ATD22 recap: Top 3 L&D trends and challenges for 2022

Posted on: June 1, 2022Updated on: April 18, 2024By: Maliyah Bernard

Axonify hit the expo floor in Orlando, Florida for the biggest event dedicated to workplace learning and performance earlier this month. Team members offered expert insights into building frontline skills that boost agility and keep pace with change and how to reinforce the right on-the-job behaviors with microlearning that fits in the flow of work.

The Axonify Team at ATD22

Now that the ATD22 fun is over, Cara North, Circulo Health’s Director of Learning and Development, joined JD Dillon, Axonify’s Chief Learning Architect, for a TL;DR recap on “In The Know” and discussed the top L&D trends and ideas that came out of the mega-conference.

1. Solving today’s problems while preparing for tomorrow

With ongoing rapid change in virtually every industry, it’s easy to prioritize day-to-day demands and fail to look ahead in a meaningful way. Skills gaps are born in these situations where workplaces don’t have the opportunity to challenge their ability to execute. To close the gaps on your own frontline, JD points out that it’s essential to ensure equitable opportunity while continuing to address the daily needs of the people you support.

“A modern learning organization must be able to balance two competing forces—that’s disruption and opportunity. Build the knowledge and skill that people need to be successful as the workplace shifts around them,” he says.

He suggests that by making learning the water of your workplace— that is, to make learning accessible whenever and wherever your learners need it—employees can more easily solve problems on-demand and you can restore your organization’s balance between constant change and possibilities.

“Realign your learning and support tactics so you can solve problems quickly and consistently,” he advises. “Everything begins at the base with shared knowledge and then moves up the framework, so we only deploy heavily structured training as a last resort.”

Bar chart of the Modern Learning Ecosystem Framework showing types of training by increasing levels of structure vs. availability.

Imagine three days of #ATD22 insights condensed to just 25 minutes? We made it happen on In The Know!

2. Holding ourselves accountable when it comes to diversity, equity and inclusion

Some organizations might talk the talk when it comes to DE&I, but do they walk the walk? This is a critical question to consider as those in the learning and development field are integral when it comes to representation and acting as advocates of diversity, inclusion and accessibility. It’s important to take an unflinching look at what your organization is doing to promote these areas, deliver on promises and bring internal values to life.

“Talk can be cheap,” says Cara bluntly. “If we’re saying that this is important then we need to do better as a profession. I think we serve everybody, and we can’t truly do that until everybody’s needs are met.”

Understanding what this kind of support looks like by calling out these barriers when you experience them—like noticing the lack of closed captioning during conference sessions or diversity in speakers, as Cara pointed out—can be a great resource for influencing how you engage and collaborate with others and demonstrate what’s possible.

Cara also advocated for a blended approach to conferences going forward, one that combines in-person and virtual elements, so more people are able to attend in a way that suits their accessibility needs, budgets and health and safety concerns.

3. 2022: The year of L&D

In many organizations, learning and development is beginning to hold a new and significant importance to corporate leadership for the first time. More leaders are thinking about how to get new hires up to speed, fast, and build in cross-skilling opportunities so they can keep the business agile no matter the disruption that comes their way. So there’s added pressure on L&D professionals to figure out how to get it done—and within budget for stakeholders.

“People are thinking, ‘Oh no, we have power, what do we do with it?,” Cara points out.

She muses that this was one of the hottest topics among speakers and attendees at ATD22, and that these common challenges discussed at the event reflect the current state of the profession.

“I made the joke to my partner that in 2020, people actually know what I do for a living,” she laughs. “There were a lot of conversations on budgeting or C-Suite pressure to figure out the future of work. One of my favorite sessions I went to was Brandon Carson’s because I hear a lot from what I’m going to call these ‘futurist people’. Sometimes I agree with them and sometimes I don’t. The thing I’ve always appreciated is that everything Brandon Carson puts out is backed by the fact that he knows what he’s talking about because he’s actually done the work”.

This year’s ATD conference was a great reminder that at the center of everything we do is, and will remain, the people. From the way training content is designed and implemented, to the latest technologies in learning and development, it’s all about adding value to your frontline and your customers—and showing that they’re valued.

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Maliyah Bernard

Maliyah Bernard is an academic writer turned content writer. As a former frontline worker, she loves writing about all the ways organizations can support these essential workers smarter.

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