Update: Check out our list of 2018 training trends to watch.

It’s January. Prime time for predictions about the corporate training landscape. In 2016, we highlighted shared goals, collaboration, and analytics as topics of interest. This year, instead of telling you what we think the year’s big trends will be, we went straight to the source ‒ you! We polled our audience: “What L&D trends are you watching in 2017?”

2017 Learning and Development Trends to Watch

We asked. You answered. Now, we deliver.

Here’s what’s on your collective radar:

1. Microlearning. Training in bite-sized, easily digestible chunks.
2. Personalization. Make training individualized and contextual ‒ so it sticks.
3. Employee Engagement. Wowed employees are happy employees.
4. Measurable ROI. How impactful is your training program?
5. Marriage of great content + great technology. Deliver awesome content – awesomely.

Now for a deeper dive into each trending topic and what percentage of you picked each topic.

69% Donut Chart

Microlearning: shorter courses and more of them

StatisticBrain.com says our average attention span in 2015 was 8.25 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000, when mobile went mainstream. In addition to having an attention span lower than the average goldfish (Goldie clocks in at 9 seconds), learners are busy.

Delivering training in bite-sized chunks is key. With shorter courses divided into more segments, employees are empowered to learn at their own pace. They gain valuable information with minimal disruption to their workflow.

Adding mobility to microlearning enables users to train anywhere, anytime. And on the go. That autonomy combined with entertaining, informative content helps learners retain knowledge in a simple, easy-to-remember way.

Hungry for more? Check out this post on using microlearning for sales training.

49% Donut Chart

Personalization of training


Personalizing the learning journey for each specific job function ensures that learners get the information they need without wasting valuable time. For example, an inside sales rep requires different knowledge and skills than an outside sales rep. Their personalized training journeys should reflect that.

Learning is contextual. Employees want their training to look and feel like their day-to-day encounters, so they can see exactly how to apply new knowledge and skills situationally. This improves productivity, performance, sales – and therefore, your bottom line.

In addition to personalizing for job function, training should be customized to mirror your organization’s particular values and culture. Keep it conversational and sprinkle some humor around.

Unique, contextualized training that informs and entertains gets a thumbs-up from employees and superior results for your company. Win-win.

33% Donut Chart

Focus on employee engagement

Fact: highly engaged employees are more productive and less likely to job-hop. That’s critical because employee turnover costs big bucks. Some studies suggest replacing a salaried employee costs six to nine months of their annual salary. A CAP Study found that losing a high-level employee can cost up to 213% of their annual salary. Plus, it tanks employee morale.

Churn is bad. So how do you poach-proof valued contributors?

Increased employee engagement is key. If you think another three days of PowerPoint presentations will get your team amped, think again.

Instead, give employees something they will actually look forward to. Innovative, high-tech training ‒ like the media they consume on YouTube and Facebook in their spare time ‒ holds their attention and boosts retention rates.

We’ve found that instilling gamification, interaction and socialization into your training – maybe even virtual reality – boosts employee engagement and job satisfaction.

Smart content fuels discussions as learners compare best practices. They evolve into champions who bolster your organization. Collateral benefit: elevated employee morale.

33% Donut Chart

Measuring training ROI


Increased completion rates are great, but let’s talk about the measurable business impact of training. What’s your training ROI? How does training correlate with and impact key performance indicators?

The general benefits of training are undisputed: greater productivity, improved customer retention, increased sales, higher employee engagement and decreased churn. But are you measuring them?

To measure specific KPIs, identify them before creating your training program. Ensure the metrics are measurable. And integrate a testing function into the program.

27% Donut Chart

 The marriage of great content and great technology

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here to tell you that today’s employees expect training to showcase the marriage of enlightened content and interactive technology. Perk: like many power couples, the two are more effective when combined.

For a hands-on example, look no further than your iPod. The game-changing technology moved the needle on the entire music industry. But without great content, an iPod is merely a well-designed piece of metal with potential.

Imagine lacing up your Adidas and listening to elevator muzak instead of a workout playlist. Spoiler alert: even with superior iPod technology in hand, you won’t shatter your 5-mile PR the day Engelbert Humperdinck replaces Daft Punk.

Don’t just deliver great content. Deliver it in a memorable, relatable way. Edgy modern media captivates employees because they relate to it, so the knowledge and skills they learn will stick.

So, what are you watching?


Let’s bring it full-circle. What other training trends are you watching in 2017? Let us know by commenting below, or give us a shout on Twitter @unboxedtech.

If your organization is on the verge of a growth spurt, custom training can catapult you to the next level. Let’s talk about transformational training solutions: (888) 723-9770

About the Author

Dave Romero is our CPO. His limitless energy and sense of urgency establish our company-wide momentum and commitment to get our clients what they need, when they need it.

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