Be Less Dory: L&D Focus Areas for 2023

focus on what matters most l&d trends 2023 people development strategy Mar 09, 2023
colourful fish swimming

We all know Dory from Finding Nemo – the fish whose memory continually resets, leaving her distracted by what's going on around her.  Most of us can probably identifiy with her on some level, but Dory’s inability to remember anything means that she is alone, without friends, as those around her grow impatient with constant repetition.

So, what does this have to do with learning and development?

Well, if you’re still using a one-size-fits-all approach to your L&D strategy, you’re not much better than Dory. And while her condition gets lots of laughs in the film, when it comes to developing your people, it's no laughing matter.

Attracting, retaining and engaging talent is essential to drive business growth in 2023 and with ‘quiet quitting’ and ‘The Great Resignation’ hitting the headlines, engaging employees in learning has become even more challenging.

An impending recession, rising inflation and slowing economic growth requires us to prepare for another year of uncertainty in the tourism, hospitality and service industries. We need to ensure that our businesses have people with the right skills and capabilities needed to succeed.

If people can’t learn, they’ll leave

Whilst most employees understand that skills are key to successful performance and career progression, worryingly, many of them believe that the best way for them to develop their skills is to change companies.

So what can be done?

Well, it's a case of 'be less Dory' are our focus areas for 2023:

Focus 1: Attracting & retaining talent

Salary and benefits are no longer enough to attract talent to your business. Job seekers have become more discerning about the businesses they to apply to and accept positions in. To attract talent, you need to communicate that your business grows skills and provides career pathway options for people to advance. Share your goals and development plans with prospective employees. Encourage existing employees to share how learning has helped them in their career. L&D opportunities are also crucial to engagement and retention. The simple fact is that impactful development programmes lead to more active, motivated and productive employees, increasing engagement and retention.

76% of employees say they’d stay at their company longer if they could benefit more from learning and development support

Focus 2: Creating a learning culture

To use another great film analogy, ‘If you build it, they will come’ (or in this case 'they will engage in it') is not enough to develop a learning culture. You have to get buy-in and commitment from key stakeholders. A strong learning culture relies heavily on people managers who understand their role in developing others to achieve their potential. Simply offering various options for development is just one part of the equation; you have to create an enabling environment for people to be at their best.

Focus 3: Enhancing learner engagement
Employees expect flexible learning options; targeted, relevant, personalised options that help them bridge their skills gaps and achieve their learning goals. Enabling behavioural change only happens when learners are engaged and a crucial part of this is finding the optimal mix between virtual, hybrid and in-person learning. After years of 'learning isolation', don't forget that non-traditional ways of learning, such as membership of professional bodies, attendance at conferences and events can provide opportunities for peer learning.

Focus 4: Encouraging a growth mindset

It's about encouraging employees to believe in their own ability, intelligence, and talents. With many employees experiencing stress, pressure and burnout, businesses need to focus on wellbeing as an enabler of learning and with a growth mindset, learners are more likely to engage with programmes and develop the skills the business needs.

Focus 5: Prioritising training topics

  • Communication skills: there’s no denying that the need for digital skills has increased since the pandemic, but soft skills, like communication, are must-have skills for all future leaders.
  • Hybrid Leadership: Leaders have been pulled from pillar to post since the pandemic struck and leading hybrid, split model and full-time office-based teams is tough, as they deal with all types of working arrangements and at the same time have to manage performance effectively.
  • Mental health and wellbeing: nurturing and supporting the mental health and wellbeing of employees, offering training in areas such as stress management, mindfulness and resilience is essential in challenging times. Businesses that encourage wellbeing ambassadors or mental health first aiders who champion positive wellbeing cultures, encouraging difficult conversations and create working environments that value the whole person, have the competitive advantage.
  • Neurodiversity: creating a DEI working environment that benefits everyone, regardless of gender, ethnicity, age or mental and physical ability will continue to be a high priority in 2023. However very few people receive development around neurodiversity which is all about how people see the world and how they interact with the world - how they think, learn, and behave.
  • GenZ: For previous generations, a clear career path with decent pay was enough. Not so for Gen Z (those born between 1997 and 2012.) Gen Z workers want all the above plus flexibility, value alignment, work-life balance, remote working, and flexible leave for a start. By 2025 they will account for 27% of the workforce, so getting to understand their motivations, their attitudes towards work and pay and their hunger for flexibility is vital.



The changes that have swept the world over the past few years are not temporary. Flexibility is a feature, not a fad. Now is not the time to cut training budgets but rather to realise the full potential of any business' greatest asset: its' people. Now more than ever, business outcomes depend on people outcomes.

What are you focusing on in 2023?

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