How 2020 Has Changed Learning & Development

How 2020 Has Changed Learning & Development
This year 63% organizations view L&D as a strategic function as compared to 24% organizations last year.

How 2020 Has Changed Learning & Development

In a dance reality show, a 5-year-old kid came for an audition. Judges were astonished at her dancing skills. Judges asked who is your guru (instructor). She replied that I don’t have a guru, I learnt from YouTube. The highlight was that she was not the only one.

The next boy joined an online class and learnt dance in 4 months straight. This is what 2020 has done. Even kids can learn a skill like dancing on their own in a virtual environment. You can assess for yourself the future of the Learning & Development (L&D) function.

“2020 was a unique year. It changed how we live, how we work, how we shop, and how we connect with each other. It also changed how we think.”

Work from home is no more a taboo. It has become a business preference. In the same manner, L&D has become one of the strategic drivers to deliver business performance. This year 63% organizations view L&D as a strategic function as compared to 24% organizations last year.

This strategic shift has changed the deliverables as well as the way of working for L&D. Here are some of the most prominent changes in L&D due to pandemic. 


The pandemic brought with itself uncertainty. Uncertainty led to insecurity. People started investing in themselves. Portals like LinkedIn Learning and Coursera observed 3x growth in online self-learning during 2020. People focused on adding new skills in the popular employment skills like project management, machine learning, graphic design, digital marketing, and python programming. The learning function sustained the self-learning momentum by blending organization priorities and people priorities.

Shift of Skills

During the pandemic, a lot of things changed. Organizations started working remotely using digital tools. This needed a new operating skill. The most popular operating skill programs which were driven by organizations included digital fluency, remote working, time management, stress management, mental health. In many cases, organization optimization exercises led to the emergence of multi-skilling as well as reskilling programs.

Performance Coaching

Since many businesses had to change their business models and processes due to the pandemic, Organizations shifted from work hour-driven jobs to outcome-driven jobs. This changed the expectations from the jobholders. Outcome-driven jobs need hand-holding as well as continuous feedback to meet the threshold requirements. Performance coaching emerged as a strategic initiative that significantly contributed to the success of the organizations.

Leadership and Managerial Coaching

Organizations figured out early that managing a remote organization is not possible without competent leaders and managers. Hence, organizations invested in their leaders and managers on how to manage remote teams, how to conduct themselves professionally to ensure delivery, while at the same time avoiding employee burnout.

Long term People Development

During the pandemic, many organizations revisited their business continuity planning. Organizations figured out that resilience, flexibility, adaptability, and ability to step up must be added in the development plans for employees as well as managers. Organizations realized the importance of soft skill programs to develop these skills as part of business routine.

Virtual Delivery

This was one of the most obvious changes for the learning function in 2020. 98% of companies conducted some kind of virtual learning program in 2020, this number was 77% in 2017. Overall there was a 16% shift from instructor-led learning to virtual learning.

The above changes in L&D deliverables and way of working has demanded the learning function to change its DNA by focusing on 4 additional key parameters.

  1. Daily Byte Sized Learning- One of the reasons for this change was that companies were now working in a distributed environment. Companies have started looking for platforms and methods to deliver bite-sized content on a daily basis.
  1. Content Creation Turnaround- Content Creation has always been a core of any learning function. However, the pandemic taught the learning functions that content creation is not enough. Rather, they need to develop competencies to turn around content quickly in this volatile environment.
  1. Mobile-first- In a virtual environment, the learning function not only has to compete with any other internal function but also has to compete with Netflix to ensure engagement and effectiveness. India has 500 million internet users and 80% of them access the internet using mobile devices. That is where work is also moving. This has created a need for learning functions to move to mobile-first.
  1. Business Solutions- When you become a strategic function, the business expects more from you. You need to know business better than anyone else to add value. Learning is no more a content creation or a content delivery job. It is a solutioning job where you are solving business problems by fixing competency gap issues in real-time through skill identification, creating need, coaching, and quick delivery.

2020 has changed L&D for good.


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