Consider this: An employee in France was awarded €40,000 in damages because his job was boring. Cases like this may be rare, but bored and disengaged employees are not. Worldwide, only 15% of employees are actively engaged at work, creating a real burden on organizations with huge losses in productivity.
With that level of disengagement further deepened by remote work and the past year’s myriad challenges, your training isn’t going to be effective. Perhaps that’s why employee engagement in learning is among the top struggles for L&D professionals.
But there’s a way to get past the challenges: keep employees at the heart of your training. The secret to employee training engagement lies in Collaborative Learning—bringing employees into the process to identify Learning Needs, create courses, and provide feedback. This has a massive impact on your training, with higher engagement and a significant spike in course completion rates.
To maximize training engagement, Collaborative Learning needs to be baked into your training to make it relevant, effective, up to date, and social. Here we lay out the best strategies to make your training engagement soar—or you can download our related cheat sheet, below for the condensed version.
Your employees are valuable consultants regarding their own needs. Just ask them. When learners declare a Learning Need, whether it’s remote onboarding, IT expertise, or rock climbing, L&D teams have a better understanding of which courses to create to meet those needs.
Unfortunately, only 12% of employees actually apply the skills learned in training programs to their jobs. This means learner needs aren’t being identified correctly before developing a training course. If a salesperson is underperforming, for example, there could be a dozen causes. Maybe they need training in time management or communication skills. But without properly researching their skills gaps, L&D is reduced to just guesswork about the type of content that will get employees up to speed.
When you democratize the needs analysis process, you give team members the opportunity to tell management what they need to be better at their jobs. It takes the conjecture out of developing training and provides clarity. On a deeper level, you also lay the building blocks for a culture of learning and innovation with a bottom-up approach that’ll empower employees to contribute with independence and authority.
But identifying Learning Needs doesn’t just mean employees raise their hand and ask for a course. It’s even harder to gauge interest in a remote world where employees are behind their own screens but physically apart. That’s where a Learning Needs tool comes in handy, enabling you to crowdsource Learning Needs in a collaborative manner. Employees vote to identify Learning Needs, which are prioritized based on how many people share the need. This puts learners in charge of their own learning and makes them more likely to engage in training.
The experts who can make your training engaging are right there within your organization. Your employees come with a wealth of knowledge and expertise, and when they share it with co-workers by creating training courses, it is relevant and useful to others in similar roles.
Employees are more comfortable learning from co-workers because it doesn’t come from a place of authority, which takes away the friction that typically accompanies top-down training methods. And yet, organizations are reluctant to establish a formal system of peer training because outside experts are perceived as more valuable teachers than internal ones. Rather than paying for training instructors and forcing your employees to spend working hours in intensive training sessions, you can actually save both time and money by utilizing your internal experts.
That expertise is invaluable, but it isn’t always guaranteed. When employees leave, their expertise leaves with them. But not if you preserve that institutional knowledge in the form of training courses. A course created by an employee can continue to contribute to your training success long after they’ve left.
But training isn’t a stagnant, one-time need. As your company grows, so will your training needs. You need to be able to keep up with the demand and ensure that the training remains relevant and engaging. An authoring tool lets you scale faster and gives SMEs the freedom to collaborate and pour their knowledge into a course. When learners co-author content that teams can readily understand and apply, it naturally leads to higher course completion rates and better training engagement.
Your training needs to keep up with constantly evolving business priorities and objectives. It won’t happen if you rely solely on an annual training needs analysis. There is an expiration date for courses, and information becomes outdated faster than a single person can keep up with. The SMEs who created your courses in the first place are the best resources you have to provide feedback on material and update it to maintain your training engagement.
Some knowledge is forever, but the past year or two proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that businesses need to be light on their feet and capable of updating courses to incorporate new processes, technologies, and paradigms.
The answer lies in collaboration and continuous feedback. When employees are able to provide comments, Reactions, and relevance scores on courses, they take on the role of editor and can make suggestions to improve your courses contextually and on demand. These Reactions and feedback can give authors suggestions, but they can also highlight what people don't know, leading you to expand the course or create new courses based on this insight about Learning Needs.
Learning cannot occur in a vacuum. Humans need and want a sense of connection and context. In fact, 80% of corporate learning is facilitated through “on-the-job interactions with peers, experts, and managers.” When employees learn collaboratively through interactions with each other, it helps fill in knowledge gaps and creates social interdependence. Employees feel responsible for team success, leading to higher accountability toward training.
One of the barriers — Harvard Business Review goes as far as calling it a “silent killer” — to training engagement is the lack of social interaction and honest conversations about the usefulness of course material. Unlike most business solutions, however, this one does have a silver bullet: bringing learners front and center of the training experience with interactions built into the workflow.
Collaboration is easy to integrate into training when you lean on interactive features like discussion forums. Learners can ask questions, get answers, and refine their understanding on demand and in real time. If an employee wants to go further, they can mention and tag an in-house expert and ask them to weigh in, all in public view. This way, anyone who has the same question in the future can look up answers to their query, and if those answers have changed by then, they can request an update. Your training now runs like a well-oiled machine with constant upkeep made possible simply by letting learners take the lead.
One of the barriers to training engagement is the lack of social interaction and honest conversations about the usefulness of the course material.
Boreout is a real phenomenon with damaging effects that make motivation and productivity plunge into a vortex. Your training shouldn’t be a contributing factor. You can leverage your training with the help of a Collaborative Learning tool that makes training engagement a natural byproduct, not a forced business objective.