Sneak Peek at How to Align Your 2024 L&D Plans with Today’s Biggest Challenges

January 16, 2024 David Witt

More than 1,000 leadership, learning, and talent development professionals participated in Blanchard’s 2024 HR / L&D Trends Survey to identify how today’s dynamic business landscape requires strategic adaptation and planning.

In a complimentary webinar analyzing the results of the 2024 survey and identifying next-step strategies, solutions architects from Blanchard’s Innovation Lab will be sharing strategies for getting started toward that goal.

Here’s a sneak peek at what the Blanchard experts will be covering. Use this link to learn more about the free, upcoming webinar.

Addressing Hiring and Retention with April Hennessey

Finding and retaining good employees is critical. Some 87% of Blanchard’s survey respondents expect hiring in 2024 to continue to be a challenge, even above the elevated levels of 2023. A shortage of qualified and interested candidates and expectations of workplace flexibility, together with compensation and benefit packages that match those offered by competitors, were mentioned. Respondents also reported the importance of executing against the organization’s brand promise. This includes recruitment strategy, messaging, and the hiring process.

Nearly 88% of respondents believe employee retention also will remain a challenge in 2024. Similar to hiring, the retention challenge begins with offering competitive wages and benefits. Next is creating an appealing work environment that provides a culture fit for the people the organization is hoping to retain. This means balancing work expectations, providing flexible work schedules, and ensuring a healthy work-life balance. The third element is providing growth opportunities for employees, both at the individual job level and for their overall career aspirations.

"If employee hiring and retention feels like uncharted territory right now, it’s because it is. COVID destabilized so much about the realities of work and workplace dynamics,” says April Hennessey, Blanchard’s director of strategy and transformation.

“And while we might be shifting from understanding COVID as a pandemic-to-endemic disease, the disruption to our lives hasn’t yet been fully mitigated. So much of what we’re seeing in employee hiring and retention—transient employment, high employee demands and expectations, a kind of chronic fatigue of the workforce, etc.—can be understood in the context of the collective and global trauma of COVID.”

“While we might not all be psychologists or have access to them in our organizations, there are still things we can do to reframe our thinking and creatively solve for issues that seem complex but are simply human."

Maintaining High Levels of Employee Engagement with Lisa Cannata

When asked about some of the ways they are addressing engagement, respondents shared several strategies including open and effective communication, action-oriented surveys and feedback, competitive salaries, ongoing learning opportunities, and a strong organizational culture.

Compensation, benefits, and workplace flexibility provide a foundation for an engaging work environment—but maintaining a high level of engagement requires open communication and involvement, says Blanchard solutions architect Lisa Cannata.

“If you don't have engagement, you aren't going to meet business objectives. You won’t have your team on board to get you to where you need to be. And you'll spend a lot of time course correcting.

“It's important to have engaged people who care, who want to make a difference, and who are paying attention. And I think in a remote world, that is especially important.”

As a manager, caring means engaging the whole person at work, says Cannata.

“I've always thought we should bring our whole selves to work. And I've always believed managers should know everything about their people. In the remote space, that can be a challenge. But we are counting on our managers to create that connection.

“It’s important to remember engagement is a two-way cycle. The leader has to be engaged to get the engagement of others. We need to know our managers and we need to encourage them to know their people.”

Building Leadership Bench Strength with Jeff Cole

In today’s fast-paced business landscape, it is essential to prioritize executive development to remain competitive.

In the recent Blanchard survey, 70% of respondents said executive development will be an important goal for their organization in 2024. And 57% said the focus on executive development increased in their organization in 2023.

“Succession planning has traditionally taken a back seat to other talent management initiatives. With an increasingly global and competitive landscape for high-impact talent, organizations are prioritizing a strong leadership bench,” says Blanchard leadership expert Jeff Cole.

“That means identifying next-generation leadership talent and sharpening leadership competencies that are critical for organizational vitality. This is achieved through sound talent development principles, meeting leaders where they are in their development, providing opportunities for behavioral and competency development through an organizational-specific lens, and considering how the impact of the learning will be captured before, during, and after the learning experiences.

“An overwhelming number of clients focus on timing and delivery modalities, while sound leadership development principles don’t even take a back seat in the car –they are in the trunk or loosely attached to the bumper with dental floss!

“Organizations will enjoy a ‘future-proof’ posture regarding next generation leaders by focusing on high-impact competencies and emotionally intelligent behaviors. For example, the data is clear that leaders who create psychologically safe and inclusive environments inspire greater levels of performance among their employees. Leading with empathy—understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and having the ability to take on another's perspective—also will remain among the top skills high-impact leaders demonstrate. The other critical skill is flexibility—being able to adapt your communication and leadership style according to the development level of others.”

