Today, L&D and HR teams are transitioning to a hybrid ecosystem that will continue to embrace remote and in-office teams. But training in a hybrid work environment requires a new learning mindset for learner engagement.

While the initial transition might present challenges and obstacles for L&D and HR teams, the benefits of having an effective hybrid learner engagement strategy are clear. When applied appropriately, this strategy can increase the efficiency and productivity of employees in your organization, improve employee motivation and satisfaction, and reduce employee turnover rates.

This article delves into our top ten most effective learner engagement strategies to motivate employees at work. From understanding real learning problems to creating personalized career path plans and giving employees the autonomy to declare their own learning needs, we got you covered.

Let’s unveil the various learner engagement strategies.

10 Best Learner Engagement Strategies

Learner engagement describes how much attention your employees give to your learning content and programs. An engaging learning program and experience should be helpful to your employees and make them feel excited. It should also inspire them to share their new skills with the rest of their peers.

However, real engagement is not a one-time, wow-your-socks-off learning affair. It takes time. Ultimately, you want your employees to engage with your content long enough to achieve personal and organizational performance goals. Learner engagement happens over time as learners progress in their development and start to unlock their full potential.

Now, let’s understand the different learner engagement strategies that can help organizations to achieve ultimate employee motivation.

1. Understand the challenges employees face in their roles

Employees consider learning and development essential, as it helps them acquire the appropriate skills to perform their tasks. According to a report published by SHRM, 86% of employees want on-job training to improve their job performance.

What you need to know:

  • Employees remain motivated and engaged when they can execute their tasks and perform well, hence saving companies the cost of hiring new employees every other time.
  • Understanding the challenges that your employees face is essential but not always straightforward. There has to be an appropriate communication channel between employees, management, and L&D teams.
  • Although you may have provided an avenue for employees to express themselves, for instance, through annual engagement surveys, this is not enough. There have to be frequent communication opportunities, especially in today's hybrid environment. This assures employees that their inputs and queries are always welcome.
  • With new systems in place, L&D and HR teams must understand the challenges employees face in their jobs to highlight where the learning needs and skills gap exists. It provides a platform for employees to address and direct their learning needs.
  • Adopt an "upvote" culture of publicly sharing knowledge gaps and inviting peers to fill those gaps internally.
  • You also need to ensure that employees have accessible channels to highlight issues and problems related to their roles and responsibilities, essentially, what's stopping them from performing at their best. This approach allows you to proactively identify learning needs and develop solutions to help them acquire the appropriate skills.

2. Ensure every employee has a personalized career development plan

Employee development plans are action plans that include working documents that both employees and line managers use. Not only do they ensure employees are growing personally but also develop their ability to achieve more in the workplace, assist employers in retaining their top talent, and meet the organization's goals.

What you need to know:

  • Employees want to feel they have opportunities to grow. Ensure that you can develop a career framework and tailor it for each employee by having regular one-on-one discussions.
  • When managing the career development of remote teams, it is essential to communicate frequently with your workers. This interaction must include meeting with the team members regularly both one-on-one and online to be attuned to their career expectations and aspirations.
  • This kind of support can help people feel valued and greater productivity and loyalty. Identify specific milestones for achievement and the supporting resources employees will likely need to tap along their journey.
  • Adopt succession planning to demonstrate to high-potential employees that you want to invest in their professional talent development and see them evolving into future leaders for the organization.
  • Clear, direct, and consistent communication from immediate managers about career advancement steps can help workers feel more engaged and inspire them to learn new skills.

3. Let employees declare their own learning needs by decentralizing learning

Explicit, systematic, and ongoing identification of how learning needs relate to business performance gaps is key to ensuring effective learning impacts an organization positively.

