5 ways to improve learner engagement
Learning needs to align with business performance more than ever; every cost has to be justified as businesses rightly tighten their belts given the current economic uncertainty. For all of us that work in learning, people development or HR – we continue to be judged on KPIs such as LMS usage, course attendance or improving areas such as staff turnover, reducing complaints or increasing diversity – the list is endless.
These KPIS are often used to provide the ROI training strives for but one area that often is perceived as being intangible, or a ‘nice to have’, is learner engagement. How can you improve learner engagement? And more importantly, why focus on it and what impact will it have on your business?
Engaged learners are more motivated, inspired and likely to invest their time into learning. Businesses often want to create a ‘learning culture’; the desire for staff to be emotionally invested in development so those all-important KPI’s are met without you and your team making all training mandatory or spend your week reminding staff of their password to your LMS.
Creating engaged learners continues to challenge Learning and Development (L&D) professionals, according to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report, where the No. 2 focus area for talent development was to ‘increase engagement with learning programmes’.
So to help you, we have outlined our top 5 ways to improve learner engagement:
1. Understand the needs and skills of your learners
Skills gap assessments are useful exercises at the start of your journey. How can you begin a training programme if you don’t have a focus of what it is going to prove, or problem it will solve? Doing this is an effective way to ensure ROI can be achieved from the start. Surveys, behavioural tests (Myers-Briggs) and role play exercises are a great way to do this.
Don’t however work on assumptions. For any skill gaps, be prepared to focus on competency and confidence and pick a theme, such as leadership, commercial acumen, basic finance skills or giving feedback. The most dangerous employees are ones who have high confidence but low competency; confidence will empower them to make decisions, which, more often than not, will be poor ones – due to a lack of competence.
We’ve all worked under bad bosses; who are a prime example of this. Bad leaders tend to not identify their weaknesses so their behaviour pushes their team away, either reducing their engagement or ultimately, losing them to the competition.
Skill gap assessments will also help you identify your ‘hidden stars’ – employees with low confidence but high competence. Doing this at the start will allow you to give them more responsibility and allow them to find a voice.
Training has to be relevant. If skill gaps assessments have been used this makes this task easier. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and training needs to be focused on areas to improve them and also skills that will help with the day job.
Combining skills gaps to assign content to staff that can be proven to help them at work is really powerful. You have a very good chance of disengaging your learners if you only present them with generic learning material that doesn’t appeal to their own aims and objectives. It is also important to think about tailoring learning based on learners’ culture, language and learning preferences to further improve engagement.
3. Market internally
Creating a great learning programme is one part of the puzzle but making your learners aware of it – and senior management – is another. Learner engagement can fall short if your learners aren’t aware of what is available to them and explains how it is relevant to them.
Getting the buy in of senior leaders and using their voice to promote learning through videos, an intranet, emails or even workshops can connect the dots for employees. It shows it isn’t just a task they have to do when they get time, instead, it’s part of a wider business initiative and not just a tick box exercise.
4. Make learning convenient
Convenience is no longer a nice to have. As we all become more tech savvy, employee’s demand learning opportunities anywhere, anytime. If I can binge watch a Netflix series on my phone, why do I have to wait four weeks to attend a course? ‘Just in time learning’- high quality, bite sized video content at the point of need – can be just the ticket.
Content is one thing but focus on how they access it. An effective learning platform should feel modern and should be designed so that everything is 2 or 3 clicks away. You only have one chance at a first impression as they say; the home page of any platform should make you want more.
5. Overcome boredom with an engaging Learning experience Platform (LXP)
Boredom is a catalyst for causing learners to become disengaged. Aim to deliver learning in creative and fun formats. You may have identified serious topics from your skills gap assessment – GDPR, commercial acumen or finance skills – but the learning doesn’t have to be. Humour is a great way to drive engagement. If you laugh at something you are more likely to remember it, if you remember it you are more likely to change your behaviour.
Implementing digital or online learner engagement strategies requires a different approach vs. face-to-face sessions, as they are self-directed and require higher self-motivation. Therefore high quality content is key – if you leaving employees to discover just in time learning, the content has to be appealing enough for them to want to watch it. Try utilising courses with bite size videos, infographics and interactive elements to keep the messages clear and engagement high.
Making sure you have a learning management or experience platform that offers you the ability to create and deliver rich interactive content is key. Platforms like Video Arts Play, have an authoring tool natively built into them to make this process easy for L&D professionals and their learners.
Engagement isn’t a nice to have or something you think about if a training programme isn’t working. Focus on engagement from the outset and link it to skills gaps and watch employees attitudes change.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about our award-winning library of content, full of famous faces, humour and high production values – all delivered on our brand new LXP.