Employee rewards and recognition
Training & Learning

Rewards and Recognition: How to Drive Better Employee Engagement and Retention through L&D

Engagement is the common thread that runs through employee productivity, retention, and customer success. Highly engaged employees are indispensable assets to an organisation. 

From an organisational perspective, employees who receive professional development are more likely to become more productive. However, investing the money in employees’ professional development is just the beginning. L&D leaders need to be able to demonstrate that their efforts have an impact on employee performance and result in high engagement rates.  

Unfortunately, for many L&D teams, engagement still appears to be a challenge—busy schedules, irrelevant content, and disengaging training methods are all contributing factors to low engagement in workplace learning.  

So, how can L&D teams drive better learning engagement and outcomes? In this article, we delve into one effective method: a shift to incentivising learning, aligning the process with frequent rewards and recognition.

Rewards and recognition: The two R’s of higher learner engagement

In an ideal world, employees would voluntarily research and pick up training modules that are most beneficial to their job and growth potential. This is absolutely achievable and adopting a culture of continuous learning in the workplace should be a key priority for organisations. 

But a lot of the time, employees can’t dedicate the time to training even if they wanted to or they don’t see the value in training, particularly if they’ve had negative learning experiences in the past. In these instances, L&D teams need to find new ways to motivate and engage employees to pursue L&D programmes. 

So, what does motivation look like? 

Motivation comes in two forms: 

  • Intrinsic motivation is a drive to pursue a task or a goal that comes to a person from "within" or "naturally" because they find the activity interesting or seek the long-term reward associated with it. The behaviour of pursuing the goal in itself is a reward to intrinsically motivated people.  
  • Extrinsic motivation: This is the drive to pursue a task or a goal that is triggered out of the interest for a reward. People who engage in activities for the prize or to receive something in return are extrinsically motivated. 

L&D teams should consider these two types of motivation when devising their employee engagement strategies including rewards-based learning which we’ll dive into next.

Looking for more learner engagement tips? Download our data-driven insights from our engagement survey on how people like to learn.

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Why rewards-based learning is so motivating

To pull off a successful reward-based L&D programme, L&D teams need to keep their employees motivated and engaged by igniting their competitive spirit. 

Reward options can include: 

  • Point-based rewards
  • Gift cards
  • Gym/activity subscriptions
  • App subscriptions for mental health
  • Discounts/coupons
  • Online course sponsorships

How peer-to-peer recognition results in higher course engagement

Unlike rewards, recognition is intangible. It can be shown as gestures or an expression of appreciation in the form of messages, a verbal thank you, customised thank you cards, and open announcements. Recognition is also proven to have an impact on employee motivation and engagement.

Recognition can come in the form of: 

  • Team and organisation-wide appreciation: Recognition encourages employees to continue to perform in their role while keeping themselves abreast of changes in their areas of expertise. Recognition tools like Empuls allow organisations to recognise people’s achievements publicly, driving employee motivation and engagement
  • Opportunity to train and mentor others: Training and mentoring others in the organisation provide the opportunity for the employee to share their newly acquired knowledge.
  • Option to take advanced courses: By offering the chance to take up an advanced course, organisations can show that they value the employee’s efforts to stay relevant in their areas of expertise.

Employee rewards and recognition in learning and development programmes is a sure-fire way of improving employee engagement, participation, and satisfaction. But what methods are available when it comes to executing these initiatives?

By offering the chance to take up an advanced course, organisations can show that they value the employee’s efforts to stay relevant in their areas of expertise.

Choose a platform that improves participation through gamification

Gamification is the process through which rewards can be successfully implemented into L&D programmes. It involves adding motivational components based on game theory to training courses to build user engagement. 

In simple terms, gamification involves incorporating elements such as leaderboards, badges, points, and contests into learning with regular announcements. Every element has its purpose in gamification.

  • 🏆 Leaderboards: Leaderboards are the public space where performance is acknowledged. Here, employees are ranked in different categories to build motivation and a competitive spirit.
  • ⭐ Badges and Points: Badges and points are scoring systems to drive employee excitement and engagement. Upon reaching milestones, badges are given out, while coins can be used in the rewards marketplace. 
  • 🎁 Rewards: High achievers from the leaderboards can make their efforts pay off in terms of popularity and reputation and turn them into real-world items. People are motivated to compete for the top spot when great rewards can be unlocked.

A collaborative Learning Management System (LMS) is required for the successful gamification of training courses. An LMS is a platform you need to create and distribute courses and manage your learning programs. Features include:

  • Collaborative learning features: Elements such as a discussion forum turn learning into an exchange, giving people the ability to learn and teach from each other, ask questions and offer feedback on the training material.
  • User-friendly interface and responsive design: The LMS platform must be intuitive to use by even the newest employees unfamiliar with these systems. It should also have a design adaptable to various devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. 
  • Course Management: The LMS should hold all course-related content and allow admins to create and modify modules to deliver a highly targeted learning experience. 
  • Reporting and Analytics: Admins and instructors should be able to track the progress of their training initiatives to assess their effectiveness and modify them when necessary. 
  • Integrations: Integrating seamlessly with applications already in use in the organization is crucial to sharing essential data across platforms to gain insights and make informed business decisions.

Incorporate an effective peer feedback loop for your programmes

As with all people initiatives, employee rewards and recognition included, learning and development programmes need continuous feedback and improvement to remain effective. An active and continuous peer feedback loop is a key tool for any L&D leader looking to boost learner engagement and performance over time. Receiving, measuring, and responding to this feedback helps you improve your courses and build a culture of collaborative learning.

The peer feedback loop should include: 

  • Reactions score: This gives L&D teams instant feedback on which courses people find useful and which receive lower engagement
  • Feedback inbox: Feedback provided across all courses is available directly in your inbox.
  • Knowledge/skill gained: The training should help employees perform better in their role
  • Likelihood of recommending the course to a friend or colleague: This helps gauge how useful people found the course.

An LMS with real-time feedback features is the most effective way L&D teams can improve their entire library of courses over time. 

The role of collaborative learning in driving engagement through rewards and recognition

L&D leaders should consider employee rewards and recognition initiatives a key component of their learner engagement strategy. In combination with learning and development programmes that have an intrinsic focus, rewards and recognition have the power to drive collaboration and better learning outcomes, increase participation rates, and improve business performance. 

Ready to see how rewards and recognition work alongside collaborative learning? Get in touch and speak with one of our experts.

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