Research Digested: 2020 Workplace Learning Report. L&D in a new decade: Taking the strategic long view, LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn Learning report cover


A snapshot of useful research for L&D and workplace professionals

Why read this report

This is the fourth annual LinkedIn report into learning. It includes a lot of statistics (really, there are a lot of statistics) and covers a fair bit of ground, such as L&D’s three biggest challenges for 2020, measuring the impact of learning, AI and how to get executives involved in learning.

About the research

The research involved 1,675 L&D professionals and HR professionals with L&D responsibilities, all of whom have some influence on budget decisions in organisations with 200 plus employees. On top of this, 2,000 learners took part and 2,932 managers. The report also includes behavioural insights that come from the vast number of data points created by more than 675+ LinkedIn million members in over 200 countries.

Standout stats

There are so many figures in this report, however, they need to be read in the context of the survey having been carried out before Covid-19 hit the global stage and lockdown happened. For example, budgets and spend on online learning are likely to have been impacted already and be impacted even more as the fallout of the pandemic becomes more apparent. Here are some of the stats, broken down into categories:


  • 37% of L&D professionals expect their budget to grow this year, compared to 43% last year and 35% in 2018
  • 57% plan to spend more on online learning this year, with 38% planning to spend less on instructor led training

What do L&D professionals spend their time doing?

The research says they spend . . .

  • 29% of it building or sourcing learning programmes and content
  • 17% building and delivering compliance training
  • 16% promoting learning programmes to employees
  • 15% identifying skills gaps
  • 15% spending time with managers to identify learning needs
  • 10% championing learning programmes to executives

Executive buy-in

  • 83% say executive buy-in is not a challenge
  • 55% use executives to encourage learning
  • 27% report that their CEOs actively champion learning
  • 17% say executive buy-in is a challenge

Executives and learning cultures

L&D says closing skills gaps is an urgent business priority for executives for:

  • 27% of small organisations
  • 29% of mid-market organisations
  • 38% enterprises

Percentage of L&D professionals who leverage executives to champion learning:

  • 50% small organisations
  • 51% mid-market organisations
  • 60% enterprises

Measuring the impact of learning

Top 3 strategic priorities of L&D:

  • 38% evaluating the impact of learning
  • 35% increasing learner engagement
  • 35% enabling self-directed learning with online learning solutions
  • 32% tracking skills gaps and development
  • 32% activating managers to encourage employees to make time for learning
  • 29% integrating learning into other talent programmes

How L&D is measuring the impact of online learning:

  • 43% qualitative feedback from employees
  • 38% number of online courses completed
  • 35% number of employees who consistently learn online
  • 34% employee satisfaction
  • 31% qualitative feedback about behavioural change

L&D’s three biggest challenges this year:

  • 49% getting managers to make learning a priority for their teams
  • 42% creating a culture of learning
  • 36% increasing employee engagement in learning
  • 31% teaching their employees to use tech more effectively
  • 26% scaling learning across the organisation
  • 22% understanding what skills to build or courses to recommend
  • 22% making sure that learners know where to find learning resources
  • 21% demonstrating the value of learning
  • 21% identifying skills gaps
  • 17% getting executive buy-in

Final word

Driving learner engagement is a big thing for the L&D sector, but nearly a quarter of professionals don’t measure it. Those that do, focus on these four metrics, in order: course completion, learner satisfaction surveys, minutes of learning per month and repeat visits (2x) per month.

L&D needs to do more work with managers to drive engagement with learning and develop a learning culture. Integrating learning into the rhythm of the business is the most effective way to activate managers.

How do L&D professionals promote learning programmes to activate managers (top three answers)?

  • 43% integrate learning into onboarding
  • 42% market the flexibility of online learning programmes
  • 38% integrate learning into performance reviews

How do managers find out about learning programmes (top three answers)?

  • 32% email promotions
  • 31% when learning is integrated into performance reviews
  • 25% when learning is integrated into onboarding

These are some of the stats in this report, but by no means all of them.

Report reading time: 30 minutes

Media: PDF