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ATD Blog

Unconventional Talent Development Trends in 2022

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The pandemic made this past year into a rollercoaster ride. We went from seemingly having the whole thing almost under control to an outbreak of a brand-new variant that caused a new wave of illness and a surge in hospitalizations. This on top of the Great Resignation and supply chain issues delaying everything from corporate swag to building supplies to microchips. Then, one of the largest technology companies in the world pivoted from social media posting to fully immersive 3D environments powered by blockchain technology—hello, metaverse.

Through all this activity, we now have to try to determine what’s ahead in 2022. We need to figure out how to help our fellow employees and our organizations be successful while keeping ourselves grounded.

Examining the emerging trends, focus areas, and movements from the last year can help us determine where to invest our time and energy. There is no learning without reflection, and now is the perfect time to reflect and look forward to trends in the talent development field.

To help others and achieve success for yourself in 2022, focus on these three areas:

1. Engagement, Connection, and Play

We are all tired of social isolation and working through a virtual presentation tool; people are longing to get back together with colleagues, friends, and co-workers. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the best option going into this new year. Instead, we need to find new ways to engage and connect with one another and have fun with our work colleagues.

The opposite of play is not work; instead, it’s depression. People are in situations where work has invaded their homes. They can’t leave their homes, which has caused isolation and loneliness, often leading to negative mental states. These mental states are spawning the Great Resignation—people are yearning to find more than just a paycheck. They want meaning, purpose, and connection with one another in the workplace.

This year, we need to be advocates for making connections that are not analytics driven and bottom-line oriented. What we have learned in 2021 is that a singular, inhumane focus on the bottom line isn’t healthy for individuals or the organization. If people aren’t connected at work, don’t find purpose, and can’t have fun, they will simply leave, as this year has proven.


This doesn’t mean that you have to turn meetings or training programs into a circus—instead, it means that careful, well-thought-out methods of engagement can make your fellow employee’s day brighter, which will help their mental state and the organization.

Several organizations have created digital card games to bring back the social connectedness of “sitting around a table together playing cards.” These have been successful events that combine the fun, engagement, and connectedness of playing together while focusing on a serious work-related subject. The digital card game is a disguise for a role-play activity, but the addition of points and challenges combined with the social construct of playing cards makes it feel more like play and less like work. In fact, one participant said, “This is the most fun I’ve had in weeks.”

2. TikTok Training

If you haven’t heard of Miss Excel, check out this TikTok page. TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app that allows users to create videos on any topic. It was originally used just by teens and pre-teens, but now it’s a fast-growing training platform.

Miss Excel, whose real name is Kat Norton, creates short, engaging learning videos on Excel. Her videos are short because TikTok doesn’t allow videos over 60 seconds. She has nearly 700,000 followers and over 1.4 million likes, not to mention that she then sells courses and has indicated that she’s made as much as six figures in a single day.


What can the talent development community learn from Miss Excel for 2022? Plenty. If you were a nonbeliever of microlearning before, you should be one now. Each video by Miss Excel only hits on one function. It’s short and to the point, and in most cases, she doesn’t even say a word. She just points to an Excel spreadsheet and some words on the screen. Can your training be consumed in 60 seconds? Does it require a huge explanation? Are you cramming too much into the content you develop? Miss Excel uses the videos as a teaser to have people sign up and pay for more in-depth courses. Do you have teasers for your training? Do you have a training funnel that helps people with different levels of knowledge find the content they need?

While the dancing and music give off a less-than-corporate vibes and seem a bit over the top, something is working. People are learning from the videos. And, most likely, when they learn about Excel, they are probably learning it to do their jobs better. Miss Excel is most likely fulfilling a training need that is not being addressed in corporate training or not being addressed in as fun a manner. Maybe the rise in TikTok training stars, like Miss Excel, is linked to the first point in this article—engagement, connection, and play.

3. Upskilling Ourselves

One large emerging trend is upskilling our fellow employees. But one area that is often overlooked is the development of individuals within our field. Who trains those who train others? Who develops the talent development professionals? It’s more important than ever for us to spend some time focusing on our own person growth and development. It’s time to reflect on what is important, strengthen the areas that need improvement, and get out of our comfort zone and move forward. We aren’t going to be able to accomplish this without some effort.

Between developing new programs, deciding what is online and face-to-face, and dealing with uncertainty on a daily basis, we need to find a way to make time for ourselves. This isn’t easy to do, but is it necessary. It seems like an indulgence, but it not—it’s a requirement. Carve out some time each day to make yourself better, join a community of practice or get together with like-minded folks and pick an area that you want to upskill. This may seem like a chore, but having a focused goal and a sense of purpose is important in these crazy times.

The Year Ahead

As we head into 2022, there will continue to be uncertainty, doubt, and fear. It’s natural as the workplace changes, society adjusts to the current situation, and technology continues to evolve. Fortunately, there are things we can do for the field, for our organizations, and for ourselves. If you plan to focus on meaningful connections in meetings and virtual classrooms, creating playfully serious course offerings, and upskilling yourself, you’ll find success in 2022.

About the Author

Karl Kapp, Ed.D. is a professor of instructional design and technology at Commonwealth University, Bloomsburg Campus. He is an internationally recognized expert, consultant, and instructor on the convergence of learning, technology, and business. Follow him on LinkedIn at and email at [email protected].

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