Hello, we’re HowNow.

We’re a team of food-lovers, film buffs, tech geeks, dancers, divers, book worms and lots more. We’re good at different things but that’s cool because we’re growing together.

We’re on a mission to make meaningful learning a part of
everyday work.

Join our team
Flashback to when Leo won his first Oscar, Pokemon GO was a thing and when we started HowNow. These three phenomenons are completely unconnected but they did happen in the same year.

The story of how we started HowNow isn’t
straight-forward enough to sum up into a few lines and we believe is movie-worthy (although we might be biased). If it ever got made, the log line for the movie would read: a group of unlikely heroes come together to embark on a mission to make meaningful learning a part of everyday work and defeat the clunky LMS.

‍The moral of the movie would be better learning builds a better world. Coming soon to a screen near you.

Meet the humans behind the tech.

They can try cloning our features, but they can’t clone our people.
Nelson Sivalingam
Co-founder & CEO
Kuvera Sivalingam
Co-founder & COO
Ashish Kumar
Co-founder & CTO
Chris Chesterman
Head of Sales
Gloria Reina Sillero
Content Partnerships Manager
Lulu Dermeche
Head of Customer Success
Pauline Taylor
Head of People
Sam Lawton
Head of Customer Experience
Nitish Anand
ROR Developer
Priyank Mishra
UX/UI Designer
Girish Hardwani
Frontend Developer
Saurabh Narayankar
Frontend Developer
Prathamesh Patil
Frontend Developer
Rhys Hickman
Financial Controller
Harvey Stead
SDR Manager
Shyam Shankar
Head of Product
Vishal Singh
Ruby on Rails Developer
Viraj Chheda
Ruby on Rails Developer
Vikas Tiwari
Product Manager
Udaypratap Singh
Frontend Developer
Tanmay Joshi
Ruby on Rails Developer
Ashish Singh
Senior Ruby on Rails Developer
Sufiyan Siddique
Ruby on Rails Developer
Swathi Uppadi
Product Manager
Ashish Soundalkar
Senior Product Designer
Sonia Kaur Sandhu
Implementation Lead
Siddhesh Dalvi
Ruby on Rails Developer
Shruti Wadhe
Software Test Engineer
Ashish Vishwakarma
Ruby on Rails Developer
Saptaswa Sarkar
Ruby on Rails Developer
Saurabh Manwani
Senior Product Manager
Sainath Chorghe
Frontend Developer
Muhammed Salman Shamsi
Senior Front-end Developer
Ryan Collier
Customer Support Executive
Roshni Gosavi
Software Test Engineer
Rianna Lindsay-Smith
Customer Success Manager
Rohan Chavan
Software Test Engineer
Remi Taiwo
Content Partnerships Executive
Aliraza Lakhani
Ruby on Rails Developer
Omkar Nilapwar
UI/UX Designer
Rahul Gupta
Ruby on Rails Developer
Pavithra Basavnthraya
Software Test Engineer
Pallavi Moon
Software Test Engineer
Nikhil Mendonca
Senior Front-end Developer
Nida Khan
Software Test Engineer
Nicole Flaherty
Senior Customer Success Manager
Naaz Sameja
People Operations Coordinator
Luis Goncalves
Technical Solutions Consultant
Matthew Heard
Account Executive
Jonny Horgan
Customer Success Manager
Kunal Gala
Head of Engineering
Kumy Veluppillai
Senior Demand Generation Manager
Jigar Panchal
Ruby on Rails Developer
Sourabh Kankekar
Software Test Engineer
Jessica Allen
Senior Demand Generation Manager
James Adie
Senior Account Manager
Hozefa Kherodawala
Software Test Engineer
Hardik Jain
Backend Team Lead
Grace Harvey
Customer Success Manager
Gary Stringer
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Emily Mills
Account Executive
Eloise Laot
Account Executive
Dom Blossom
Senior Talent Partner
Bhushan Sasane
Ruby on Rails Developer
Avi Watwani
Ruby on Rails Developer
Alfie Gardner
Product Marketing Manager
Ruby on Rails Developer
Akhil Vutukuri
Senior Software Test Engineer
Akshay Arun Dhobale
Backend Team Lead
Aaron-Spencer C
Customer Support Operations Manager

Join our team

We believe it takes great people to make a great product. That’s why we hire not only the perfect professional fits, but people who embody our company values.
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Our seven core
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We are
customer obsessed.

Obsess over customer problems and strive to make them successful.

We do the right thing.

Be honest, transparent and act with integrity, even when no one is watching.

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Empower, support, challenge, appreciate and care about each other.

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Be proactive, take ownership, get involved and make your actions count.

We enjoy the ride.

Have fun, give joy, practice gratitude, celebrate wins and laugh.

