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ATD Blog

Return to Sender: Trends We’re Wishing Away in 2022

Monday, January 24, 2022

As we planned out our latest Talent Brief newsletter issue, we focused on what trends were gaining traction in the talent development field. Examining trends is a useful tool for reflection—they help us see what’s working and what’s not. This allows us to better plan for success in the future. But just because a topic is trendy doesn’t mean it’s changing talent development for the better. Some trends may do more harm than good, whether because they are misleading or because they were never actually evidence based.

We reached out to experts in the field to weigh in on which trends they would like to see go away this year.

Check out their replies below, and sign up for Talent Brief to get more insights like these in your inbox each week:

What L&D trend from 2021 do you hope never makes a comeback, and why?

2021 was not ‘The Great Resignation.’ That’s an oversimplification. Opportunity finally caught up with disengagement. People seized the chance to reshape their relationships with work by going remote, changing jobs, or exploring new career paths. To avoid similar disruption in the future, organizations must adapt talent practices and accelerate internal skill development. L&D must shift stakeholder mindsets and make learning an ongoing part of every person’s job if companies hope to maintain capable workforces.”

JD Dillon, Chief Learning Architect, Axonify

Personalization, in its current form. Yes, there are measurable results with AI-generated bespoke learning experiences. However, most employees would be surprised to know how much of their data is being collected without their knowledge and who has access to it. I firmly believe we need a GDPR when it comes to the triangulation of HR, performance, and L&D data for informed consent to opt-in to personalization.”

Lori Niles-Hoffman, Senior Learning Strategist


In-person training being offered virtually exactly as it was delivered in-person. In 2020, there was a global mass movement to virtual learning. The pandemic forced things to be done quickly and cheaply to get learning up and running. The trend continued in 2021, and emergency virtual training, originally designed as live in-person training, still received no adjustments to ensure engaging and effective learning—resulting in bad learner experiences.”

Myra Roldan, Senior Distributor of Knowledge and Good Vibes

“I would love to see our industry doing less trend-chasing and more deciding what’s important for a particular learning & performance situation. It’s not “what can I do with mobile? AR? or video? Or microlearning? Or performance support or xAPI?” And more about how do I help this set of people accomplish this particular task in better ways? And I really do think that many of us are doing just fine with that.

So much of what we have learned in the last two years now of living with a pandemic is that things change rapidly, we need to be flexible, and learning technology can be an enabler, annoying, and a barrier all at the same time.”


Megan Torrance, Chief Energy Officer, Torrance Learning

"As a result of protest, social unrest and political issues, organizations quickly reacted by implementing DEIB training courses without having a strategic approach that considered Culture, and other components - values, hiring, processes, etc. For organizations to truly implement meaningful change, they will need to replace reactive, “throw it together” methods with thoughtful, holistic DEIB strategies."

Rita Bailey, Founder, Up to Something

What trend would you like to see go away? Let us know in the comments below!

About the Author

Alexandria Clapp is the content manager for Learning Technologies and Sciences at ATD. She’s responsible for creating and curating content including articles, webinars, books, conferences, and more for talent development professionals. She also hosts the ATD Accidental Trainer podcast.

Prior to joining ATD, Alexandria worked at a research and development firm that applied cognitive science to improve learning outcomes. She trained partner organizations to deliver cognitive enhancement programs and specializes in leadership development, learning and memory, instructional design, and virtual coaching. Alexandria is a credentialed ATD Master Trainer and Expert Coach. 

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