A new report on the trends and priorities shaping workplace learning and development in 2024 has important messages for those operating in the FMCG and retail sectors, capability development specialists Bridgethorne has advised.
The ‘Workplace Learning and Performance in 2024’ World of Learning Report analyses some of the most prominent learning and workforce research reports published in 2023 to identify key trends and challenges and to provide analysis of what they mean in practice for 2024.
“So many of the businesses we work for in retail are going through transformation this year either through systems, leadership or the way they sell, notably expansion across channels, that learning and development is vital in order to upskill themselves in new ways of working and adapting to change,” says Gina Overton, Director of Bridgethorne.
The report sets out that, although AI was big in 2023, it will be even bigger in 2024.
“FMCG organisations still have the opportunity to gain first mover advantage in how they use AI,” says Gina Overton, Director of Bridgethorne. “We expect to see AI moving from robotics in warehouses into the office, with successful organisations slimming costs and changing work roles, finding ways to utilise employees in different ways to add value.
It may be that it takes retailers a long time to bring in relevant governance and usage plans around AI. There will be lots of tools such as smart merchandising, pricing, forecasting but they will all likely be in the trial/test and learn stage this year.”
When it comes to skills and learning, Overton says Bridgethorne expects to see less focus on knowledge acquisition and awareness building, and more focus instead “on behaviour change, doing things differently, learning transfer, practising, doing, reflecting, failing and trying again.”
The report also mentions the key role that learning, and development has to play in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
“This really extends to diversity in all senses,” continues Overton, “from discussion to action. Companies that embrace successful, respectful diversity will ensure that everyone has access to meaningful work and skills development and retention. This will lead to ways of working that become less formulaic and more individually adapted, meaning the power of the team is key. To bring this to fruition, organisations will need leaders who can lead diversity effectively and employees who can engage effectively across diverse teams.”
Intrinsically linked to this is the importance of employee engagement and retention, and the changing ways in which people are working.
“When it comes to training and capability development, there is growing need to give employees desire and to demonstrate the benefit of them staying in-role. Learning and development is a key answer to this,” adds Overton.Moreover, we live in a world of hybrid working, so making work and roles inclusive for all is important. We have, for example, just seen Morrisons scrapping its four–day working weeks for head office staff following complaints around working on weekends. This could suggest that the pendulum may be swinging back post-pandemic. Businesses need to be monitoring where it will settle between the community of work and home life balance.”