AI and the Evolution of Training Modalities with Britney Cole

The release of generative artificial intelligence (AI) engines has caught the attention of HR/L&D professionals. But are they planning to use it? In our survey, 30% of respondents said they were using AI as a learning tool now, while 46% of those not using AI said they plan to start using it as a learning tool in 2024.

When asked about HR applications for AI, respondents were most interested in using AI to assist in career development by analyzing an employee’s skills and offering suggestions on which skills should be addressed. They were also interested in the potential of AI assisting with performance management by analyzing employee data and providing insights to managers.

Regarding L&D applications, respondents were intrigued about using AI to evaluate learner needs, suggest content or resources, create educational content, and offer chatbots to provide real-time feedback and guidance.

Britney Cole, head of the Blanchard Innovation Lab and Experience Center, suggests using the next few months to have conversations on how AI will influence talent, people, and learning strategies at your organization.

“Use this time to experiment and play,” says Cole. “Get some ground rules in place and don’t be fooled or freak out.

“Explore how generative AI can be used to help curious leaders learn. If you’re the facilitator, you can ask learners to go to one of the popular AI platforms, search for answers, and then share their findings with their classmates. This kind of an activity is a great way to reduce fear around AI.

“Another use case for generative AI is to reduce the time it takes to build content. Often, considerable supporting collateral is needed for a major learning initiative. Consider how L&D professionals could utilize AI for writing emails that inform and excite learners about an upcoming course. Generative AI can be used to create first drafts of emails in seconds, saving developers considerable time that now can be used for other tasks that take advantage of their core skills.

“L&D professionals can also use AI for marketing pieces, outreach efforts, and other communication needs. High-profile learning events have many moving parts, and generative AI can lighten the load. It is a thinking partner that can serve up information and new ways of doing things.”

Measuring Impact with Jim Irvine

In the Blanchard survey, 60% of respondents said demonstrating impact is important for supporting funding or future investment. By measuring the impact of L&D initiatives, organizations can assess the effectiveness of their programs, identify areas for improvement, and make data-informed decisions for the future.

But only 33% of respondents indicated their organization measures business impact.

“I think most people don't measure impact because they don't know what to do or how to do it,” says Jim Irvine, who heads up measurement for Blanchard. “They lack motivation and confidence because there's fear of what they don't know or the fear of the unknown.

“Most people are taught if you don't do a journal-quality study that can be published in a peer-reviewed journal or article, you're not doing measurement.

“What we need to do is break out of that mindset and say: How can I do one level better on the Kirkpatrick model? (The model is: Level 1 Reaction, Level 2 Learning, Level 3 Behavior, and Level 4 Results.) If we’re only doing reactions, how can I add in a learning component efficiently and effectively to tell a better story of impact? If I'm getting at Level 2, how can I simply and easily capture data on behavior change to do one step better on my story of impact?

“Blanchard has developed a method for capturing Levels 3 and 4 in a four-minute survey to participants and their direct reports. We also have one toolkit that does great at Levels 1 and 2 and another toolkit that does great at Levels 3 and 4.”

Irvine, together with the other Blanchard experts mentioned here, will share action steps during the upcoming webinar. Each accelerated section will feature a key strategic takeaway and a recommended resource for follow-up.

Human resource and talent development professionals are encouraged to attend this free event, hosted by Blanchard. Learn more in the section below.


Would you like to learn more about applying effective strategies to your L&D action plan for the coming year? Join us for a free webinar!

L&D Strategies for Navigating the High-Expectation Work Environment

Wednesday January 31, 2024

Blanchard’s 2024 HR / L&D Trends Survey identified the high expectations running across all aspects of today’s work environment. Organizations have high expectations of their employees. Employees have high expectations of their employers. These expectations have put unique pressures on hiring, retention, and engagement—not to mention the stress, fatigue, and burnout symptoms increasing among managers expected to hold it all together.

In this webinar, Blanchard solutions architects will take a multifaceted look at five different focus areas identified in our recent survey. You’ll explore key strategies for dealing with:

  • Addressing Hiring & Retention Challenges
  • Maintaining High Levels of Employee Engagement
  • Building Leadership Bench Strength
  • AI and the Evolution of Training Modalities
  • Measuring Impact

Each speaker will share a key concept and strategies for addressing each challenge, along with suggested follow-up resources. You’ll walk away with new ideas, strategies, and links to next steps. You’ll also have a chance to interact and share experiences with hundreds of leadership, learning, and talent development professionals from around the world.

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore and address some of the most pressing issues in today’s work environment. Register today!

About the Author

David  Witt

David Witt is a Program Director for Blanchard®. He is an award-winning researcher and host of the companies’ monthly webinar series. David has also authored or coauthored articles in Fast Company, Human Resource Development Review, Chief Learning Officer and US Business Review.

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