70% of employees state they do not possess the skills they need to become experts at their job. This makes them unable to work efficiently, leading to disengagement that ultimately affects productivity.
Here’s where L&D steps in. L&D teams are able to provide mentorship for each employee, coaching them through every step of their job. They can ensure that the employee feels valued, is actively learning, and is able to pursue specific career goals. With this support, the employee becomes more engaged and, by extension, turns into an ace performer who’s in it for the long haul.
Put simply, L&D should be at the heart of every employee engagement strategy because your employees want learning and career opportunities more than they want raises or benefits. It's the single biggest unmet need of employees and should, therefore, be the focus of your efforts to keep your employees engaged.
Let’s take a look at how Learning and Development teams are central to an effective employee engagement strategy, and how they can help transform companies into Learning Organizations. (If you're curious about the Learning Organization model, you can get more information on that, below).
An effective L&D program accurately pinpoints the Learning Needs of employees and equips them with the skills they need to become masters of their roles. And employees who feel like their Learning Needs are taken care of are 21% more engaged than those who don’t have the same opportunities.
Acquiring skills is just the beginning. L&D is also the force that gives employees the tools they need to get promoted and level up into leadership positions. When employees see the potential for growth, they become more engaged in their job, maybe even evolving into true brand ambassadors.
As Jonah Goldstein, Head of Learning at here 360Learning points out, “There must be coaching around personal development and clear access to learning opportunities. This is the role of Learning & Development, and it’s critical to engagement.”
Beyond getting promoted, employees tend to enjoy learning opportunities for what they are: chances to become smarter, better people. By presenting learning opportunities, L&D helps employees feel intellectually stimulated and satisfy their curiosity. If work is a place where they can gain new skills and explore new interests—not just get every ounce of productivity squeezed out of them—work will be a much more engaging place.
There must be coaching around personal development and clear access to learning opportunities. This is the role of Learning & Development, and it’s critical to engagement.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transformation of jobs and the adoption of new digital tools. Plus, the automation of jobs is a growing reality, and remote work added yet another challenging dimension to many roles. It is not surprising that employees quickly disengage from work in the face of change. L&D helps give employees the skills they need to remain confidently plugged into their work, even through times of transition.
With roles transforming faster than expected, job titles change and new positions are constantly being invented. L&D can make these new learning opportunities available and enable employees to take on new projects or move to a new role within the organization. Employees who move to new roles within the same organization are 3.5 times more likely to be engaged employees than those who remain in their current jobs. L&D facilitates this movement into new roles.
When employees are able to reskill themselves, they’re excited to come to work every day knowing they’ll be trusted to tackle new challenges with support from L&D. Plus, according to Deloitte, investments in this type of growth boost resilience and keep employees engaged over the long haul.
Employees care about who they work with. In fact, 77% of employees reported that the relationships they have with their co-workers have a direct impact on how engaged they feel at work.
A disengaged workforce, especially a remote one, is more likely to see high turnover. Without a framework for human connection, employees can quickly fall through the cracks and feel like mechanical robots performing their jobs on auto-pilot.
But L&D can create opportunities for teamwork. L&D helps teams share knowledge and collaborate on tasks toward a common goal, which can create an engaging and active learning culture.
This type of peer-guided learning also boosts engagement (by up to six times) because it produces particularly useful and relevant learning content. That’s because the material is crowdsourced from the lived experiences of those closest to the action: your internal experts. They can provide information that speaks to their peers, prompting them to jump in to ask questions, provide feedback, and collaborate to make the material better. That active collaboration isn’t just good for learning; it’s also a great way to get employees engaged.
Related: Why Collaboration Skills Offer a Major Competitive Advantage (Plus 10 Ways to Unleash Them)
The modern-day workforce is increasingly picky about who they work for, and a company that cares about and invests in their humans, and society at large, will be among the top favorites. L&D can help employees better understand the brand and values of an organization and make them feel like an integral part of their mission.
Employees are part of a bigger move toward a green and people-first world, where talent is attracted to a company’s values and culture. In this new world, companies are involved in the support and development of their employees and the local communities in which they operate. When employees feel that their own values are aligned with those of the company they work for, it drives engagement and a dedication to be an active part of the whole.
From a values perspective, employees want to partner with organizations that prioritize learning. L&D plays a role in helping employees understand their purpose and the purpose of the company in general. They can educate employees about the company's mission and values and ensure that each and every person has a purpose for showing up to work.
L&D is a key factor in determining whether or not your employees will show up to work, enjoy being there, and give it all they have. Keeping L&D at the core of your employee engagement strategy will give you a thriving workforce that builds on its own expertise and aligns itself with the goals of the company as a whole.
Unsurprisingly, 64% of L&D pros point out that L&D has evolved from a “nice-to-have” to a “need-to-have” in 2021. And it rings especially true when designing an employee engagement strategy.