In today’s digitally enabled and distracted workplace, it’s becoming harder and harder to cut through the noise and engage learners. Learners today require much more variety, higher quality content and far more flexibility than ever before. Learning and development (L&D) professionals, therefore, need to adapt their strategy to reach their employees and keep them engaged.

Improving Engagement

Learning is perhaps one of the most obvious ways to drive employee engagement. Acquiring new skills not only keeps staff mentally active, but also boosts their confidence and shows that their development is just as important as their productivity. However, with the growing expectations of today’s employees, creating a culture of learning by itself is not enough. Training and development programs for employees should include the latest developments to lead and inspire.

Thankfully, new techniques are making it easier to develop L&D strategies that are both adaptive and fun to use. Although employees are much more demanding, at the same time, it is much easier to fulfill those demands in an era where sharing information and comparing ideas has never been easier. Let’s look at some of the ways in which technology and heuristics are driving new and exciting changes in how we work and learn.

Gamification: Making Learning Fun

From the lens of L&D, gamification can be defined as the use of game mechanics to drive engagement in corporate training and development. By using motivational techniques derived from gaming, employees are encouraged to stick with assigned training rather than lose interest due to a lack of incentive.

Some examples of game mechanics used in gamification are:

  1. Rewards: Award badges, points or discounts to learners who score highest.
  2. Leveling up: Learners complete levels by successfully finishing their tasks.
  3. Multiplayer: Pair users or put players in groups to solve problems or complete activities together.
  4. Sub-levels: Set quizzes and other bonus games throughout the course.
  5. Leaderboards: Show who’s “winning” and inspire other learners to up their game.

To support user engagement, look out for gamification in the platforms that you launch for your learning & development.

Implement Hybrid Learning in Your L&D Plan

Another L&D delivery method that is growing in popularity is hybrid learning. With hybrid learning, there is no reason to miss a class. It is a highly flexible style of learning which puts the needs of the employee front and center of your L&D program.

While there is no standard approach to hybrid learning, it can be broadly defined as a course where lessons can be attended either remotely or in person. In principle, a student could take 100% of a lesson in person, while another student could take 100% of the exact same classes online, connecting through a videoconferencing app.

In most cases however, a learner will use a mixture of remote and in-person learning, combining the two to fit around their work schedule or other commitments.

Building a Culture of Continuous Learning to Boost Engagement

Essential to any L&D strategy is continuity. It’s important to stick with a learning method for a significant period. Constantly switching from one approach to another can be counterproductive, particularly when you are focusing on key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure your strategy’s success.

To ensure your L&D program is effective, get managers on board from the start. The importance of getting managerial support cannot be overstated. According to a 2019 LinkedIn Workplace Learning report, 56% of learners would be likely to focus on L&D if retraining suggestions came from their managers. This illustrates the importance of getting the support of team leaders from the outset to facilitate a learning culture.

A commitment to continuous learning also aids employee retention: Although employees may leave a company for many reasons, a lack of L&D opportunities is one of the most commonly cited factors. This is backed up by independent research. A recent study developed by HR consultancy Robert Half found a direct link between staff turnover and a lack of employee retention initiatives, with less than half (47%) of the 500 businesses surveyed undertaking any training and development at all.

To keep your staff as motivated as possible and promote retention, make sure your L&D plan is one you are likely to stick with. Create an L&D plan that incorporates skills that are not only fun to learn (“gamifiable”) but which are multidimensional — applicable both in and outside of the workplace.