs at every turn, we can expect it to rumble into 2023, too.

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Navigating the paradoxes of flexible working is an ongoing, unresolved hangover from COVID. It’s a one-size-fits-no-one scenario.

Jo Smith, EZRA

Where some organizations are calling staff back to HQ four days a week, others are happy for teams to work from wherever. Only time will tell which approach (if any) works best – but in the meantime, L&D teams need to keep making plans that work both in-person and online.

2. Mind your 'frozen middle'

For a lot of organizations, middle managers are in a sticky spot. In years gone by, their work was about overseeing projects and tasks. If you were a sales manager, your job was to help the sales team meet new clients and put pitches together.

Now, these roles seem far more strategic – today, mid-level managers are being asked to drive big business change and HR programs. For example, that same sales manager needs to champion diversity, promote positive mental health and spread the organization’s strategy… while they’ve still got all the same day-to-day duties they ever did.

As a result, they’re frozen – stuck still. They’re overburdened, over-busy, and simply unable to meet all these different demands. Any learning they do in 2023 needs to offer space to breathe away from the noise.

3. Move your teams from knowing to doing

When HR and learning teams spot a gap, the knee-jerk reaction right now is to create content: intranet articles, e-learning modules, video training.

It’s created something of a content tsunami in 2022 – there’s just so much stuff to read, watch or listen to within organizations. And besides, for your frozen middle, the issue often isn’t about information. They’ve seen the articles and watched the videos. They know what they should be doing. They just don’t have the time to try.

Behavioural scientists call this the intention-action gap. And luckily, they have plenty of ways L&D teams can help people bridge it. For example, socratic questioning can help someone engage more deeply with a topic by answering and asking questions on it. And the mere-measurement effect shows that just measuring performance improves performance. Yup, we all try harder when we’re being watched.

4. Be prepared for progress to look different

For plenty of younger companies, the only way is up: 70% revenue growth might look like a slow year for some start-ups. But that’s not true of established businesses; Nestle is 156 years old, Takeda is 240. Their stories aren’t stories of relentless growth – if you’ve been around for a century (or two), the figures are bound to dip sooner or later.

And if that happens in 2023, L&D will have a big part to play in helping organizations:

  • define what progress looks like aside from profit – Engagement? Retention? Innovation?

  • spread that agenda far and wide across the organization

  • help people feel valued with development when pay rises or promotions aren’t possible.

5. Be broader (and bolder) in measuring success

In 2022, organizations are collecting more data than ever before. They’re gathering numbers about their people: promotion rates, attrition scores, inclusivity metrics. And they’re gathering numbers about performance: sales figures, customer satisfaction, brand tracking.

With such a sweep of organizational data, can L&D teams connect the dots to see the impact of a particular program? Because one thing’s for sure: it’s time to go deeper than sign-up rates and survey scores…

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Are we tired of tracking engagement scores? Do we now have the ability to go after the metrics that really matter to the business?

Helen Basford, AstraZeneca

And here’s how it could look: one company used data they were already gathering to test the power of coaching. They split a sales team in two randomly – one of the groups went through coaching, the other didn’t – and monitored their usual day-to-day data, like closed deals and new leads. At first, the two groups were on an even keel. But as time went on, the group who’d been through coaching performed 20% better overall.

6. Make learning 'little and often'

With everything we’ve covered in mind – your over-busy frozen middle, the content tsunami, the intention-action gap – the priority for L&D teams in 2023 shouldn’t be spreading knowledge. Instead, focus on helping people engage with that knowledge.

It’ll look different for different organizations, but the leaders we spoke to suggested:

  • sharing hashtags on internal channels to help people discover new ideas

  • getting senior leaders to curate playlists of their favourite learning podcasts

  • using bots to nudge learning – like Donut, which can match mentors to mentees.

These aren’t company-wide events or week-long training programs. They’re small, simple interventions to bring learning into people’s everyday lives, in ways that actually work for them.

What have we missed? Maybe your business is exploring EdTech, or looking into learning analytics. Get in touch – we’d love to know what’s on your mind and ahead of us all in 2023.

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