Melbourne Business School News The challenges for learning and development leaders in 2022

The challenges for learning and development leaders in 2022

Organisations are trying to balance the need to attract, retain and look after their people, while also driving significant change.

Workers in hybrid office meeting

Melbourne Business School's latest Insights Report: Trends and challenges in learning and development, 2022 reveals how organisations are responding to changes as the result of the multiplying effects of COVID-19, government regulations, new technologies, strategic initiatives and resourcing requirements generated by shifting market and community demands.

Almost two dozen senior learning and development managers took part in the report, which found that the top three strategic initiatives faced by organisations this year were to: implement strategic projects; undertake business improvement projects; and instigate capability and culture development.

Top strategic initiatives for organisations 2022 

Melbourne Business School Principal Consultant, Learning Insights, Jan Marshall said the results showed the complexity of the challenges that organisations are dealing with in the current environment.

“That complexity is clear in the challenges of managing teams working in hybrid mode and identifying strategic factors to drive growth in a rapidly changing environment in Australia and overseas,” she said.

“Globally, we’ve seen international border closures and a worsening geopolitical situation. Locally, on top of borders opening and closing, we’ve had talent shortages and hybrid working. That’s a lot to be dealing with when businesses want to understand how best to develop their people in a context of growth and recovery from the impact of COVID.”

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Changing leadership attributes

Another key finding of the report was that the nature of leadership has changed dramatically since the COVID-19 pandemic. Respondents listed the most important behaviours and attributes that leaders need for the challenges of hybrid working as:

• Ensuring the well-being of team members
• Determining productivity and performance through outputs not hours
• Creating conditions for work to be undertaken successfully on-site and virtually
• Leading the whole individual (and their circumstances) empathically
• Communicating clearly and more frequently.

Top attributes needed to manage hybrid working  

In line with this, the top skill sets organisations were hoping to acquire through recruitment were resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility, and leadership and social influence. The top skill sets they hoped to build through reskilling or capability development were technology use, monitoring and control, and analytical thinking and innovation.

“It’s increasingly about managing tensions, such as between caring for team members and their needs and well-being, while ensuring their output contributes to growth objectives,” Ms Marshall said.

Another issue organisations were grappling with was how to manage hybrid teams. By the end of 2021, only 53 per cent of organisations had adopted a formal policy for flexible working, while another 42 per cent were still creating one and 5 per cent did not intend to.

However, all the organisations surveyed had chosen to avoid introducing mandatory onsite days. Thirty per cent allowed their staff to be fully flexible and choose to work onsite or virtually, while 70 per cent expected staff to be onsite at least one or more days per week but gave them flexibility in choosing which ones.

Top leadership attributes for managing hybrid working

“Respondents to our survey said effective communication is particularly important with hybrid working because managers need to capture the good ideas and solutions that come from informal conversations that occur naturally onsite site and communicate them to their offsite team members.”

The Insights Report: Trends and challenges in learning and development, 2022 was conducted to help Melbourne Business School understand the latest challenges faced by its clients and partners. Download the full report.

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