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It’s not easy being an L&D team right now!

We’re typically trying to deliver for a lot of people, sometimes with limited resources but almost always with a lot of pressure to help the business and its people grow.

A lot of the time, we don’t help ourselves. We plough our limited time and resources into activities and tactics that won’t help us do any of the above.

But if we’re going to deliver impact, we need to get past the things that stop us from driving impact and understand where companies go wrong with learning and development.

This post takes you through the most common kinds of L&D waste so that you can avoid falling into the same traps.

1. We’re often guilty of underestimating the pace of change

The world is changing faster than ever and we often underestimate the pace of that change and how much it’ll disrupt our business. 

This means we don’t learn fast enough to keep pace and the risk of our skills and knowledge becoming obsolete increases - which opens the door to competitors and disruptors in our space.

Think about the contrasting fortunes of Blockbuster and Netflix. Blockbuster was an established brand with so much more data on viewing habits and customer behaviour. 

But they were simply focused on scaling their existing model, rather than understanding changing customer needs and the evolving digital landscape. 

Their failure to learn fast and keep up with the pace of change opened the door to Netflix and the rest is history.

2. We fall into the trap of solving problems that don’t exist

Many L&D teams are operating like a failing startup, building a product the customer doesn't actually want or need based on assumptions they've made without asking the customer or digging into the problem.

Failing startups invest a tonne of resources, spend months building a product without ever testing it, and six months later, they launch. 

Only for their customer to tell them they don’t need it, they’re not going to use it, and it's really not that great. 

They end up back at the drawing board with a lot of wasted resources.

And that's not that dissimilar to L&D teams who fail to speak with their customers, spend months building or buying courses, and launch them, only to get feedback that it’s not solving a problem and people aren’t engaging with it. 

3. Which feeds into creating solutions before defining the problem to be solved

L&D teams are often under pressure to show output and impact, and it can rush us into creating before we really define those problems.

There’s a misconception that when my manager or the business asks me what I’ve been doing, I need to show them something. 

So we steam headfirst into creating a tangible thing we can show them, even if that tangible thing doesn’t solve a business challenge. 

And that's actually making the problem worse because the company thinks you're not adding any value. So, they’re either going to cut your budget or push your budget.

So, when you think about the ability to drive long-term impact, this is one of the things L&D teams in many companies get wrong.

4. Creating content without considering the context of where it’ll be used or the skills it needs to build

When we create content first, we ignore the context in which it’s going to be delivered and consumed. And it’s how we end up sending the wrong content to the wrong person at the wrong times and for the wrong reasons.

To our employees, it feels like an irrelevant and unwanted interruption, and we find ourselves with little to no engagement in learning. 

People don't see the value it offers them because we didn't start by understanding their motivation, their context, the problems to be solved or skills we’re trying to build. 

Instead, we started with someone asking us for a particular piece of content or the mindset that more content would be the answer. 

But we're living in a post-content world where content is cheap and abundant.

And when content is cheap and abundant, the biggest challenge is discovery - how do I find useful and relevant content that solves problems?


5. Failing to centralise resources (and adding friction to the learner experience)

That content discovery issue is only made worse by scattered resources. 

In too many companies, resources are stored in too many places, meaning people can’t find them when they have problems to solve. And we can’t influence their performance.

This is why almost a third of employees are waiting days or longer for vital information! When they search, they can’t find what they’re looking for - so they have to ask and wait for an answer.

And if they wait, it prevents them from learning when they’re most motivated to solve a problem and when solving that problem can have impact.

6. And lastly, we’re using vanity metrics to measure success

Business impact is the golden goose for L&D. But with the way we’re currently measuring learning impact, we’d be lucky to get our hands on a single feather.

According to LinkedIn, 6 of L&D’s top 12 success measures are vanity metrics and they make up the entirety of the top 5. In simple terms, L&D teams are still relying on course completion, the number of courses taken and employee satisfaction to demonstrate success.

When the way we measure success isn’t tied to business outcomes and performance, we’ll never know if we influenced it! And that’s how we would demonstrate L&D impact…

How can companies stop going wrong with learning and development?

If we’ve learned a few things from this post, it’s that problem discovery is paramount, context and change have to be factored into what we create, and we’re limited by scattered resources and vanity metrics.

And if that’s what a bad learning strategy looks like, how do we build the opposite to drive impact through development?

We’ve put together a free, six-step bootcamp for doing just that.

What The Fluff gives you the skills, frameworks and proven tactics to break down your L&D strategy and rebuild it for impact. 

