Common L&D Challenges in 2024

Our expert insights and conclusions to L&D challenges in 2024.

The diverse composition, distribution and hybrid nature of today’s workforce is a daily reality for most modern businesses. The impacts of technological breakthroughs and the residual effects of the pandemic have played their part in reshaping the business landscape in recent times. Managing such a transition in prosperous times would prove challenging but in our current tough economic climate the task can appear at best intimidating and at worst impossible.

New look workforces

For the hardest effected the core challenge revolves around a degree of business restructuring and navigating through the fallout of such an action. Invariably this requires upskilling people in potentially unfamiliar roles and even training staff for roles that have previously never existed.

One major byproduct of a restructure is the loss of skills and institutional knowledge. L&D teams need to be able to accurately identify where these skills gaps exist and report back to the business with suggested interventions. Depending on the scale of restructure this task alone could be substantial and tools that help to track individual and departmental competency will help the process immeasurably if you’re lucky enough to have them at your disposal.

L&D teams may also play a crucial role in the change management by providing training to help employees adapt to new ways of working, navigate uncertainties, and embrace organisational changes effectively.

Leadership development regularly appears as a top training need in studies and polls but in the landscape of a restructure it may become imperative. Seasoned leaders may be affected by the changes and L&D teams must prioritise leadership development initiatives to equip both experienced and inexperienced managers with the skills needed to lead their teams through transition periods, maintain morale, and drive performance amidst change.

Onboarding remote workers

The rise of remote working has proved challenging for many businesses and these challenges are further exaggerated when attempting to induct new staff who are employed as remote workers. Addressing the needs of remote and hybrid workforces requires the adaptation of training programs to suit diverse work arrangements and foster collaboration and engagement in virtual environments. Designing and implementing individualised learning paths that cater to various needs require a thoughtful and flexible approach. Notwithstanding effective training and skills development, other considerations might include:

  • Providing a digital welcome
  • Introducing the company culture and values
  • The facilitation of online mentorship or buddying
  • Integrating remote workers socially

Studies have shown that remote workers feel less engaged and connected to their companies which impact on them maintaining high levels of productivity and motivation.

Nearly all (97%) executives said the lack of engagement in a virtual environment is bad for business across the board It can lead to slower skill development among employees, lack of collaboration across teams, and errors or mistakes that slip through the cracks because of a lack of virtual engagements, according to Vyopta. (Vyopta survey results April 2022)

Communication across departments and teams

Most businesses recognise the importance of communicating outwardly to their target audience via slick websites and marketing campaigns, but the same significance and focus does not always extend to inhouse communication. However, every company can benefit from a well-informed workforce that understands the business aims and their part in contributing to success. This applies both up and down the management/employee chain. It also works among employees who are interacting with each other in the company.

Challenges include communicating positively without it becoming a senior management messaging service. Ideally the lines of communication should provide a method to unleash the talents and knowledge which exist internally but without burdening contributors or using a method which stifles expression and free thinking. Collaborative forums and resource sharing facilities can offer an ideal solution to unlocking potential at a peer-to-peer level and beyond. Where possible such an extended communication approach should be integrated within existing software platforms so that it can become a natural extension rather than an entirely new process adoption.

According to Gartner, “A core component of employee experience is how well organizations communicate to their staff. How well employees are informed about their organization affects perceptions, engagement, and how people value their jobs and work relationships.”(Gartner® Market Guide for Employee Communications Applications)

Integrating technologies

More than ever companies are embracing technological change in the pursuit of productivity improvement and ultimately a competitive advantage. Through software, equipment, processes, or products, change is relentlessly driven by early adopters and chased by laggards. But embracing change isn’t the same as adopting change, the first offering access to improvement where the second leverages the full benefits. So, whilst new technology is used to improve known productivity gaps any further benefits can be lost due to a lack of exploration or training. The breadth and depths of technological advances often results in significantly steep learning curves which need time and training and are best tackled by a phased adoption process. After all, the power of technology lays in the hands of the user.

The procurement of systems and technology that most suit an organisation’s needs, often means the solutions come from different vendors. Integrating these systems in a complementing and seamless fashion can be a huge challenge. APIs and other integration protocols can support integration but there may also be conflicts between the technology that need to be negotiated across various providers. This could be resource heavy and may incur unexpected customisation costs, so businesses would be wise to factor this into budgets.

Integrated solutions should also be scalable to accommodate future growth, new functionalities, or changes in business requirements. Customisation to integrate systems may solve short term challenges but they may also inadvertently create future challenges that are not known yet.

AI is coming, are you ready?

It’s hard to quantify quite how substantial the impact of developing AI technology will be. Still, its technology has been making waves across society, with positive benefits but some major concerns. So far, AI has been a trendy term in the L&D world and whilst there has been hype around how it could be used in areas like enhanced content production and curation, automated administration, predictive analytics and so on, its yet to have forged a clear position within mainstream L&D tools and strategy.
All this being said, the signs are that the introduction of AI is an inevitability and notwithstanding the ethical and regulatory challenges, new challenges will be posed to businesses and L&D departments. There may be a temptation and pressure for businesses to get onboard with AI through fear of being left behind. High level decisions may be made to build strategies to include AI, and objectives will be passed on to departments. Those on the receiving end may reasonably ask questions that start with ‘why’ and ’how’ and businesses will need to have answers that clearly articulate the vision, motivation, and benefits.

In many respects, AI output is only as good as the data it can access, and an early challenge is to provide enough quality data for it to contextualise and serve unbiased and representative results that are useful and accurate.

Introducing AI technology into existing tech stacks and infrastructure will also be a challenge. Some tech vendors will likely introduce light touch AI features that are largely contained within the system and have limited impact to the wider infrastructure. However, more impactful enhancements that have a deeper integration may come with an expectation that you will also enhance your tech processing capability and infrastructure to make room for its integration.

Like the introduction of any new technology, there will also be a steep learning curve for businesses to introduce it in a way that it won’t damage customer relationships and employee morale. Employees will be required to grasp AI and use it effectively, and there will be an upskilling and support challenge to ensure all employee demographics across a wide spectrum of skilled and unskilled roles become confident and competent operators of AI.

76% of HR leaders believe that if their organization does not adopt and implement AI solutions, such as generative AI, in the next 12 to 24 months, they will be lagging in organizational success compared to those that do. (Gartner Report 2023)

Securing budgets

Finance teams are analysing budgets and quarterly performance with increasing scrutiny, and department heads are running the gauntlet to obtain the budget required to achieve their targets. As a result, the ability to acquire the budget you need has become a very necessary skill.

L&D budget isn’t as vulnerable as it once was but it’s arguably still one of the first areas reviewed when a cost-cutting exercise is triggered. Its therefore beholden to those trying to retain or increase these funds to articulate its true value to an organisation. To do that requires a thorough understanding of the ROI (return on investment) you deliver both anecdotally and, more importantly, with unequivocal data.

Make it your business to know…

  • Exact training costs across the whole business
  • The cost of non-compliance and an unskilled workforce e.g. the consequence of accidents or failed processes
  • The cost of unfulfilled employees leaving the business and replacing them
  • The opportunity costs i.e. the greater cost to the business if we don’t invest
  • The hidden savings that come from training staff e.g. reduced insurance premiums
  • How departments and business units are using training to achieve their own objectives – you may be surprised what you find out!
  • How to interrogate training data and outcomes effectively

Once you have this thorough understanding, you’ll be able to build a compelling business use cases to support your L&D plans.


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