An unconventional guide to how three top L&D pros boosted engagement.
Today’s workplace presents a paradox for Learning and Development professionals and employee training. The more connected learners are, the more complicated it is to reach them.
So, we reached out to our 100+ strong community of L&D professionals to learn both their top challenges and how they make organizational training great. Because new technologies are only superficial changes—training’s core principles remain the same.
Whether you have a well-developed employee training program or are putting a new one together, this piece can help you think of new ways to engage learners. Follow these guidelines to take your employee training to the next level.
45% of L&D pros say driving overall engagement is their biggest challenge
43% want to further engage part-time & hourly staff
37% struggle with incentivizing users
Engagement is the emotional commitment that an employee has to the organization, as defined by an industry-leading employee satisfaction organization. An engaged employee has a genuine care for the company. They go the extra mile because they want to see the organization succeed. What’s that look like in an LMS? Completing required material is important. Even more important is that learners take the initiative, work ahead, connect with one another, and even upload their own material to the system.
Incentives are a way to empathize with your learners. Everyday life demands so much of our attention, with apps, alerts, programs, and processes all vying for our concentration. Incentives, like a points store or user contribution contests, can keep your LMS top of mind during crucial days or weeks.
Five Best practices
Here are our top five ways to address those challenges and help learners form a genuine connection with your LMS:
Know your why.
Learners need to intuitively understand why an LMS is important, how it helps them on a daily basis, and how to use it. When building a training program or course, focus on the people who’ll work through the material. Let them know what’s in it for them, how they’ll benefit from the course.
Making a value proposition can help guide your thinking here. Value propositions are more substantial than a slogan or a catch phrase. Try writing a headline that advertises the end-benefit. Then a short paragraph explaining who the program is for and why it’s useful. Then list three bullet points about key benefits or features. That should give you a light to follow when taking the next step.
Make sure people know about it.
Think of your program as a product and create a marketing plan. Are you going to tell learners about the program through a newsletter, company meeting, or mass email? What are you doing to build anticipation in advance of the launch?
Loop in the organization’s influencers. You know—the people others go to for advice or help. Get them to buy in. The organizations with the highest engagement levels got middle management to buy in early. Maybe offer those managers an opportunity to check out the program first, to beta test it. Make sure to acknowledge and celebrate milestones once the program goes through its first major roll out.
Update the material.
As soon as it goes live, start working through and thinking of ways to improve. Set goals for each stage of your course. For instance, roll out the course to managers first. Once a given percentage of managers complete the course, open it up to the next group. Get feedback from users, incorporate that into the next stage, and always credit the users who suggested the updates.
Train the trainers.
They’re the ones talking with learners each day and need to have a full understanding of the program so they can provide a definitive answer. Give your learners the resources to learn on their own. For example, you can provide specific instructions on what kind of user contributions you’re looking for. The uploads will improve, and learners will gain a familiarity and comfort with the program. Learners are more effective and satisfied when success is clearly defined.
Incentivize your learners.
Competitions are a good way to drive short-term learner interest. A user upload competition can even help build up an effective content library—user contributions that feature a familiar setting and familiar people really resonate with learners. Or set it up so learners can earn points. Create value around the points by letting learners redeem them for concert tickets or gift cards.
Don’t trap yourself into thinking incentives have to be tangible items though. Offer personal and professional development opportunities. Give awards and public acknowledgement for accomplishments. And don’t be afraid to poll learners to find out what they’d like!
Learn from the pros
We spoke with a few of the influencers among our clients to see how they drive engagement, cultivate interest from part-time and hourly learners, and incentives.
One of these companies finished 2016 with an engagement level in the top 10% of all Wisetail clients. The organization made a major commitment to publishing new, fresh content on a regular basis. Plus, it featured a clean layout and bold design that made their LMS easy and interesting for users. The organization didn’t commit a ton of money to the content push, either. The L&D pros at this company got creative and made videos themselves (it’s easier than you think).
Another one of our more influential companies went through a major redesign of their LMS at the beginning of the year. That got learners more interested in the system because design drives engagement. Another uptick in their engagement level came with the launch of a new course that focused on the organization’s core values. The L&D pros there put together an effective communication strategy ahead of new material, too. It worked: engagement peaked during the first week of the course’s rollout.
The third company had a phased roll out of its LMS last year. Its engagement peaked during the heart of promotions and seasonal initiatives. Content completion was the main driver of engagement, which is expected of newer LMSs. The company rolled out content regularly throughout the year, as it opened the system up to more and more users, giving them a reason to log in often and get familiar with the system.