Sign up free and start building your winning L&D strategy today

Where Companies Go Wrong With Learning And Development: 6 Pitfalls To Avoid

L&D teams, this is what you're getting wrong! This post takes you through the most common kinds of L&D waste so that you can avoid falling into the same traps...
Jun 28
5 min read

Say hello to your six-step, self-paced course for a winning L&D strategy 👋

If you’re struggling to show impact, battling to get buy-in or exhausted by a lack of L&D engagement, you’ll love What The Fluff!

Over four years, we've worked with innovative L&D teams, interviewed hundreds of industry experts, researched what learners really think, and even written the book on Learning at Speed.

This bootcamp combines the best of that to break down your L&D strategy and rebuild it for impact.

Get the skills, frameworks and proven tactics for L&D success completely free 👇

Sign up for What The Fluff today

What’s in the course?

Build a strategy from start to finish with video lessons, frameworks and templates.

Taking you from effective problem discovery to a strategy and learning experiences that solve those problems for L&D impact.

Plus, we’ll cover building a tech stack, closing your skills gaps, and collecting feedback for future impact.

What The Fluff gives you the the skills, frameworks and proven tactics for L&D success, sign up today!

Who will I hear from?

👋 Nelson Sivalingam: HowNow CEO and Co-Founder, Author of Learning at Speed.

👋 Pauline Taylor: Our Head of People, with two decades of HR and L&D experience.

👋 Nicole Flaherty: Has worked with global L&D teams for over seven years as a Senior Customer Success Manager.

👋 Gary Stringer: Host of the L&D Disrupt Podcast and Senior Content Marketing Manager.

What will I get when I sign up?

The tried and tested playbook:
Giving you the skills and confidence to drive impact within your organisation.

Move at your own pace: With our online self-paced model, you can make progress whenever you feel most productive.

Learn by doing: Get the practical templates and tools to define and document your L&D strategy – putting principles from our video lessons into practice.

Your journey to L&D impact starts here 👉 Register for What The Fluff

Get rid of fluff, start driving L&D impact. Enrol for the WTF bootcamp today.

What The Fluff Is Now Live! The Bootcamp Built For L&D Impact

January 29, 2024
5 min read

2024’s looking like a big year for HR pros!

You ready? If not, it’s time to get ready because…

😞 People have lost faith in performance reviews.

🤷 HR teams have built hiring skills for the last 12 months, but we’re now in a talent shortage.

📈 Engagement’s high, but it’s not what it seems, and career conversations don’t happen enough (but more of them isn’t the answer either).

Oh, and to top it off, we’ve got a cost of living crisis that really needs a human touch, empathy and a healthy dose of HR magic.

Good news? These are all solvable problems, and this deep dive into 2024 HR trends will give you all the context to go away and work it all out in your business.

Free Guide: Download the 2024 L&D Trends Report

1. HR to harness the power of employee engagement to reduce stress, quiet quitting and turnover levels.

Our employee engagement score is on the rise 🥳 job done, right? 

Not quite!

It’s an easy pitfall for companies to fall into, and one the latest Gallup State of the Global Workplace Report could have the whole industry slipping into if we’re not careful - hence why it’s here as a HR trend for 2024.

23% of employees were engaged at work, the highest level since they started measuring it in 2009.

However, employee engagement is like that duck gliding across the water.

Everything looks calm, but below the surface, a struggle is definitely at play…

The struggle: Engagement’s high but so is stress and desire to quit

If we stop at engagement, we can give ourselves a nice big pat on the back.

But we don’t solve the other problems affecting our people. 

And if you’re reading these 2024 HR trends, you’re probably looking to go beyond the bare minimum!

  • 44% of employees surveyed said they’d felt stress A LOT during the previous day. Equal with 2021’s peak, and before 2020 (43%), that number had never gone into the 40s.
  • 59% describe themselves as quiet quitting, with 23% thriving and 18% loudly quitting.
  • More than half (51%) of employees expressed some level of intent to leave their job.

The big lesson here is that engagement isn’t happiness.

Engagement isn’t productivity.

It isn’t even enough to get people to stick around.

The best business and HR leaders understand the nuances and differences between these things and are really intentional about what each one means.

The good news: Engagement does influence these other things

There is a correlation between engagement and all these other metrics! 

As you’ll see below, when engagement is high, things like stress and desire to quit are less likely to be present.

This is all about reframing engagement from the only metric that matters to something that works with other workplace factors to create a better experience and drive employee retention.

Engagement influences employees in other ways. (Source: Gallup).

Take these three actions today and get on right side of this 2024 HR trend 

1. Start with your quiet quitters

Gallup make a few interesting recommendations in their report, and one is that these quitters offer a quick-win for productivity gains.

Look at some of the reasons people quiet quit. Lack of purpose, lack of stimulation, lack of opportunities to grow - these are all solvable things.

And given half of employees sit in this category, this offers the fastest route to moving more people to the engaged column.

