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ATD Blog

2023 Talent Development Trends: The Year of “And”

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The futurist Daniel Burrus once said, “the future is not either/or, it’s AND; it’s both paper and paperless, online and in-person, old media and new media.” This idea sums up what we can expect to see in 2023 in the talent development industry.

As I start the new year, requests for in-person board games, workshops on in-person facilitation skills, and techniques for engaging audiences face-to-face are higher than ever. At the same time, artificial intelligence (AI) tools are taking center stage and concerning academic and talent development colleagues; they are rightfully concerned about the future. Let’s look at a few of these divergent 2023 trends.

AI Invades Development

One unstoppable trend in the talent development industry is the accelerated integration of AI into the design, development, and delivery of instruction. AI will change the talent development field in profound ways. We’re just starting to feel its impact as we’re in the nascent state of this technology.

Let’s look at a few tools. The newly released ChatGPT answers questions related to almost any concept or idea in a coherent, well-organized manner. Type in a question, and ChatGPT creates an answer in essay format that is so accurate and comprehensive it has teachers worried.

Then there are tools like Well Said Labs, which has an incredibly human-like computer-generated voice. Another tool called Descript provides a similarly human-like voice but with the option of recording your voice as well. You provide a script, and the text-to-speech version generated sounds similar to your voice. It also provides AI-driven character generation.

Character generation is another hot AI feature. There are many tools emerging on the market like Hour One, which allows you to create digital humans. D-ID has products convert a photograph to an animation. With the click of a button, you can combine images with audio or text to generate expressions and speech. In the near future, you may not need actors or clip art figures from a virtual library. You will have the capability to artificially generate them on demand.



Nostalgia may seem like an odd workplace trend, especially as organizations gear up for an AI-fueled future. However, nostalgia is part of a larger social trend. Adults have been purchasing toys from their childhoods in increasing numbers and throwback 8-bit games are as popular as when they were first introduced. Advertisers and marketers tap into nostalgia all the time. Organizations are now leveraging the feel-good sentiment of nostalgia as well. The trend is growing, in part, as a backlash against the mind-numbing advancement of technologies within our field.

Nostalgia was also a way to combat feelings of isolation and loneliness during the pandemic and is now being used to entice employees back to the office. Making employees feel nostalgic for past experiences can be an effective tool to bring colleagues back together in a meaningful way.

The trend is manifesting in executive decisions to evoke feelings of camaraderie around the organization’s pre-pandemic workspace and in the purposeful recounting of a particularly memorable day of herculean customer service or reliving the winning steps that made the “impossible deal” possible. Nostalgia is also pervasive in the introductions of 8-bit games into organizations’ training programs and the use of vintage images on safety posters posted in office kitchens.


Evoking workplace nostalgia helps employees build deeper connections and engagement with their organizations. It orients employees toward a shared social goal. In fact, as an article in Harvard Business Review titled “The Surprising Power of Nostalgia at Work” notes, “Studies found that when workers were prompted to reflect on experiences within their organization that made them nostalgic (organizational nostalgia), they subsequently reported a greater sense of meaning at work and lower turnover intentions.”

High-Touch Events

The third trend relates to nostalgia but diverges slightly. It’s a return to or an emphasis on in-person, highly interactive events. This includes creating board and card games covering everything from a patient’s journey in the healthcare field to teaching managers how to think at the enterprise level to assisting new leaders in handling difficult situations. These shared experiences feed into corporate nostalgia and create common shared experiences that lead to higher employee engagement and less turnover.

Additionally, there’s been an uptick in requests for techniques and tips to make in-person, instructor-led experiences more engaging, beyond the use of games and gamification. The desire to create experiences rather than instruction is growing. Organizations want to create shared experiences with people sitting across from one another, interacting and engaging with the content and each other. Organizations want to leverage what online learning cannot—to emphasize relationship building and human connection. High-touch events reinforce corporate culture and bring people together in a frictionless experience where body language, facial expressions, and proximity all contribute to the overall experience.

It looks like 2023 is definitely going to the be the year of “and.”

About the Author

Karl Kapp has a worldwide reputation as one of the pioneers in the gamification of learning and instruction, having literally written the book on the topic. He's making headlines with his newest book, Microlearning: Short and Sweet. Kapp is an expert in the convergence of learning, technology, and business, was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Education in 2017, and is the recipient of the 2019 ATD Individual Contributor Award. He works all over the world helping employers (from Fortune 100 companies to start-up organizations) deliver effective, meaningful instruction using a game-thinking approach. He is a TEDx speaker, an international keynoter, and the author of several LinkedIn Learning courses as well the creator of Zombie Sales Apocalypse and Zombie Instructional Design Apocalypse, popular card games for learning. Follow Karl on Twitter @kkapp..

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Interesting info, Karl. Thanks for sharing.
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Insightful indeed as we engage with companies, businesses, and leaders in 2023 going forward. I believe this trend is not ending soon, we love what we have but also yearn for more and better experiences. A truly 'and 'experience. Thank you Karl.
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