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4 Big Trends Driving Change in Learning & Development in 2024

Learning and development are the cornerstone of a thriving firm culture. If that seems a bit hyperbolic, consider this: LinkedIn Learning's 2022 Workplace Learning Report says “opportunities to learn and grow” is the number one driver of a great work culture. Remarkably, just two years prior, it lingered in ninth place.

This leap in the ranking underscores the seismic shifts occurring in learning and development (L&D). But what’s driving this shift?

Let’s dissect the four major trends propelling this transformation to help you understand the implications for your firm.

Trend 1: A stubbornly uncertain economy

Are we in a recession? Did it already occur, or is it still ahead on the horizon? Even economists can’t agree. In the meantime, firm leaders face the daunting task of charting a course that fosters growth and stability amid uncertainty.

Looking back at the recession of 2008, many firms took the knee-jerk reaction of making across-the-board budget cuts, particularly in areas deemed non-essential, such as learning and development. The profession still feels the effects of this shortsighted measure, which manifests in its talent attraction and retention struggles.

The good news is we’ve learned a lot since 2008, and training is more affordable and accessible than ever before. Amidst the expansion of remote and hybrid work spurred by the pandemic, we have a landscape of virtual learning platforms and tools to deliver engaging and cost-effective online training programs.

However, the challenge isn’t just about delivering training but also about ensuring remote training remains inclusive and accessible to all employees.

Complement centralized training efforts with decentralized initiatives that cater to employees' diverse needs and preferences. Supplementing traditional L&D methods with podcasts, blogs, YouTube videos, and LinkedIn Learning courses enriches the learning experience and empowers individuals to take ownership of their professional development journey.

Trend 2: The next wave of inclusion

The spotlight on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEI&B) continues to shine brighter. We’re now seeing the next wave of inclusion in learning and development: recognition of the experiences of neurodivergent learners — individuals whose unique learning and communication styles diverge from the typical norm. With approximately one in five U.S. adults identifying as neurodivergent, creating inclusive learning environments is essential.

Addressing the needs of neurodivergent learners encompasses a variety of tactics, from offering specialized tools and training to evolving learning objectives and methodologies. Tools that facilitate asynchronous communication and provide multiple modalities for learning activities are essential for accommodating diverse learning styles and preferences. For example, features like chat, forums, video conferencing and customizable learning management system (LMS) dashboards empower learners to engage with content at their own pace.

We can also rethink physical spaces to support neurodivergent employees. Designing workplaces that cater to different learning styles and minimize distractions fosters an environment where all employees feel valued and respected. From designated quiet spaces to flexible seating arrangements and noise-canceling headphones, these accommodations ensure everyone can optimize their contributions to the firm.

Trend 3: Blended learning delivered more efficiently

A blended learning approach is getting more attention as firm leaders seek more efficient and effective learning solutions. By blending traditional methods with innovative digital tools, firms can reimagine learning experiences to meet modern learners' diverse needs and preferences.

One of the hallmarks of this trend is adaptive learning, which tailors content to the individual preferences and performance of each participant. Leveraging artificial intelligence mechanisms, adaptive learning platforms intelligently adapt content delivery, repetition, feedback and content recommendation systems. Organizations can empower employees to upskill or reskill by providing personalized learning paths and tracking their progress.

Microlearning and nano-learning strategies are another facet of blended learning. They focus on delivering content in short, easily digestible segments. Breaking down complex topics into bite-sized modules is more flexible and personalized, catering to learners with short attention spans and diverse learning preferences.

Blended learning can also help employees upskill and reskill to acquire new proficiencies and qualifications to advance in their careers or transition to new roles. Innovative practices such as 360-degree feedback, in-house learning sessions, and creating digital libraries of business knowledge foster continuous learning and skill development.

Asynchronous training is another powerful tool for leveling the learning playing field. It allows employees to access foundational knowledge at their own pace and convenience. For example, you might incorporate asynchronous training assignments as prerequisites to in-person events to maximize your L&D budget.

Trend 4: Technology to drive learning and development

Technology can help drive innovation and transform how employees acquire and apply knowledge. From immersive experiences to interactive gamification, there are many promising possibilities.

One of the most compelling advancements we see is integrating Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) training. VR and AR simulate real-life scenarios, bridging the gap between theory and practice and allowing learners to gain practical experience in a controlled environment.

Cost is a hurdle for many firms, but as these technologies continue to mature and become more accessible, it’s exploring potential partnerships to unlock their full potential.

Gamification leverages game mechanics to enhance L&D engagement and memory retention. Introducing competition, collaboration, and reward elements into the learning experience triggers emotional responses that embed learning into memory. Team-based gamified training fosters cooperation and knowledge-sharing among coworkers, enriching the learning experience and promoting a culture of continuous improvement.

If you’re not sure where to start, partner with your firm’s IT professionals. They possess the expertise and technical ability to identify, implement and optimize L&D technologies and seamlessly integrate them with the firm’s existing systems and workflows.

Reflecting on these four trends shaping the landscape of learning and development, it’s clear that the path forward is paved with innovation, adaptation and strategic foresight. As you look ahead to the next year, consider how to incorporate these trends into your L&D plans and strategies.

By staying agile, proactive and forward-thinking, you can help position your firm for sustainable growth and success in a changing world.


Are you ready to upskill your team and transform your firm?

The Boomer Learning & Development Circle is a peer group of learning and development professionals in the accounting profession who share tools and resources to properly support their firms’ learning and development goals. Apply now to ensure you’re focusing on the right skills, engaging learners and demonstrating value to other firm leaders.


Sandra Wiley, Shareholder, President of Boomer Consulting, Inc., is a leader in the accounting profession with a passion for helping firms grow, adapt and thrive. She is regularly recognized by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her expertise in leadership, management, collaboration, culture building, talent and training.

Sandra’s role at Boomer Consulting, Inc. includes serving as co-director of the Boomer Leadership Academy as well as the Boomer Managing Partner Circle, the Boomer Talent Circle and the Boomer Learning & Development Circle. Her years of experience and influence as a management and strategic planning consultant make her a sought-after resource among the best and brightest firms in the country.


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