Four steps to employee engagement

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Written by Liam Butler on 8 September 2017

Thanks in large part to the pervasiveness of brands like Amazon, Netflix and Spotify, we are now seeing their influence reach beyond the business and consumer arenas and into education. While each of the above has obvious mass appeal, they also excel in having a very personal appeal.

Think of how each brand works at tracking individual selections and then, based upon them, offering suggested titles, movies or music that might interest you. I have taken up on their recommendation on many occasions and somewhat reluctantly must admit they appear to know me better than I know myself.
It is surprisingly easy to meet these demands and deliver learning programmes that match learner preferences
So it is hardly surprising that, what we now experience as consumers, we seek as learners. And technology can deliver this in a way not conceivable in the past.
This means your organisation’s L&D efforts must change, too, in order to keep pace with changing employee preferences.
Already most of us are turning to YouTube, Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), Ted Talks and a host of other channels to find engaging, easy to digest content that is personalised to our particular interests and goals. So why not our employer?
The good news is that it is surprisingly easy to meet these demands and deliver learning programmes that match consumer, or learner if you prefer, preferences. 
All it takes is four easy-to-follow steps:
1. Make your content relatable
It’s all about the individual. Everything is now increasingly personalised, so learning content must follow suit and be relatable because it “speaks” to us.
Think of an episode of a popular TV show such as Game of Thrones where we, as the viewer, get so familiar with a particular character we almost feel we know them.
This is what you want to recreate in your training videos, that sense of familiarity. It may sound odd, but this form of learning creates empathy and relatability between the character and the learner and, ultimately, makes the message stick.
We found that around five minutes is the ideal length for a learning module
2. Keep sessions short
It isn’t called Instagram without good reason. Between emails, texts, Facebook, Twitter, SnapChat and more, we are constantly bombarded with demands for our time and attention.
So to ensure a learner invests time in your programmes, you have to make the most of their time.  
At SumTotal we found, through periodic testing and surveys, that around five minutes is the ideal length for a learning module long enough to convey an important lesson, and short enough to sustain interest so the facts are retained. 
3. Allow self-guided learning
When you combine personal development with professional development, L&D becomes more valuable and meaningful. If, for example, an employee wants to learn about time management, they should be able to do their own search and then pick and choose from the best books, videos and courses on the topic.
Employees should be able to read, watch, or listen to content to suit their needs. In time, I think we will see more companies allowing employees access to public material, which in turn will enable learners to compile a variety of personally selected content and gain learning credit for it.
4. Invest in consumer-led technology
The future of learning isn’t just personalised, it’s also real-time. If, as a manager, you are dealing with a difficult situation at work, you need to have immediate access to information that enables you to solve the problem quickly and effectively.
To facilitate this, it is vital you find the right technology partner who can offer a truly consumer-led experience and can provide technical and even strategic support to help you to stay ahead of the latest trends, while also continuing to make it as easy as possible for you and your learners to use. 
As we continue to see companies invest (and rightly so) in their employees, I think it makes good business sense that the investment appeals to the intended audience  and that it not only engages, but encourages greater learning and retention.
About the author
Liam Butler is VP Corporate Sales EMEA at SumTotal, a Skillsoft company


Read more about engagement here

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