Just like snowflakes, no two employees are the same. Their preferred learning and development methods at work can range broadly from high touch mentoring and coaching to low touch curated content and self-paced courses.
Designing an employee learning program that can cater to many individual needs is one thing, but competing with our world of per-second notifications and demanding priorities is a whole other kettle of fish.
Thankfully, there are experts in our network who specialize in creating cut-through content in the L&D space. By following this simple four-step strategy shared by The Career Conversation in our on-demand webinar, you can ensure the programs you’re designing are set up for success.
- Understanding audience motivation
- Making leaders visible and valuable
- Defining content messaging and technology
- Identifying the right mix of media
Benefits of employee training and development
A recent study found that only 31% of employees are feeling engaged at work, while 14% are actively disengaged. With the unpredictable series of events that have unfolded in 2020, it’s no surprise that workplace engagement has taken a serious hit.
As some companies stand-by the temporary nature of a dispersed workforce and are itching to bring all employees back into the office, there is a growing discussion around a hybrid virtual model of working that may be the new normal.
With some employees expected to be in-office and others to work from home, the benefits of a training and development program remain the same; positive employee retention, improved performance, consistent innovation, and sustainable business growth — just to name a few.
Our biggest consideration as we navigate unchartered territory is ensuring our training content is accessible and engaging for all employees. Here are the four steps to follow when implementing a new learning and development program in a post-pandemic world.
1. Understanding audience motivation
Launching an L&D program without context is like taking a stab in the dark. The hours of work put into content creation and implementation will likely fall on deaf ears if you don’t communicate the ‘why’ in advance.
As more employees move in the positive direction of career ownership and desiring self-driven learning opportunities, we really need to identify and articulate the motivation behind each program.
It comes down to a single key motivator and amplifying a consistent message in your pre-launch phase:
- Connect the program to performance - completing a learning module will help a certain group of employees perform their job better.
- Use an organizational priority to trigger curiosity - closing the loop on ‘the why’ behind a program is easy when a collective need is involved.
- Frame the training material as compulsory - for employees to progress their careers or work in a section of your business, make program completion essential.
‘‘Motivation is the force that drives people to do something. Establishing an internal goal for learning is crucial for buy-in and success. There’s no point trying to make unmotivated learners take a course they’re not interested in. We need to think about learning in the same way we think about marketing - how can we identify and impact our employees at the moments that matter.’’ - Sheree Andersen, Director & Co-Founder, The Career Conversation.
2. Making leaders visible and valuable
Once you’ve identified your audience motivation it’s time to call on your relevant stakeholder to help you introduce the ‘why’ behind a particular learning and development program. Engaging a leader to frame the training can help anchor to organizational realities and drive participation rates.
It’s important to remember that there’s a fine line between authentic delivery and messaging without real sentiment. With our leaders shorter on time than ever, doing your due diligence to ensure they’re comfortable and connected to the purpose is an important first step.
As someone purely responsible for employee development, it can be easy to set our expectations high on leaders. We assume after we’ve convinced them of the program's purpose that they have all the time in the world to film videos, participate in podcasts, and contribute to live discussions.
Understanding the part you play in contextualizing the content and equipping stakeholders with necessary talking points will help take the pressure off and result in a lot more cooperation.
‘’Leaders are the momentum creators behind learning programs. But for many, they’re time poor and have a lot of demands. L&D teams don’t want to be seen as putting additional workload onto them, we want to support them in their roles. We make sure we’re engaging with leaders upfront so they understand the purpose. They often don’t have the time to go through the content before employees, so we make sure we give them speaking notes and dot points around what the program is about and what we’re trying to do. We find that the more support we provide our leaders, the more passion and momentum they exude onto employees. We’ve seen a direct link between Leadership endorsement and high participation rates, which means more data that can help learning and development teams find the right tools that engage and retain employees.’’ - Rebecca Payne, Organisational Development Manager, IXOM.
3. Define your content messaging and technology
Did you know that 75% of companies see digital learning as important, but only 5% believe they have mastered the content and tech capabilities to make it an accessible and compelling experience?
Your content messaging should be closely aligned with the audience’s motivation that you identified in step one. Ensure you ignite a curiosity to learn by framing the experience with language that your employees connect with.
Technology can be powerfully enabling when it comes to delivering your content. There is a suite of vendors in the market that specialize in the curation of learning and development content, but it’s important to remember the balance of digitization and human intervention.
Sometimes platforms can be overwhelming, so making sure the right learning is delivered to the right area is crucial for sustained engagement. Breaking down courses into microlearning parts and offering on-demand options can ensure there is something on offer for everyone.
'’We can use technology to respond to likely behaviour, with timing and relevance. In thinking about the hiring experience, we can send a message with embedded learning in the moments that matter. Sending digital nudges to people through learning content creates awareness and curiosity, but we need to sustain that engagement. So it needs to be a balance between digital and human intervention.’’ - Sheree Andersen, Director & Co-Founder, The Career Conversation.
4. Determine your mix of media
With so many media types and formats available to us, understanding what to use and when can be a common obstacle in building successful learning and development programs. Do you launch with an email sequence or internal messaging campaign? Maybe you host a weekly podcast to keep the curiosity alive or a themed webinar with a special guest to spike conversation.
No matter what mix of media you decide to implement, there’s one content format that can complement any and all of your communication tactics — video. The Career Conversation has found that learning program engagement doubles when videos are embedded in the employee experience and are one of the only formats that guarantee audience cut-through.
Your organization is also likely to be made up of auditory, visual, and tactile learners, three styles that may seem to warrant a different tactic for each. When, in fact, video can actually engage all learning preferences:
- Auditory - Carefully consider adding curated sound that can support your existing video narrative with the ability to listen only.
- Visual - Overlay iconography onto your raw video footage and make sure to reference their importance in your script.
- Tactile - Use your video call to action to drive employees to an interactive exercise that helps them learn by doing.
‘’It’s a mix of things that truly makes the program work and a strong understanding of your audience. There’s no denying that video works, but we also see great use with SMS when sending reminder nudges. There’s something about using a shortage of characters in the most compelling way. Voice, webinars, and workshops - I’d try to use them all, they each have a slightly different value to add.’’ - Tim Way, Director & Co-Founder, The Career Conversation.
As we begin to move away from reactivity and more towards proactive planning, the priority and quality of learning and development programs will begin to set companies apart.
Refining how we build and deliver content-rich experiences with audience motivation at its core can take our employees from feeling overwhelmed to curious in a matter of weeks.
For more on helping your employees cope, focus, and grow professionally during these exceptional times, watch our Creating Experience & Impact in Digital Learning on-demand webinar.