Employee engagement is one of the most critical metrics for managers to consider. It affects everything from performance to retention, and everything in between. Increasing engagement can bolster profitability, success, and more.
Of course, increasing engagement (free white paper) can be incredibly challenging. One tool at your disposal that you might not have thought about is learning and development. When used correctly, L&D can be a powerful driver of engagement and can offer several other important benefits.
How do you use it for this purpose, though? Below, we’ll discuss five tips to help ensure that you’re able to improve employee engagement through learning and development.
1. Highlight Its Importance to Employees
Not that long ago, learning and development focused mostly on mandatory corporate training and nothing more. Any professional development took place before the employee was hired. You brought people on board based on their existing skillset with little thought for how they might develop in the future.
Today, things have changed radically. The modern career is no longer the product of a learning journey. Rather, it has become the journey itself. Learning and development (both personal and professional) take place continuously along that road.
By providing professional and personal learning and development opportunities (Training course packages), and evangelizing the importance of development, you help increase employee engagement. By providing your teams with the ability to challenge themselves, grow their skillsets, and improve their career with your organization, you help them become more engaged, but also reduce the chances that they’ll jump ship to seek out other employment options with greater rewards elsewhere.
2. Create a Company Culture That Celebrates Learning and Development
To increase employee engagement, learning and development must be something that’s celebrated and valued across the organization. It can’t be the province of HR alone. It can’t be something that’s talked about in meetings but never focused on during day-to-day tasks. It cannot something that you preach but never focus on.
To create a company-wide culture that celebrates L&D, you’ll need to ensure that it is valued by those at the very top. Remember that organizations follow a top-down model in most cases, where the values of the leaders trickle down to those under them. When you get your leaders to champion L&D initiatives, you’ll find that employees are better able to see the value and applicability of the initiatives themselves.
You can also use other tools and tactics to help create the right culture, such as:
- Create a “learning week” to celebrate L&D within the company.
- Create “New Skill Wednesday” or something similar where people talk about what they’ve learned and how they’ve applied it.
- Create cross-training opportunities for different teams to develop a sense of cohesion and unity.
3. There’s No Single Solution
One important mistake to avoid here is assuming that you can have an L&D path that’s essentially one-size-fits-all. It doesn’t work that way. Sure, it might be fine for mandatory corporate training, such as diversity and inclusion training, but when it comes to personal and professional development, you must take a customized approach based on each individual.
Each employee has their own unique career goals, personal goals, hopes, and dreams. Learn what those are and then create a learning and development path that takes each employee from where they are now to where they want to be. Of course, you need to ensure that this aligns with company needs, but you’ll find that it usually does.
This also applies to learning methods and types. Some of your employees will learn better by sitting through a video presentation, for instance. Others will benefit more from reading the material, and yet others need to get hands-on to really learn. Make sure that you’re tailoring both the L&D path and the training methods to the individual.
4. Technology Is Your Friend
While your learning and development process probably does occur digitally, you might not be aware of just how much L&D technology has advanced in recent years. There’s no need for your team members to sit through hours of a boring lecture (even if it’s delivered digitally). Today, they can learn in new ways that really engage their interest.
For instance, gamification can offer a lot of benefits, including greater engagement and better learning outcomes. That doesn’t mean you need to transform all of your content into games, either. You may only need to add some game-like elements to see those benefits. For instance, high scores and leader boards can help make learning more competitive and enjoyable.
There’s also the fact that e-learning systems can allow your learners to complete modules when it works best for them. They might not have to cut time out of their regular work hours – they could complete courses while at home, or while they’re traveling. The right LMS is necessary, but the sky’s the limit when it comes to the benefits and capabilities you can see with today’s technology.
5. Monitor Employee Progress
While some learning can be completely employee-led, you do need to ensure that you’re tracking overall progress. This is important for several reasons:
- Only by monitoring where they are now can you effectively create a path forward that will ultimately lead to not just engagement, but a better employee experience overall.
- Only by monitoring performance can you identify areas where employees might be struggling and ensure that enough time and attention is paid to address those struggles.
- Only by monitoring performance can you identify areas where your material might be lacking and develop content that is more user-friendly, in-depth, or applicable.
Engaged Employees Raise Your Organization
With more engaged employees, you can reduce churn, strategically hire new employees, and build a stronger, more resilient business. Learning and development initiatives can be central to creating the engagement necessary. The right culture, the right LMS, and an understanding of how professional and personal development have changed can help ensure that you’re able to develop engaged employees who will raise your entire organization.