The goal for any training intervention should be to drive business performance. This article outlines how to create programs so that employees engage in learning, change behavior and drive performance.

Why Do You Need to Re-evaluate and Reframe Learner Engagement?

Most learning and development (L&D) teams take a basic approach to measuring the level at which employees engage in learning, paying attention to the number of hours or sessions of learning completed, course completions and seat time. Some even advertise things like “Our LMS has [x] hundreds of hours of eLearning!”

However, this tells only a small part of the story of how engaged learners really are, and it certainly doesn’t answer the question “Did this training benefit the employees and company?”

What really needs to be evaluated, quantified and used as a strategic impetus, is how much business improved as a result of training — through increased individual and operational competency levels and enhanced strategic business outcomes.

What Is Learner Engagement?

Learner engagement is not about the number of sessions a learner attends or the number of courses they complete. Learner engagement is a measurement of how involved learners are as they drive content selection and learning opportunities.

Learner engagement is not in seat time. It is a measurement of time that is meaningfully invested through strategic direction and purpose. Such meaningful learning experiences trigger behavior change and help learners enhance current skills and develop new skills. They also drive team and company performance.

Designing Programs that Engage Learners, Change Behavior and Drive Performance

L&D, as a function, needs to become an operational norm and organizational priority, enriching how employees engage in learning.

It’s time to redefine the purpose of L&D teams, with clear alignment to operational goals and strategies. To do this, L&D teams need to:

  • Consider reevaluating their objectives to bring it in line with their business performance metrics.
  • Focus on conducting change management analysis and implementation efforts along with the organization’s C-suite.
  • Aim at enhancing core competencies to implement organizational strategic goals.
  • Include the business’ key performance indicators (KPIs) as the base for training assessment metrics.

Create a learning ecosystem that’s not designed, implemented or viewed as discreet events, but instead as a learning journey comprising the learner and learning experience. A blend of formal and informal interventions, nudges and follow-ups can make up the learning journey. This ingrains new knowledge and behavior in employees.

The learner experience should be as self-directed as possible. By leveraging mobile learning, this experience can meet learners where they are, taking advantage of opportunities between typical tasks to incorporate upskilling and reskilling activities.

The learning experience should be easy to engage with and is immediately applicable to help solve on-the-job challenges and problems.

Creating a Learning Continuum

The challenge, then, is to drive change so that employees actively engage in learning as a key component of their day-to-day job responsibilities as well as part of their core set of competencies. Just as an avalanche can be triggered by small and simple acts, consistent effort by leadership will quickly multiply in effect as employees mindfully locate, consume and share learning.

The following are important facets to enhance learner engagement and create a culture of lifelong learning:

  • Work to shift employees’ mindsets so they understand that learning is a journey, not a single event or destination.
  • Work to make learning an organizational priority.
  • Develop guides for leaders so they can follow up on their team members’ completed learning programs.
  • Reward employees who learn new things and share what they learned in public forums.
  • Work with leaders so that they model the desired behavior: Sharing what they learn by telling others about it.
  • Create opportunities for experimentation and learning from failed experiments. The co-founder of Basecamp said ,“How can we afford to … ‘mess around’ with new ideas? How can we afford not to?’’”
  • Along with creating opportunities and space for experimentation, reward out-of-the-box thinking and those who are willing to take calculated risks.
  • Create continuous learning opportunities by:

Enhancing how employees engage in learning enforces knowledge retention and changes behavior. Building training that is engaging, while also making sure it aligns to enterprise strategy and goals, will drive business performance now and in the future.

Find out how L&D teams can leverage outsourcing and build strategic partnerships to meet the enhanced expectations from the business. Download our eBook,” Creating Value Through Outsourcing – How L&D Teams Can Leverage Strategic Partnerships to Meet the Enhanced Expectations from the Business.”