We asked Pauline Taylor, HowNow's Head of People, for her thoughts on tackling quiet quitting:

"Quiet quitting is just a new word for lack of engagement. This can be attributed to poor management and not understanding your people's engagement drivers - which might typically look like..."

1) Clarity of expectations with the what, why, and when are important but giving people autonomy on the 'how'.
2) Opportunities to learn and grow - that could be with new skills or tasks/projects.
3) Feeling cared about - It's no surprise that people are motivated to go the extra mile for those who show them gratitude, praise, and support.
4) Lastly - they must see what they do has a strong connection/correlation to the organisation's mission or purpose.

2. Enable your managers! So much of this comes back to them

70% of team engagement is attributable to the manager, but if they’re stressed, quiet quitting or lacking the tools to address employee concerns, we’re not going anywhere.

Check in with them!

What’s influencing their engagement, stress and desire to leave? 

And what are they lacking when it comes to dealing with employees in all these areas?

With every HR trend for 2024, take a wider view beyond the employee - these issues might also be impacting your leaders, C-Suite, CEOs and investors.

It’s easy to end up with a narrow view of leadership development but we all have skills gaps, things we never learned and struggles we face every day.

3. Listen to your people (or start with these general responses)

When asked what would improve their job, 41% of Gallup’s respondents said engagement or company culture, and there were some interesting themes in their recommendations of how to crack that nut.

Recognition for contributions, more autonomy in how they worked, learning more, doing less repetitive work, and fairness/respect were the top level responses.

These might even be a great starting point for you to survey your people and understand where you are right now.

2. HR skill building to shift away from recruitment and towards employee development/upskilling

Let’s face it, in a world where there are six open roles for every qualified person, the harsh truth is…

🤯 You can’t fill every skill gap by hiring external talent.

Buying or borrowing talent is becoming increasingly more difficult, hence the shift we’re seeing towards upskilling, internal mobility and looking more at skills needed than job roles to be filled.

The trouble is, nobody seems to have told the HR departments and people looking to upskill themselves.

The top 7 surging skills for workplace and human resources were dominated by recruitment and hiring, according to Udemy’s 2023 Workplace Learning Trends Report 👇

In plain terms, what HR professionals spent the past year learning seems to be at odds with the latest data and one of the biggest 2024 HR trends. 

HR pros might need to shift their focus away from hiring skills. (Source: Udemy)

We’re in a talent shortage, meaning we simply don’t have enough skilled humans to fill our roles.

A lack of skills makes it harder to meet customer demands, execute our strategies and get the work done to reach our goals.

Winning the talent war isn’t about bringing in all the skills you need (time-consuming and expensive), it’s about helping people build the skills that matter in the shortest amount of time (cost-effective, engages employees and sustainable).

So, before you take another course on talent spotting or recruitment, think about the internal talent that could fill skills gaps and recruiting the right skills to reach your goals, not just the job titles you think you need.

3. Career conversations and development opportunities need to be more regular and available

Let’s caveat this by saying there are a lot of things organisations are doing really well to support people right now.

A recent survey of 1,000 UK employees by Lattice and YouGov showed that more than a third of employees have access to flexible working, mental health support and flexible time off.

This was arguably on HR trends lists for the past few years and big credit to people teams for delivering what their people needed.

Companies are nailing the flexibility and employee support benefits. (Source: Lattice)

But if you’re looking for signs of career development and growth conversations, strap in! 

👇 We’ve got a long scroll to the very bottom of the list.

Propping up these 14 factors are professional development budgets, career growth plans and regular growth conversations - with 15% or less response rate in each.

But career development is right at the bottom. (Source: Lattice).

Why on earth is this happening? And how can we tackle this HR trend head on?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s a flawed perception of why people stick with companies

  • 78% of companies have lost talent because of a lack of growth opportunities (Aptitude Research).
  • 45% of employees told Glassdoor a lack of growth opportunities was the top reason for a lack of job satisfaction.

There are things that make a company a nicer place to work, and there are things that fundamentally make people’s day-to-day job more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Right now, it seems the benefits offering leans too far one way…and there’s one way to fix it 👇

4. While we’re at it let’s revamp performance management and reviews (making them our secret sauce for trust and engagement)

This 2024 HR trend can be summed up in 32 words:

“Only 1 in 3 employees say the performance management review helps them perform better… And employees who have confidence in their performance management review process have much higher trust in their organisations” - Betterworks: 2023 Global HR Research Report: The State of Performance Enablement

The faith in the performance management and review system has been shattered.

And we really are looking at rubble here:

  • 37% of workers said performance management is an outright failure in their company.
  • And 64% view their performance review process as always or sometimes a waste.

But when something gets taken apart, we can rebuild it! And create employee experiences that truly work.