What you need to know:

  • A training needs analysis to identify the learning needs of your employees. But rather than using the traditional top-down approach where departmental managers and L&D departments assess training needs and create course materials, adopt a bottom-up approach where employees declare what they want to learn.
  • In the traditional top-down approach, managers are the sole decision-makers on what employees need to learn. The decision-making process is centralized as they set the learning goals, pinpoint knowledge gaps, and prescribe course recommendations. Although team members' opinions may be sought in the process, they will have little impact on the decision-making process.
  • Make sure employees can upvote a learning need so that L&D and HR teams know where to prioritize their content creation.
  • Once employees identify their learning gaps, give them the autonomy to become subject-matter experts and create courses themselves. This enables them to teach and learn from each other.
  • With this approach, employees choose their training content according to their learning interests and needs. In practice, this means anyone on the team can make a request or create a learning need, and other employees can use their unique skill set to develop courses to fulfill those needs.
  • The bottom-up approach gives employees control to choose what they want to learn and devise the best times to engage in learning.

4. Understand what your learners actually want

In some cases, your employees want more learning opportunities from work than they get. In a recent PwC study, 87% of millennials said that learning and development in the workplace are essential. A further 59% reported that having opportunities to learn and grow is crucial while deciding to apply for a job.

What you need to know:

  • Learners are more likely to perform their best when they know what is expected. Setting and communicating clear learning goals in a language that they can relate to is one of the vital learner engagement strategies to capture your employee's attention right from the start.
  • The first step begins with understanding your learners' development needs and how they relate to broader business goals. This could involve simple surveys that ask learners about their previous learning experiences. Invest time in understanding the unique needs of each learner.
  • In any learning process, there should be some overlap between the course's goals and the learner's personal goals. For example, a communications course should consider the individual objectives of a learner who seeks to improve their self-confidence in high-pressure communication scenarios, such as negotiating deals with clients.

5. Consider a collaborative learning management system

Learning management systems (LMS) are the foundation of effective learning programs as they enable organizations to create, manage, and deliver content.

What you need to know:

  • Get L&D and HR managers to adopt LMSs to handle the entire life cycle of the learning process within the company. Most organizations have embraced eLearning to train their employees to work remotely in the modern hybrid ecosystem.
  • Deliver training through videos, quizzes, interactive courses, and feedback surveys. Since they are virtual, you can take them any time and from any location. They serve as an ideal learning system for an increasingly remote workforce.
  • When selecting an LMS, choose one with social features that allow for structured onboarding, collaboration with peers, and self-directed learning so that employees can teach and learn together from the beginning.

6. Include gamification in your training programs

Gamification training has a long history in employee training and has become a popular method among L&D and HR managers. Companies that engage in collaborative gamified learning strategies report improved employee learning retention by up to 90%.

What you need to know:

  • Gamified learning involves using game elements, rewards, leaderboards, mechanics, and principles in a non-game context to engage users better. Gamification has been adopted from the recruitment stage through psychometrics and can be extended to L&D during the training process.
  • When drawing up a gamification strategy for your employees, there are various decisions to explore. Decide whether to add game elements to the structure or content under content gamification.
  • Alter the content by adding elements such as simulations, feedback loops, challenges, and storytelling without turning the learning into a game. Adopt performance gamification through words of encouragement. For instance, when employees drop off, send motivational messages and reward them for their work.
  • Organizations need to create a win-win situation where employees remain engaged by making the learning process fun. Employees are much more likely to remember the information they learn through gamification compared to a traditional classroom context.
  • By using interactive methods based on real-life work scenarios, L&D teams can help employees transfer their newfound knowledge into the context of their roles.

7. Give learners the chance to offer real-time feedback

To develop employees who increase the power of your service-profit chain, incorporate feedback platforms into training. As Henry Ford once said—the only thing worse than training your employees and having them leave is not training them and having them stay.

What you need to know:

  • Whether you are training starters with no experience or leaders who have worked in the company for years, it is your responsibility to provide training and professional development opportunities for everyone and ensure the company benefits from its investment in employee training.
  • Well-trained employees are more likely to stay happy and engaged in their work since adequate training makes people feel more capable and reduces frustration.
  • Training also aids in employee mobilization, where you train employees to understand their role in the organization and their power to make a difference.
  • When incorporating the training, create a platform for feedback where employees share their views about the course in your LMS. Engage them and ask how relevant the training is in meeting their individual needs and what can be improved.
  • With different demographics in the workforce, feedback is essential. One of the best ways to improve the feedback experience in a multigenerational organization is to give and collect feedback at all times, but in smaller amounts and through less formal interactions.
  • For instance, millennials have been primed for same-day delivery services where they get fast, continuous, and frictionless feedback. Instead of treating feedback like an event that has to be scheduled, treat it as an ongoing process.

