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How to Design Learning Programs that Get Employees to Engage in Learning, Change Behavior, and Drive Performance

September 29, 2021 | By Asha Pandey


How to Design Learning Programs that Get Employees to Engage in Learning, Change Behavior, and Drive Performance

The goal for any training intervention should be to drive business performance. This article outlines how to create programs so that employees engage in learning, change behavior, and drive performance.

Why Do You Need to Re-evaluate and Reframe Learner Engagement?

Most L&D teams look at how to measure the level at which employees engage in learning only at a basic level. They pay attention to the number of hours or sessions of learning, completions, and seat time. Some even advertise things like “our LMS has x hundreds of hours of eLearning.”

However, this tells only a small part of the story of how engaged learners are with training content and programs and certainly doesn’t answer the question “Did this training benefit the employees and company?”

What really needs to be evaluated, quantified, and used as a strategic impetus is how much business improved as a result of training – through increased individual and operational competency levels, and enhanced strategic business outcomes.

What Is Learner Engagement?

How employees engage in learning is not about the number of sessions a learner attends or the number of courses they complete. Learner engagement is a measurement of how involved learners are as they drive content selection and learning opportunities.

Learner engagement is not in seat time. Learner engagement is a measurement of time that’s meaningfully invested through strategic direction and purpose. Such meaningful learning experiences trigger behavior change and help learners enhance current skills and develop new skills. It also drives team and company performance.

How Can You Design Learning Programs that Engage Learners, Change Behavior, and Drive Performance?

Learning, as a function, needs to become an operational norm and organizational priority, enriching how employees engage in learning.

It’s time to redefine the purpose of L&D teams – with clear alignment to operational goals and strategies.

To do this, L&D teams need to:

  • Consider reevaluating their objectives to bring it in line with their business performance metrics.
  • Focus on conducting change management analysis and implementation efforts along with the organization’s C-suite.
  • Aim at enhancing core competencies to implement organizational strategic goals.
  • Include business KPIs as the base for training assessment metrics.

Create a learning ecosystem that’s not designed, implemented, or viewed as discreet events, but instead as a learning journey comprising the learner and learning experience. A blend of formal and informal interventions, nudges, and follow-ups can make up the learning journey. This ingrains new knowledge and behavior in employees.

  • The learner experience should be as self-directed as possible. By leveraging mobile learning, this experience can meet learners where they are, taking advantage of opportunities between typical tasks to incorporate upskilling and reskilling activities.
  • The learning experience should be easy to engage with and is immediately applicable to help solve on-the-job challenges and problems.

How Can You Create a Learning Continuum Through How Employees Engage in Learning?

The challenge then is to drive change so that employees actively engage in learning as a key component of their day-to-day job responsibilities as well as part of their core set of competencies. Just as an avalanche can be triggered by small and simple acts, consistent effort by leadership will quickly multiply in effect as employees mindfully locate, consume, and share learning.

The following are important facets to enhance learner engagement and create a culture of lifelong learning:

  • Work to shift the mindset of employees so they understand that learning is a journey, not an event or destination.
  • Work to make learning an organizational priority.
  • Develop guides for leaders so they can follow-up on the learning that members of their team complete.
  • Reward those who learn new things and share what they learned in public forums.
  • Work with leaders so they model the desired behavior, sharing what they learn by telling others about it.
  • Create opportunities for experimentation and learning from failed experiments. The co-founder of Basecamp said “How can we afford to … ‘mess around’ with new ideas? How can we afford not to?”
  • Along with creating opportunities and space for experimentation, reward out-of-the-box thinking and those who are willing to take calculated risks.
  • Create continuous learning opportunities by:

Parting Thoughts

Enhancing how employees engage in learning enforces information retention and changes behavior. Building training so that it’s engaging, while also making sure it aligns to enterprise strategy and goals, will drive business performance.

Find out how L&D teams can leverage outsourcing and build strategic partnerships to meet the enhanced expectations from the business.

Download our eBook, Creating Value Through Outsourcing – How L&D Teams Can Leverage Strategic Partnerships to Meet the Enhanced Expectations from the Business.

This article was first published in Training Industry.

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