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Challenging Perceptions in L&D

Natalie Benfell 

September 25, 2019

As an L&D professional, you’ll likely have spent most of your career developing a suitable learning strategy for your organization and its learners. You’ll have used tried and tested methods that you know will engage and educate them.

But how can you be sure that you’re delivering what they truly need and want? Sure, you have the experience, but the modern learner is changing and developing as fast as the iPhone! The truth is, in order to deliver a successful learning strategy, we all need to stop acting on instinct and start acting on hard facts.

In our latest webinar with our sister company, Towards Maturity, we took a look at the findings from our recent white paper, “Challenging Perceptions.” The paper explored ways that learners can weave quality learning into their daily lives.

L&D Challenges


In a 2018 survey, Mind Tools identified three top L&D challenges for Learner Engagement. These are:

The biggest challenge for most learners is time. Many people feel that they just don’t have enough time to dedicate to learning. So, getting people to engage can be a struggle, initially.

This leads us to the second challenge — development is not seen as a priority. If learners can’t see the benefit of learning, why should they take time out of their busy schedules to do it? L&D professionals must be able to demonstrate the value of learning to people upfront.

The third challenge is lack of resources. Many learners believe that the type of learning on offer is not relevant to them. Everyone has different and specific learning needs. So it’s important that organizations provide a wealth of resources that allow each learner to find what they want.

How Can We Improve?

Our white paper also looks at the key areas in which L&D professionals want to achieve better results. These are:

  1. Improving learner engagement.
  2. Increasing self-determined learning.
  3. Facilitating new ways of learning.
  4. Integrating learning into the workflow.

A big area of improvement cited by L&D professionals is helping people to become more engaged with learning at work. But what about the learners themselves? Interestingly, our research uncovered a disconnect between what learners and L&D practitioners feel about learning.

A significant disconnect was discovered between how learners and L&D professionals feel about putting learning into practice quickly. Only 16 percent of L&D professionals believe learners can do this, compared to 70 percent of learners themselves.

The results show that our perceptions are often misaligned with what is actually going on in our workplaces, and the wider market. The trend continues when we look at learners’ efforts as well…

According to our research, 26 percent of L&D professionals say self-directed learning is common practice in their organization. But 86 percent of learners report that they are learning all the time as part of their everyday work. This demonstrates just how much people are willing to engage with learning at work, albeit at a time that suits them. It also shows just how difficult it can be to record the workplace learning that is going on. Just because it’s not documented, it doesn’t mean that it’s not taking place!

How Top Organizations are Winning 

Many organizations face similar struggles implementing learning at work. So, over the past 10 years, Towards Maturity have recorded the habits of top performing companies in L&D to see whether anything can be learnt from their strategies.

Coined as the “Top Deck,” these statistics come from the top-performing 10 percent of Towards Maturity’s data sample.   

The results show the difference between top performing organizations’ approach to learning and that of average organizations. In order to demonstrate where top organizations are thriving, we’ve produced a handy infographic. You can use this to pinpoint focus areas for improvement and share the findings with the rest of your company. Just download your copy, here.

If you’d like to listen to the webinar in full, click here. Alternatively, if you want to access the full research report, you can download our white paper, “Challenging Perceptions,” here.

Are you a top performing organization or does your company have a long way to go? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the Comments section, below!

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