8. Offer digestible chunks of learning and get creative

Once, two goldfish were having a conversation in a tank. One of them suddenly forgot what he was saying, and the other one replied, "Oh, Ben, you have the memory of a human."
Although this may sound like a joke, the truth is that humans have an attention span of 8 seconds, according to a recent study by Microsoft.

What you need to know:

  • Each employee's learning needs are different. For instance, a few types of learning such as certifications and compliance training require large chunks of time and information, some types of learning require bite-sized information.
  • With all the pressure from remote work, it is usually easy to get distracted from our tasks. Therefore, if you wish to engage your learners, make learning bite-sized, as this helps hold their attention.
  • Micro-learning helps break learning materials down into bite-sized chunks that are easily digestible and retainable in our brains.
  • Microlearning creates more learning efficiency and helps to retrieve retained information when needed. Get creative with the format of the courses and incorporate videos and interactive content that will make it easy to remember the key points.

9. Take a blended learning approach

With digital transformation spreading through enterprises, closing skill gaps in emerging technologies has become more crucial for organizations. This can be accomplished by having employees to acquire the essential skill-sets with the help of blended learning.

What you need to know:

  • Blended learning is an approach that employee learning and development professionals can take to conduct onboarding and employee training. A blended learning approach entails a mix of online courses, in-person workshops, online classrooms, and webinars to keep employees engaged.
  • People tend to learn best when they can control their learning pace. When it comes to corporate training, employees are not like conventional students and might contend with time constraints, along with balancing heavy workloads and family lives.
  • Setting a schedule according to the company's needs results in lower quality learning, and employees may drop out too. Blended learning helps learners to study online at their speed and, further, conveniently manage instead of having a pace set by the fastest or slowest learner in a group.
  • Although some of the blended learning approaches adopted still have the traditional elements of top-down training where information flows from the instructor, it is essential to adopt modern blended learning approaches that combine synchronous collaborative learning and asynchronous work.
  • This new blended learning approach looks into the learning experiences that should be included in asynchronous learning and which should be synchronous whilst embracing collaboration as the critical success factor. In addition, this new format calls for quicker content creation, better engaging content, and ensures learners have increased flexibility.

10. Offer mobile learning

The way we access information has changed dramatically over the last few years. Training professionals need to adopt a mobile mindset for learning and development to stay relevant.
Mobile devices, including smartphones, laptops, and tablets, have become an extension of our lives. On average, people touch their phones nearly 58 times a day. It's no surprise that mobile learning has become widespread and the first choice for many modern learners.

What you need to know:

  • According to Forrester, mobile learning involves more than using mobile devices. It means understanding the mobile behaviors of your employees and developing your learning strategies accordingly.
  • L&D managers need to begin thinking about content development through a mobile lens. This will involve selecting and structuring content and leveraging the multipurpose capabilities of smartphones.
  • With phones, you can shift seamlessly from text to videos, reference websites, and sharing apps. This takes an entirely new approach to how training programs are designed. Develop learning materials accessible across all devices your employees use and let them learn at their convenience.

Bonus tip: Promote a culture of collaborative learning

Collaborative learning uses teams to enhance learning by working together. The group works together to learn new skills and concepts, solve problems, and complete tasks.

Organizations can incorporate educational apps, webinars, and workshop programs that inspire employees to listen to other's standpoints, articulate those viewpoints, and get a detailed understanding as a team.

When developing a strong learning culture, organizations must focus on collaborative learning and aspire to make it dynamic. Allow your team members to explore their creativity individually and as a team at work.

A culture of collaborative learning gives a voice to everyone and enables ideas from ‘subject-matter experts’ to flow freely within the organization. Not just that, it also encourages continuous peer-to-peer learning and fosters a growth mindset.

A culture of collaborative learning finds various ways to solve issues across teams. This starts with your team learning about other teams' roles in the company and how each team fits into the larger picture. Your company will be then better equipped to resolve complex problems effortlessly.

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Freddie

Freddie

Content Lead for the UK market at 360Learning—a collaborative learning platform that enables companies to upskill their experts into champions for employee, customer, and partner growth.