And this is why we’re including it in our 2024 HR trends - this is a huge chance to drive real change from both a process and performance perspective.

More impact, here we go 🚀

This is how performance management should be done now

Performance management is about gearing employees towards adding maximum value, and the review process should set the foundation for how we get there.

People can create all the flywheel graphics and fancy flow charts they want, but in a world that’s changing fast, you’re better of having these five simple, universal questions:

1. What does success look like for our team and company?

2. How does our employee contribute to that goal every day?

3. Which skills and knowledge would they need to do that?

4. Do they have it, and to what extent?

5. How are we measuring progress towards those skills and goals?

Not only are these questions gearing our conversations towards impact…

They’re creating consistency and transparency, and that’s currently undermining people’s trust in the whole damn process.

😰 Only 1 in 3 employees view their performance reviews process as fair and equitable! 

But when they do perceive it as fair, productivity and engagement are both higher, meaning this 2024 HR trend can make a huge difference to your culture.

Fair performance reviews are crucial. (Source: Betterworks)

In addition to this, feelings of belonging are up to 60 percentage points higher when people see their reviews as fair and equitable.

Shall we pop in more check-ins! No, hold your horses…

Fancy another HR pitfall you might be falling into?

Doing more of something isn’t useful unless we set the foundations and give people the right skills for it to work.

If people don’t feel like you have a good feedback culture, more feedback surveys isn’t the answer… yet. 

We need to give people the skill of providing clear and constructive feedback, as well as being open to receiving feedback and processing it effectively.

And in a world where people have lost faith in performance reviews, more of the same is more of the stuff people hate.

The solution for this HR trend lies in enabling managers for 2024 and beyond, and here’s where they need help:

Enable managers, drive better performance reviews. (Source: Betterworks).

5. Supporting people through the cost of living crisis (and what comes next)

The only certain thing over the past five years is that more uncertainty is on the way.

If you look back on any of the HR trends lists for the past half decade, you’ll spot the theme that continues into 2024.

Between Brexit, COVID-19 and the cost of living crisis, it’s impossible for the conditions of the outside world not to influence how we’re feeling and performing at our companies.

The CIPD explain this 2024 HR trend in their Good Work Index 2023: Survey report:

“Notions of ‘good work’ in 2023 have been shaped by the events of the last five years… which have seen inflation hit record levels. Businesses and institutions have had to try and find a way forward in a world where uncertainty has become endemic.”

The latest in that list of challenges, the cost of living crisis, offers another opportunity for companies and their HR teams to put their people first.

And there is a precedent, 78% felt their company responded to COVID appropriately, while 80% feeling leadership were proactive in actions to protect them.

Where do employees need cost of living support?

  • Just under half (48%) said they were meeting bills and commitments without any difficulties, meaning more than half are experiencing some issues.
  • 16% were signalling severe social distress, with 12% saying it was a constant struggle.
  • 3% of workers said they were falling behind with some bills and commitments, and 1% said they were having real financial problems.

Some of those percentages might seem small, but “nearly one in six in serious difficulties translates into more than 5 million people in work.” - which is a significant figure.

If you read the full report, you’ll also find that groups of people are affected more severely - like those in lower-income households.

HR trends lists tend to be statistic-heavy, leaning into percentages, so this is your reminder to try and think in human number terms and the context of who is affected.

A percentage is easier to digest, but it’s certainly not the full picture.

How can HR teams help?

There won’t be one silver bullet! In fact, the best thing is try and open up a conversation about how much your people are struggling and where they need support.

However, here are a few suggestions:

  • Flexibility around office days and times: If a lot of people are commuting, this might help them cut down the days they’re paying fares or travel outside peak hours.
  • Offer food and drink on the days people do come in: Whether that’s snacks or providing a meal, this is one way to save an expense for people.
  • Help those with childcare: If being more flexible allows people to save on childcare costs, look into how you can support that.
  • Review your benefits package: A cost-of-living crisis really means we should cut the fluff. Is what you’re offering right for the context? Free cinema tickets might have appealed when you launched them five years ago but could that be swapped out for something more helpful…
  • Launch and improve mental health support: We might not be able to solve the problem but we can support the symptoms. A solid mental health support scheme can provide people with an outlet to discuss or work through financial stresses.

Rounding up these five 2024 HR trends and actions you can start taking today.

Let’s recap these top five 2024 HR trends and give you the gist of where good action starts and strong improvements follow. 

1. Harness the true power of engagement: Go beyond the surface level of looking at how many people are engaged, bringing in the likes of stress and desire to quit to build a better picture.

2. Build the skill of upskilling others: In a talent shortage, we can’t hire our way to closing skills gap. HR teams can help by thinking in terms of skills needed, not just roles to be filled.

