Fueled by the rise of employee engagement and employee experience as key strategic priorities for many organizations over the last several years, the learning experience has become a hot topic in training and development — and for good reason. After all, delivering a rich, modern learning experience is a known driver of employee engagement, retention and performance.

While it makes sense why many learning leaders today consider “the ideal learner experience” to be the ultimate goal, focusing exclusively on the experience itself is a recipe for disappointment and missed expectations. While we all want learning to be fun and compelling, if learning isn’t serving a larger purpose for the organization, what’s the point?

A Great Learning Experience Isn’t the End Goal

By treating the learning experience as the vehicle for improving engagement, retention, productivity and performance — rather than the end goal in itself — organizations can realize the full potential and business impact of their L&D initiatives. Here are three tips to help your organization design an engaging learning experience that also drives real, tangible business results:

1. Move Beyond Traditional Learning Metrics

When we are caught up in trying to deliver the best learning experience, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that learning isn’t (or shouldn’t be) done for learning’s sake. To create an engaging and effective learning experience, it’s critical to align learning with the goals and objectives of the business.

Traditional learning metrics like test scores, completion rates and course satisfaction give you no indication of whether learning is actually improving individual or organizational performance. A recent Brandon Hall study found that 75% of organizations with high-impact learning programs align the learning experience to business objectives, compared to just 42% of their peers.

A great learning experience doesn’t necessarily guarantee great business results, so it’s important to be intentional about the design and execution of your L&D initiatives. Start by outlining your targeted business outcomes and KPIs — such as revenue growth, retention, employee engagement and profitability — and work backward to develop the strategy that will help you achieve those desired results.

2. Personalization Matters

In today’s always-on world, learners expect instant access to information. They want personalized, relevant content in the moment of need. Netflix delivers a home page full of personalized recommendations every time we sign on to watch a movie, and employees want a similar consumer-grade, Netflix-like learning experience.

A learning platform is useless if people don’t have easy, rapid access to the content they need, when they need it — which is where many traditional learning management system (LMS) platforms fall short. An LMS might have thousands of courses in it, but who wants — or has the time — to go down the rabbit hole trying to find the specific course or piece of content he or she is looking for?

There’s a reason Brandon Hall found that 62% of high-performing companies use personalized learning as part of their learning strategy. To deliver a learning experience that drives results, organizations need to put employees in the driver’s seat of their own development, delivering learning that is contextualized, personalized and relevant.

3. Select Technology That Supports Your Strategy

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a sleek, beautifully designed LMS with all the bells and whistles will give your learners the modern experience they want and need. But user experience isn’t the same as learning experience , and having a user-friendly LMS doesn’t necessarily mean you’re providing a great learning experience.

An LMS with too much content, content that is irrelevant or impersonal, or content that is a nightmare to navigate doesn’t deliver a compelling experience that will motivate your employees to take anything more than mandatory training. Video learning, microlearning and artificial intelligence (AI)-driven personalized learning recommendations are just a few of the features and capabilities that can help you create a more engaging learning experience. By choosing a learning platform that offers the functionality needed to deliver a personalized, modern learning experience, you can boost learner engagement, move the needle on performance and maximize the return on your technology investment.

If You Build It, Will They Come?

There’s a line that was made popular in the Kevin Costner movie “Field of Dreams”: “If you build it, they will come.” When it comes to learning and development, we might say, “If you build it, they might come — or they might not.” Just because you roll out a slick new learning platform does not necessarily mean your employees will use it.

Choosing a learning platform without a well-defined learning experience strategy is akin to putting the cart before the horse. It’s vital to think critically about how to design a learning experience strategy that meets the needs of your people and your business — before you ever even consider the technology. After all, when it comes to creating the ultimate learner experience, strategy is the driver, and technology is the enabler — not the other way around.

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