More and more employees want to learn new skills and sharpen existing ones. The University of Phoenix’s 2022 Career Optimism Index showed that “68% of workers would stay in jobs if there were more opportunities to upskill,” which is good news for people who are charged with pulling together online learning.

Yet, as a LinkedIn blog post notes, “Most employees dread training. It means time away from their day-to-day jobs in a brightly lit conference room to learn something the way the company wants them to learn it, to meet a specific business need.” The bottom line is that employees want to learn — but many don’t like how their employers deliver the training.

Knowledge sharing is vital to organizations, but it only creates the intended results if it’s delivered in ways that generate learner enthusiasm and engagement and has structure and content that reflects employees’ needs and time constraints.

Here are three reasons why the courses in your online learning program should be flexible and engaging.

Reason 1: You Need to Attract Talent.

In May 2022, the U.S. unemployment rate was at 3.6%. In your field, the rate may be even lower — leaving open requisitions unfilled for far too long, with the costs for recruitment ticking upward. The best candidates likely want more serious perks than foosball tables and nap rooms: They seek out opportunities to deepen their knowledge. As the Gallup upskilling survey reports, most candidates prioritize learning when weighing a job offer.

One way to respond to candidates’ desire for learning that strengthens their skills is to create online learning courses that stress upskilling — that is, courses that help employees expand knowledge of their core skills. And when candidates see that your company’s online learning program contains engaging courses that take into account their need for flexibility, they’ll be more confident that you prioritize their professional growth, personal development and well-being.

Reason 2: You Need to Retain Talent.

It’s one thing to get candidates to accept a job offer. It’s another to keep them in the job. In the Gallup upskilling study, 71% of employees surveyed said that job training and development increased their job satisfaction — and 48% said they’d consider changing jobs to get the training they believe they need. That’s a strong argument for why you need online learning: It can turn a revolving door of candidates into a satisfied talent pool whose personal development needs are being addressed.

When it costs an average of $4,000 to hire a new employee and takes about 24 days to fill a position, you can see the value of creating an engaging online learning experience that motivates learners who are already part of your company.

Reason 3: When Online Learning Is Engaging and Flexible, People Come Back for More.

Online course creators want employees to eagerly seek out another learning opportunity — and another, and another. To keep your learners coming back for more, think about the online courses that made you stick around. They were probably fun and enlightening, filled with interactive and media-rich learning experiences. You might even have taken them on a tablet or a phone.

As the LinkedIn blog post notes, “Instead of treating employees like commodities, learning is about treating people as individuals, and allows them to get the most out of their abilities.” When learning experiences are dynamic, engaging and personalized, learners get excited about the knowledge they’ve gained.

People who love learning also love to be challenged. Interactive activities, multimedia and quizzes keep learners interested. High-quality courses that engage learners can also be shorter — yet still interesting and effective — so employees can easily fit them into their busy schedules. All-in-one learning systems have the tools you need to keep challenging learners, as well as guidance to help you along the way.

The best online learning is flexible and takes into account that learners prefer to choose how rapidly or how slowly and methodically they learn, so they can help the content stick. Instead of demanding their presence at an awful hour in a horribly lit conference room, they can learn on their device of choice in the places they love at a time convenient to them.

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