3. Workplaces need to provide balance between nice-to-have and makes-my-life-better benefits: Lots of workplaces are offering flexibility and strong time-off policies, but career growth is lagging far behind.

4. Make performance reviews fairer and more impactful: People have lost trust in their performance reviews and it’s linked to a desire to do meaningful work - bring the two together and you’ll retain people who are genuinely driving impact.

5. Support people through the cost-of-living crisis: In such a difficult time, it’s inevitable that personal struggles blend into our professional lives, and our employers can make a big difference with their support. Reconsider how you view and support work-life balance for the current context.

HR Trends 2024: Make These Changes, Drive More Impact

Learning And Development
September 11, 2023
5 min read

2024 could be a make or break year for learning and development (L&D) and people teams.

⚖️ We’re keen to drive business impact but we’re not aligning with goals.

🤔 We’re concerned about budgets but don’t know our current spend.

🤖 AI still dominates conversations but needs to move beyond gimmicks.

Oh, and we’ve got tech stacks that limit learners, classic challenges like time or engagement, and a need for clearer career paths.

These 2024 L&D trends are all based on the latest reports and research.

And the steps outlined here will make sure you’re on the right side of all this over the next 12 months and beyond.

Free Guide: Download the 2024 L&D Trends Report

1. L&D teams to realign with organisational goals in 2024

What happens when our aspirations meet reality?

Some pretty disappointed L&D pros!

Despite all the chatter around aligning to business goals, L&D teams are in a worse position than they were just a few years ago.

“Compared with two years ago, L&D strategy is less aligned with organisational and people priorities (67% agree in 2023 versus 77% in 2021) and leaders are less likely to recognise the impact that L&D has on those priorities (67% versus 81%).” - CIPD.

The Learning at work 2023 Survey also showed clarity in how L&D delivers business value has diminished, hence why it made it onto our list of 2024 L&D trends.

L&D teams are less aligned to organisational goals. (Source: CIPD)

A move away from vanity metrics might help, here’s why

A wise man (our CEO, Nelson Sivalingam) once wrote that if what you’re measuring doesn’t tell you how it improved performance, skills, or knowledge then change what you’re measuring!

🔥 And LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report dumped a whole of vanity-metric fuel on that fire.

Half of what we’re measuring for L&D success falls into the vanity category.

Half of L&D's metrics fall into the vanity category. (Source: LinkedIn).

That’s not to say there’s no value in metrics like satisfaction with employee training and learning content or how they performed in post-learning quizzes.

It’s to say that the business will be far more interested in how that learning translates to performance and progression towards business goals.

Here’s a five-step process to better alignment and problem solving:

2. Budgets aren’t on the chopping block but L&D needs a better handle on them!

It’s fitting that at such a financially uncertain time, L&D is sending some seriously mixed messages around budgeting!

🤷 We’ve got people who don’t know how much they spend.

🚀 People who expect their spending power to stay the same or increase.

📉 And economic struggles influencing how much we’ve got in real terms.

And yet almost half of L&D pros don’t know how much they spend

According to the CIPD, 46% of L&D pros “still do not have a handle on how much they spend per employee in the organisation.”

The report provides some interesting context about where this is coming from:

  • 53% feel their workload has increased, so it might be that they’re swamped!
  • Practitioners reported a decrease in external suppliers, so that shift might be behind the lack of clarity.
  • A quarter say their reliance on in-house expertise has increased, which is more difficulty to put a price to.
  • Close to a third say their increased workload had a negative impact on their physical and mental wellbeing - so it could be that they’re struggling.

The positive? They don’t feel their funding will decrease

The same CIPD report showed that 69% of respondents had seen their learning/training and development budget increase or stay the same (24% net increase and 45% stayed the same), while just 20% had seen a decline and the remaining 11% were unsure. 

That confidence is supported by LinkedIn research showing that 41% expected to have more spending power, lower than last year but the third-highest response in the past seven years.

L&D pros don't expect huge reduction of budgets. (Source: LinkedIn).

It’s an economic downturn, so how much is our budget really worth?

A recent Mind Tools report offered a brilliant insight into how much is spent per employees alongside the impact of recent economic struggles on that amount:

“In 2017, organisations were spending £681 per employee on learning and development. In 2020, when the index dropped, organisations were spending £639.

“Today, the budget per employee is around £705, but, in real terms, L&D teams are working with a lot less (around £131 per employee) than they were seven years ago.”

Organisational L&D spend per employee dropped in 2020 and increased in 2023, yet L&D teams are actually working with less than they were in 2017 - in real terms.

The answer: Understand current spend/budget, gear it towards impact 

There are three obvious steps to take here:

1. Audit how much you’re currently spending on L&D (collectively and as individuals).

2. See how that compares to overall L&D budget.

3. Try to ascertain how much of that spend is driving impact.

This will give you a sense but it’s what you do next that matters!

