Engaging Learners in a Rapidly Changing World: Strengthening L&D from Home
It has historically been challenging to communicate the value and need for learning and development. That goes double for organizations with cultures that don’t value personal and professional development. However, the shift to remote work has ushered in new, unique challenges that all organizations must overcome. It’s a rapidly changing world and to engage learners, you must take some specific steps. At-home learning has become part of the workplace lexicon. However not all self-paced learning is the same. You want to engage your learners whether they are in a classroom or working remotely.
Understand What Your People Want
What do your team members want to learn? Where do they want to go? Engaging learners requires going deeper than just providing a way to complete mandatory corporate training from home. Yes, those are important modules that must be completed to ensure regulatory compliance, but they are just one part of what learning and development should be. What is that, you ask?
Learning and development should create a path for professional and personal development that simultaneously supports the organization’s hiring strategy, reduces churn, and creates engaged employees. However, achieving that requires a deep understanding of what your people want to learn and where they want to go. This begins by getting to know each team member, learning about them, and discussing their professional and personal goals. Based on that discussion, you can then dovetail those goals with organization-wide objectives.
Understand How People Learn
At-home L&D has done away with things like in-person seminars and classes. However, there is a significant range of other options and they are not all equal in terms of effectiveness or engagement across all learners. You must tailor at least some of the modules to how individual learners prefer to learn.
Personalized, customized training offers several critical advantages that may be difficult or even impossible to achieve in other ways. These include the following:
- The ability to attract top talent
- The ability to retain key talent
- Address an employee’s current and future L&D needs
- Help narrow or close skills gaps
- Improve information absorption and retention
The key challenge here is identifying the ways that your people learn best and then interspersing that style of content throughout the learning and development process. For instance, some learners absorb knowledge better through direct application, so-called hands-on learning. This can be replicated in a corporate training environment in many ways, including interactive content, gamified content, and more. With remote work becoming normalized, it is important to figure a way to incorporate this type of immersive learning style into at-home learning participants.
The golden rule is this: discover how each employee prefers to learn and then take the time to create a personalized plan that takes them from where they are now to where they want to go that is based on that learning modality as much as possible.
This one is absolutely critical. If you don’t have leadership buy-in, all of your efforts are going to end in failure. Why? Simply put, leadership creates your culture. What leaders value becomes what employees value. What leaders dismiss becomes what learners dismiss.
In short, if your leadership doesn’t see the value in learning and development, then your learners aren’t going to, either. However, there is a small blessing here thanks to the remote work paradigm. Employees are not directly exposed to negative messages or actions from leaders regarding L&D directly.
With that being said, you must take pains to send the right message. If you are unsure what that means, it’s relatively simple:
- Make learning part of each employee’s day-to-day by discussing it in stand-ups and other communications.
- Normalize learning by having employees share something they have learned each week and how it has/will impact them.
- Encourage learning by adding gamified elements, such as leaderboards and high scores, which can add the spirit of competition.
- Reinforce the value of and need for learning and development to make it part of the organization’s culture.
The elements above should come from leadership – managers, executives, and decision-makers must take responsibility for their impact on company culture and be willing to buy into the vision of learning and development.
Show the Value of At-Home Learning
At-home learning is now the norm, but that does not mean there is no resistance to it. In fact, it is likely that at least a portion of your audience does not see the value here. It is necessary to show them the value that comes from completing training, even if it is in an at-home environment.
There are many ways to do this, but incentives are perhaps the easiest to implement and offer the most immediate return on investment. You can even tie those incentives into gamified elements to drive excitement and acceptance higher. For instance, split a group of learners into two teams and tell them that the team that has the highest number of completed modules at the end of the month gets an extra day of PTO for the year.
You can also show the value in less direct ways. For instance, creating personalized development plans can show individual employees how completing each course or module takes them one step closer to their ultimate goal, whether that’s a better position, higher pay, professional certification, or something else.
Showing the value offered by learning in an at-home environment can yield some surprisingly substantial results, as well. Because they’re working remotely, your team members have more downtime, some of which could be used to complete training courses faster than what would otherwise be possible.
The Right Effort to Develop At-Home Learning
As you can see, there are quite a few ways to engage learners, despite the rapidly changing world in which we find ourselves. While remote work might be the norm, that does not need to mean challenges to your L&D efforts. With the right LMS and an understanding of how to show the value of at-home learning, the need for leadership buy-in, and the benefits of personalized, customized learning paths, it can be simpler than you might think to achieve meaningful, measurable success.
At eLeaP, we’re committed to helping you build a culture of learning. Contact us today to learn more about our Learning Management System, our custom course builder technology, and how we support your training efforts.