More and more organizations are waking up to the value of measuring learner engagement. In today’s hybrid working environment, many managers are rarely (if ever) in the same place as their employees, so organizations must identify new ways to measure learner engagement beyond simply attending the required learning sessions.
But learner engagement isn’t always the easiest thing to measure. For starters, it can be defined differently depending on the organization and their objectives. There are also many ways to measure engagement, which means lots of different metrics. Success should be defined upfront, but often engagement is an afterthought of any learning program — so where do we start?
Choosing the Right Metrics
There are many ways to measure learner engagement, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. On a relatively basic level, this can go from sign-up rates to active and total users. The next step might be looking at completion and drop-out rates or time spent on each course. Beyond this, an organization may look at the application of learned skills or behaviors, through the percentage of employees using their new skills, productivity rates or performance feedback.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the easiest metrics to measure — such as sign-up rates and completion rates, which will be collected by any good learning management system (LMS) — aren’t always the best metrics to measure engagement. Instead, looking at the application of new skills is far more telling of true learner engagement: Are the skills being learned then being used in an employee’s work, or are they learned and immediately disregarded? A true understanding of these metrics requires an organization to break down silos for a more holistic support of learning, engagement and performance management practices, through better integration of your learning and technology infrastructure.
Measuring Learner Engagement from the LMS
Most organizations use an LMS with some degree of reporting capability. This is where you will capture your “foundational” engagement metrics, such as course signups, completions and time spent on each component of a program.
However, with the right reporting functionality, there is a wealth of additional data waiting to be explored. For instance, what are the sign-ups versus completions for each program? What does interaction look like for optional, non-mandatory courses? Are learners racing through the program or taking the time to carefully consider each learning objective?
Using an LXP to Measure Learning Engagement
Organizations are adopting learning experience platforms (LXPs) to support informal learning and collaboration. On top of this, though, an LXP is a fantastic way to monitor learner engagement. Informal learning, by its very nature, is voluntary, meaning that anyone engaging with an LXP is doing so because they want to or see value in it.
There are two groups whose engagement you will want to measure in an LXP:
- Content authors: those making original posts, sharing resources they’ve found and actively commenting on the content of others.
- Content consumers: those interacting with other people’s content, whether that’s responding to mentions, liking posts or even silently reading posts without interacting at all.
The thing to remember here is that sharing content online doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Younger millennials and Generation Z workers are much more comfortable sharing content online, whereas more experienced workers may not be as active on your LXP. However, having a way to see who is viewing each piece of content (such as a “seen by” function that allows you to see everyone who has looked at a post) means that you can still keep track of content consumers, as well as those more actively engaging.
Beyond the Learning
Employee engagement is inextricably linked to learner engagement. Employee engagement looks at how happy your people are in their jobs, their likelihood of leaving and their productivity — for instance, highly engaged employees are more productive than their less-engaged counterparts.
The most common way to assess employee engagement across your entire workforce is with employee engagement surveys. These surveys will cover topics such as involvement, satisfaction, inspiration and leadership, and give the L&D team a way to understand how employees are feeling.
The responses from the employee engagement survey should be assessed alongside the data collected from the LMS and LXP. For instance, if the survey shows that employees are satisfied in their roles and enjoying their work, but there is limited engagement on the LXP, this could indicate a need to better promote the LXP. If certain teams are highly engaged on the LXP but report feeling dissatisfied at work, are they feeling frustrated? Or is there some other benefit they are missing?
How to Use Your Learner Engagement Data
Learner engagement data is invaluable for L&D teams looking to improve engagement across the entire organization. But understanding learner engagement in isolation isn’t going to make a huge difference — instead, it must be viewed holistically in relation to the rest of your talent experience.
Many organizations operate in silos, with the learning team working separately from the engagement team, who work separately from the performance management team. Getting the entire L&D team on the same page and involved in each other’s initiatives is a much smarter way to make the most of your learner engagement data, as other teams will likely have valuable insights into why learner engagement is higher or lower than expected (such as the launch of a new learning program, upcoming appraisals, a lower bonus than usual or something else).
In particular, learner engagement data should be reviewed alongside performance data. This might come from 360 feedback, productivity, sales figures, customer ratings or whatever performance metrics your organization uses. Combining this data means that your team and managers can identify highly engaged, highly productive employees and learn from them, as well as pinpointing less engaged, less productive employees to support them, uncover any problems and help them get back on track.
Beyond individual learners, L&D professionals can take this learner engagement data to find out what content is really capturing the imaginations of learners. These trends might be surprising — for instance, the learning team may have been prioritizing the production of learning videos, whereas the data from the LXP shows that learners rate short infographics especially highly. This data helps inform the learning team to create content that really works for the learners, directly inspired by their real-time learning activity, discussions and interactions.
Bringing It All Together
While it is possible to pull this data together from multiple separate systems, it is far easier to pull a report from a single, integrated platform. A talent experience platform combining learning, engagement and performance management is a powerful tool for organizations looking to better understand how to engage their learners, increase productivity and boost employee retention.
Breaking down the silos within the L&D team is a vital part of making the most of your learner engagement data — and underpinning that with the right technology is the first crucial step on the road to knowing what makes your learners tick.