Build a commercial mindset and combine that with better organisational alignment 

“I think it's really important as an L&D professional, if you want to be a strategic business partner, to develop your own business acumen.

"Being able to think and speak the language of a business person is as important as being an expert in your field.” - Danielle Dziurun.

The goal is to gain insight into the financial side of the company; where is it profitable? Which areas offer growth opportunities?

We often talk about the ROI for L&D, and knowing how the business makes money will help!

Especially if we properly diagnose the paint points when people come to us with learning requests:

1. What’s the real root cause of the problem?
2. What’s stopping you getting there?
3. What financial implications does that have?

Understand those three things and learning isn’t only solving problems, it’s contributing to the bottom line.

3. Tech stacks are still too messy making knowledge hard to find (and L&D can remove the pain)

Is it fair for people to wait days for information they need?

If they’ve time-travelled back to the 1950s, maybe.

But in 2023, when the world is changing faster than ever, the answer is a firm no.

Sadly, that’s the case for almost A THIRD (29%) of employees.

Strap in because that’s just one of several worrying numbers in Appspaces’ 2023 Workplace experience trends & insights report.

The Learner-Tech Dilemma: Tools are adding too much friction

➡️ If the information is scattered in multiple places, it’s hard to find when you need it.

➡️➡️ If you can’t find it, you have to ask and wait for a reply.

➡️➡️➡️ If you have to wait, the moment of need has passed by the time you get it.

That’s how easy it is to build friction into the search for knowledge, damaging the perception of learning and the likelihood people will do it again.

And it’s stemming from a couple of key problems: Consistency in the tools we use and perception of the tech stack’s value overall.

🤯 67% of people “aren’t completely satisfied with their company’s current workplace tools and technologies, and they experience challenges with available solutions.”

35% think we should reduce the number of apps and tools needed to do their work.

Just look at the numbers below, the biggest employee challenges come from a lack of centralised tools and a failure for those tools to integrate with each other.

We're held back by inconsistent tools that fail to integrate. (Source: Appspace).

Create a central place for knowledge: start by mapping your tech stack

If we can bring everything to the end of a single search, people will search.

If we incorporate more of the tools people use everyday, they’re more likely to apply information.

🚀 This one is not going in the rocket science column.

Your first step? Mapping out your current tools and tech stack

“From an L&D perspective, it’s super important to have sight of what sits where within your organisation’s digital landscape because your learning ecosystem lives across multiple platforms - not just the ones designed for learning.”- Danielle Dziurun.

Danielle hit the nail on the head, it’s not just tools designed for learning - like your LMS or learning platform - that people use for learning. There’s a whole ecosystem!

Our goal should be to speak with people and understand where they go now when they have a problem?

This chat should also highlight the blockers they face when finding information.

If we can audit our tech stack and map that out too, we can visualise which tools fail to connect or duplicate the same things and therefore add friction.

Use more of the tools people already love and use

If there’s a tool that you’re trying to drive top-down adoption for but people organically use something else, consider that as you build a central home for learning.

Just look at the graph below, people are sharing information through Slack, social media and word of mouth!

L&D teams should harness existing tools. (Source: Appspace)

Our goal should be to tap into existing behaviours as much as we can to drive learning and knowledge sharing.

According to Mind Tools, “Social networking sites like YouTube, LinkedIn and WhatsApp consistently took the lead as the most popular platforms for learning at work”

If people are already engaged in those places, we can improve access to learning resources and, as Mind Tools word it, “make them more proactive learners… more willing to experiment and take risks.”

4. The AI chatter won’t stop, and L&D teams need to be more intentional around how and where they use it.

If you look at the number of Google searches for AI Learning, AI Content and all the variations in between…

📈 They all look like this!

The pace is not slowing down, L&D teams are more and more curious about how AI can help them.

However, at some point on that graph, we’re going to hit a key moment:

When the AI movement shifts from gimmicks to intentionality.

L&D needs to stop using AI for the sake of it, and start using it to solve real problems

Just because you can use something, doesn’t mean you should…

Yes we can use AI to create more content, but what if our people don’t need more content.

And this needs us nicely to the crux of the issue.

💡 If you don’t get the fundamentals right, AI will just scale your problems.

"If your team is lacking the right skills, and you don’t have the right strategy, using AI will just exacerbate all of your flaws. So you can create more problems rather than solving problems.” – Filip Lam.

We need the principles of identifying problems, delivering solutions and defining what outcomes or success look like to be in place.

That way, we know what activities drive impact.

And then we can say, well, I don’t have the skills or capacity for that part, could AI help?

