A learning platform is a great investment and an important part of driving growth and development for your organisation. But as hard as it is to hear, it won’t deliver L&D outcomes on its own.
Research shows that engagement is what helps people learn and retain more. And at Video Arts, we’ve found it’s the number one driver of learning outcomes within any organisation we’ve worked with over the last four+ decades.
However, we’ve also found that improving learner engagement is even more helpful right now, when more people are learning from home, isolated from their teams (or just about any social interaction at all).
So, to get more out of your learning platform, that’s what you’ll want to focus on. Here’s what we’ve seen have the greatest impact with the companies we’ve worked with. Check out some of our video case studies here if you want to dig into the details.
1. Make learning more relevant
Only approximately 1% of a typical work week (24 minutes) is available for employees to spend on learning. You need to make sure that what’s being taught during those moments is not only compelling (and likely to spark further engagement) but also relevant to your business. Relevant material that actually helps employees is not only more likely to keep them coming back, it delivers value to your business during those learning moments.
Something to keep in mind is the importance of soft skills to your L&D programme. While it’s easy to see the relevancy of hard or technical skills, soft skills are equally (if not more) important to the success of your employees and organisation. Providing training on customer service, how to handle complaints, or best practices for performance reviews are all critical components of how many people spend their day-to-day work life, and are rarely topics that get addressed in constructive ways. A good soft skills training programme can have a major impact on productivity and personal development.
The importance of timing
Even relevant material can lose its edge if poorly timed. Trying to roll out a new training programme during a busy period, or delivering customer service training right before someone is about to go on holiday (and not put the advice into practice for two-weeks) can all undermine engagement and retention. Learning needs to be easy to access and delivered when it’s actually useful. Learning is most engaging when the right topic is taught at the right time (the best way is in real-time, on-demand — we’ll get into how to best do that in the next section).
2. Upgrade your content
Relevant topics and appropriate timing are definitely helpful for creating engagement. But you can still nail the topic and timing, and have your results fall flat because of dull, dry content. If you want people to actually engage with your content, it needs to be interesting, well made, and (ideally) fun. Consider the following:
Inject humour and storytelling
Humour engages the part of our brains responsible for critical thinking and attentiveness. That’s because it releases dopamine, which is closely linked with motivation and engagement. So by injecting humour into your content, you’ll increase engagement (as well as how much your employees learn).
And, if you can inject that humour into a story, you’ll see an even further increase in learner engagement and retention. Research suggests that information is 20x more likely to be retained if part of a story.
Keep in mind, the stories and humour you use must be appropriate for your audience. Otherwise, it will work against you. But these are critical components to keep in mind.
Use video (seriously, just do it)
Video is the preferred method of learning for over 75% of all employees — likely because our brains process it quicker than text. Needless to say, using video drives engagement. So just use it — it really is that simple.
Microlearning is the process of breaking your content into bite-sized chunks that can be consumed on-demand. However, remember that microlearning doesn’t necessarily mean shorter versions of traditional e-learning courses. The “resources not courses” approach highlights the value of providing referenceable material rather than coursework — which microlearning can play a part in.
It’s like that 5-minute (let’s be honest we all pick the shortest one) YouTube video on “how to cut your own hair” that you Googled halfway through the COVID-19 lockdown… you looked in the mirror and realised you needed help to trim the mop. So you found a short video, watched it, and implemented what you learned right away. Corporate learning may be easier than cutting your own hair but you get the point…
Numerous studies show that when learning occurs at the point of need like this, there is a 50% increase in engagement and a 17% increase in retention. So if you can offer your content via microlearning, it’s smart to do so.
Pro tip: Consider getting help
You can certainly tackle content upgrades yourself. However, we find it’s not cost-effective for most businesses to create all of their own content (translation: it’s bloody expensive to do it yourself).
So we typically recommend one of the following options for outsourcing content production:
- “Off-the-shelf” content: Buying pre-built content off the shelf is the most cost-effective outsourcing option. There are a number of sites that have extensive catalogues of high-quality content on a wide range of topics (us included). However, you have to ensure that the content you purchase actually helps you deliver outcomes, not just ticks the topical box. So you’ll want to spend extra time to ensure it’s the right fit! Also, consider delivery methods such as iFrames — allowing you to embed great video content into an in-house authoring tool.
- Bespoke content creation, when needed: Working with a bespoke studio for bigger, one-off projects to create custom content for your organisation gives you all of the benefits of doing it in house (and considerably fewer migraines). Plus, it means you own the IP. However, you’ll want to ensure that the studio you work with has the expertise and capacity to support you the way you need (equipment, are they specialists, do they work from a template (many do), etc.).
3. Build better structures around learning
Organisations often struggle to achieve learning outcomes because they have an internal culture that makes it difficult for their employees to learn.
For example, if leadership doesn’t believe learning is important or doesn’t give their team time to prioritise it, learning won’t occur (no matter how good your content is). So it’s important that learning is taken seriously in your organisation if you want to achieve L&D outcomes.
Focus on earning leadership buy-in to build a learning culture, and then put structures in place that help people take learning seriously, and reward them for doing so.
Suggested reading: How To Create a Learning Culture in 4 Steps
Focus on learner engagement and content
Over the past 40+ years, we’ve seen time and again how quality content can drive major improvements in engagement and L&D outcomes. And given how difficult the pandemic has made working (living?), it’s even more important to embrace the importance of engagement and quality-content more than ever.
The good news is, you can actually measure how engaged your employees are (it’s both a mindset and a metric). And to help you do so, we’ve put together an ebook that explains all of the above in even greater detail, as well as:
- How to measure and prove L&D ROI
- The 4 pillars of learner engagement
- How to earn leadership buy-in on learning objectives
- Everything you need to know to source content that drives outcomes
And more. It’s nearly five decades of knowledge in a single resource. Learn more here.