More than 1,000 human resource and learning development professionals participated in Blanchard’s recent trends survey. Survey respondents shared their experiences and plans across a wide range of focus areas.
Three areas that bear watching in the year ahead are the evolution of training modalities, an expanded focus on impact and measurement, and the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Evolution of Training Modalities
Training modalities have continued to evolve. In 2023, 50% of respondents indicated that demand for in-person learning has increased, 25% said demand is staying the same, and 25% claimed demand is shrinking.
Blanchard researchers have been tracking modality data since the start of the pandemic. Before COVID, almost 70% of training happened through in-person delivery. That fell below 20% during 2021 and has been slowly recovering. (See chart below.)
This data suggests that in-person classroom training will continue to see some rebound but come nowhere near its 70% dominance in pre-pandemic data. The past two years indicate a moderating trend among the three modalities, which suggests that all three modalities will be used to a relatively equal extent going forward.
An Expanded Focus on Impact and Measurement
Measurement was a recurring theme in the 2024 survey. In one section, 60% of respondents agreed that demonstrating impact is important or very important in supporting funding for future investment.
When asked about the level of measurement they were currently employing on the four-level Kirkpatrick model (see below for definitions), 33% said they are measuring to Kirkpatrick’s Level 4, Business Impact.
The Kirkpatrick Model ( www.kirkpatrickpartners.com/the-kirkpatrick-model/ )
- Level 1: Reaction—measuring if participants find the training favorable, engaging, and relevant to their jobs.
- Level 2: Learning—measuring if participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence, and commitment based on their participation in the training.
- Level 3: Behavior Change—measuring if participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job.
- Level 4: Business Impact—measuring if targeted impact occurs as a result of the training, support, and accountability package.
When asked to look into the future and identify what type of impact would be best to measure in the years ahead, respondents identified the following:
- Employee engagement and satisfaction metrics
- Learning and development metrics, including completion rates, measurable learning transfer, and benefit to the organization
- Agility metrics, including innovation, technology adoption, and change capability
- Leadership and talent development measures, such as leadership pipeline, succession talent cultivation, and internal promotions
- Business impact measures, such as financial performance, achievement of key strategic goals, and return on investment
Respondents identified the need to move beyond typical measurements of Reaction and Learning to focus more on measures of Behavior Change and Business Impact.
Use of Artificial Intelligence
The release of artificial intelligence (AI) engines has caught the attention of HR/ L&D professionals.
- Some 27% of respondents indicated that AI will impact their HR/ L&D work to a large/ very large extent in 2024.
- Around 30% said they were using AI as a learning tool now, and 91% of current users plan to expand its use in 2024.
- For respondents not currently using AI, 46% said they plan to start using it as a learning tool in 2024.
In terms of HR applications for AI, respondents are most interested in using AI to assist in career development by analyzing an employee's skills and offering suggestions on what skills should be addressed, and in using AI to assist in performance management by analyzing employee data and providing insights to managers.
Regarding learning and development applications for AI, respondents are most interested in using AI to evaluate learner needs, suggest content, create educational content, and provide chatbots that offer real-time feedback and guidance.
In the upcoming year, AI will continue to impact human resource development practices in a wide variety of applications. It remains to be seen how the use of AI in a human resource development capacity will address concerns about bias and discrimination, privacy and data security, and the loss of human judgment.
A Heads-Up Look Forward
The changing business landscape will require an openness to new ideas combined with strategic adaptation and resilience. As always, the human factor remains crucial, with concerns about the delicate balance between transformation and employee well-being always top of mind.
With a heads-up, clear view of new technologies and applications, human resource and learning development professionals can chart a focused path that leads to high levels of performance and satisfaction. To learn more about the trends and predictions for the year ahead, download a free copy of Blanchard’s 2024 HR / L&D Trends report.
About the AuthorMore Content by David Witt