Whether that’s by allowing us to be more data driven if we lack that skill or deliver personalised learning where we lack capacity.

5. L&D needs to solve the classic problems: I don’t have time and our people aren’t engaged are still roadblocks

Historians reckon the oldest example of writing dates back to Ancient Mesopotamia in 3400 B.C., and you know what that clay tablet said?

🤯 People don’t have enough time to learn.

Not really, but it might as well have.

The oldest barrier to learning is somehow STILL making its way into research on L&D challenges.

Alongside another classic, the lack of learner engagement…

Why are time and engagement still such huge barriers to learning?

The CIPD Learning at work 2023 Survey is the bearer of bad news on this occasion.

The report names time and engagement as the two biggest blockers for L&D in supporting organisational and people goals.

And it seems the biggest reason is a lack of support or buy-in from the right people, typically those higher up the organisational food chain.

Time is still a big learning barrier (yes, seriously). (Source: CIPD)

⏳ Time is an issue because most companies aren’t bringing relevant learning to the flow of work.

If you encounter an issue and you can find relevant information that helps you solve the problem, it doesn’t take long to learn and apply it for better performance.

👎 The lack of engagement often happens because L&D teams prioritise content.

They create, distribute and are often surprised when nobody engages with it - despite it being the wrong content at the wrong moments.

If it’s not immediately relevant, it feels like an unwanted interruption.

L&D teams should be focusing on problems to be solved and skills needed to reach goals.

We won’t repeat what we discussed in trend one but this really comes back to diagnosing problems, understanding where friction exists and building relationships.

The good news is that CIPD’s research shows positive movement in this direction:

“There has been an increase in the number of L&D professionals who are proactive in understanding a performance issue before recommending a solution (57% in 2023, versus 32% in 2021.”

Ultimately, there’s a company-wide mindset shift that needs to happen too…

❌ Learning isn’t something done at set times and disconnected from the workflow.

✅ It happens in the flow of work, in moments that matter, to help improve performance.

And if that’s happening, those engagement struggles should soon become a distant memory.

6. Clear career paths are needed and L&D can pave the way.

People want to stay at companies, IF there’s fair pay and opportunities for growth!

While 22% of employees said they were vulnerable to poaching in 2022, only 9% said they were in this boat in 2023.

And Betterworks’ 2023 Global HR Research Report revealed a few other interesting insights into what keeps people at their companies.

Pay, culture and flexibility were high on the list, but career goals and purpose saw the highest-growth on 2022 numbers - jumping by 15%!

Development saw the most growth in employee priorities. (Source: Betterworks)

And this theme was evident throughout the report! Here are two numbers on the same lines:

  • Three in four employees would prefer to advance at their current company.
  • While 61% cited pay and benefits as a key reason to stay, 41% named career growth.

So, people want to stick around and grow - all good news, right?

Not quite, because their expectations aren’t currently being met when it comes to growth, upskilling and reskilling.

People want progression paths, they’re just not getting them

Employees aren’t getting the access to the career paths and conversations they’d need to fulfill this ambition.

Only 48% see a path for advancement in their current company.

And only 46% feel supported in their career aspirations.

Betterwork’s findings are supported by A recent survey of 1,000 UK employees by Lattice and YouGov 

The report uncovered what’s needed for businesses to take better care of their workforce and look at the bottom three - lack of development opportunities, pathways and conversations are the lowest on the list.

Career growth and development aren't frequently offered. (Source: Lattice).

The irony is that we’re in a talent shortage, meaning it’s becoming increasingly more difficult for companies to plug skills gaps with external talent.

So if companies are going to harness people’s desire to stay and grow, and tie that to performance objectives, they need to rethink the current approach to employee development.

Rounding up these six 2024 L&D trends with actions you can start taking today

Here’s a quick recap of these six 2024 L&D trends with the key things you’ll need to remember and act upon for an impact-filled year.

  1. L&D teams need to align more closely with business goals: Which starts with better problem discovery and measuring more than vanity metrics.
  2. We need to get a handle on our budgets: Lots of L&D teams don’t fear budget cuts but plenty also don’t understand how much they currently spend - which needs to change in 2024.
  3. We need to remove friction for our people: Right now, they spend too long looking for information and feel the number of tools used by their company is a big part of the problem.
  4. AI and L&D has never been a more popular buzzword: But harnessing its power means moving beyond gimmicks in 2024 and using it intentionally.
  5. Old challenges keep popping up: The bread and butter challenges of time and engagement are still present in lots of research and need to be tackled once and for all.
  6. Current career paths aren’t clear enough: Which is a shame because people have never been more willing to stay and grow at a company.

L&D Trends 2024: 6 Big Problems You’ll Need To Solve

Learning And Development
September 11, 2023
5 min read
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