Insights and Takeaways from LinkedIn 2020 Workplace Learning Report

I read the forty-five-page report, so you don't have to
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The LinkedIn 2020 Workplace Learning Report is out and as always, it’s full of valuable insights for those who are looking for ways to keep up with the latest trends in learner behavior to effectively upskill and reskill their workforce in these fast-changing times.


2020 Workplace Learning Survey by the Numbers

1. Countries surveyed


  • Two from the North Americas
  • Five from the Asia-Pacific, and
  • Eleven from Europe

2. Number of professionals surveyed


  • 1,675 L&D and HR professionals from organizations that had at least two hundred employees
  • 2,000 workplace learners who self-identified as working for an organization that provides online learning to employees, and
  • 2,392 employees who self-identified as people managers at companies that provided online learning solutions to their organizations

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2020 Workplace Learning Survey Questions

  1. How are learning leaders resourced to scale learning and engage executives to create a culture of learning?
  2. How do L&D pros measure the impact of learning and define learner engagement?
  3. What can talent developers do to transform managers into learning champions?
  4. How are your peers’ upskilling and reskilling employees to prepare for what’s ahead?

The Insights

1. L&D continues to garner both budget and buy-in

  • More money is being earmarked for L&D across the companies
  • There’s an increase in online learning but there’s also an elevated interest in building own content, training, and learning programs
  • There’s a disconnect between executive buy-in and executive championship for learning and development — which is key to drive engagement and to foster a more robust learning culture

The takeaway. Get your executives to spend more time in learning, and if possible, in delivering some learning and development sessions for those down the organizational hierarchy.

An executive-led training session could signal how seriously an organization takes learning and development and help secure buy-in from those who are not particularly receptive to the sudden increase in the organizational learning requirement.

* * *

2. Industry standards for measuring impact and engagement have yet to emerge

  • There’s no uniform standard for measuring learner engagement across organizations
  • Some define/measure engaged learners by the number of courses they complete, while elsewhere, it could be garnered from learner satisfaction surveys or time spent on online learning platforms per month or by the number of visits to such learning platforms in any given month while some doesn’t measure learning engagement at all
  • However, there’s a noticeable focus across organizations (although it differs slightly based on region and country) to evaluate the impact of learning, increase learner engagement, and to enable self-directed learning with online learning solutions

The takeaway. While there exists no standard measurement for learner engagement, course completions are identified as the most common way of measuring learning engagement in most organizations. This is not surprising in a world where online learning is becoming increasingly common. So, it makes sense to adopt course completions as a metric for those who are measuring learner engagement differently.

At the same time, organizations should also incorporate ancillary metrics along with course completion to get a better picture of learner engagement such as satisfaction surveys, time spent learning, and login frequencies to company endorsed learning platforms.


3. Tap managers to drive engagement and create a culture of learning

  • Although they spend more time learning soft skills than the average learner, getting managers into becoming learning champions is still an enigma for most organizations
  • Employee intranet, email campaigns, and using managers and executives to promote learning programs fare much better than putting up a poster on an employee notice board or inviting your workforce to a lunch and learn
  • Tying learning to career growth at all levels of organization could help activate managers, drive engagement, and nurture a culture of learning
  • Employees want learning experiences that are personalized and complementary to their career goals
  • They also tend to invest more time in learning if their efforts are recognized by their managers. Younger learners crave this from their managers more than those in their old age cohorts

The takeaway. Managers and those at the highest rungs of organizational hierarchy is critical in building a strong learning culture in any company. Integrating an element of learning and development into onboarding and performance reviews as well as marketing the flexibility of online learning programs and tying learning to career growth and advancement could help galvanize managers into action.

* * *

4. Digital transformation is catalyzing an upskilling and reskilling revolution

  • There’s a strategic emphasis across all organizations on identifying skill gaps in the workforce and tackling it head-on by upskilling and reskilling the employees to meet shifting demands
  • Due to its evergreen and gets-better-as-one-ages nature, developing soft skills such as leadership and management, creative problem solving and design thinking, and communication skills are given priority over technical skills such as mobile/cloud computing and coding as they have relatively low shelf lives in these quickly evolving technological landscapes of today
  • Talent managers remain optimistic that neither the pandemic nor the lackluster economic performance that’s stemming from the deepest global economic contraction since the Great Depression of the 1930s will impact the learning programs which are underway this year
  • Closing critical skill gaps are a high priority among all talent developers

The takeaway. Closing skill gaps should be given ultra-high priority in the near-term strategic objectives of every talent developer because the failure to do so could hamper future growth of the company, hurt customer experience and satisfaction, dampen product or service quality and delivery, or blunt its ability to innovate in a lean and agile manner.


Final Thoughts

The decade ahead is not going to be anything like the decade past for companies — at least not for those who are overseeing the learning and development components of any organization.

On the one front, we are in the middle of a revolution in terms of how we deliver learning and development for our employees. Meanwhile, elsewhere, we are grappling with a pandemic that’s fundamentally changing how we work, learn, play, and socialize.

But despite these challenges and the uncertainties surrounding the grim realities of today, companies must not lose focus on its commitments to learning and development.

Instead, talent managers must take full advantage of their budgetary allocations and executive buy-in towards creating a culture of learning and development while transforming managers into learning champions so that others may follow.

Holding fast to these principles, being weary of skill gaps, and cultivating a growth mindset could go a long way in keeping the skills of the workforce current in the constantly changing economic landscape of today, tomorrow and the decades to come.


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