L&D A Key Driver Of Employee Engagement In 2021 And Beyond

Elevating Employee Engagement Through L&D
Summary: Engaged employees are more productive; tend to innovate more, as they think for the organization; and, make better decisions for the business and customers. It's time for organizations to invest in L&D to impact behaviors, productivity, leadership, career development, and collaboration.

Elevating Employee Engagement Through L&D

It’s no secret that organizations that invest in L&D are better positioned to engage employees and in turn support business growth. According to LinkedIn’s 2020 Workplace Learning Report, around 35% of L&D professionals are looking for newer ways to increase learner engagement. An engaged workforce reaps a multitude of benefits, from higher productivity and lower turnover to satisfied customers.

Before we deep dive into exploring how L&D can play a crucial role in advancing employee engagement, let’s first understand who is an engaged employee and what are the factors contributing to having an engaged workforce?

An engaged employee is committed to their organization, works with passion, takes pride in the job, shows a willingness to go the extra mile, and puts discretionary efforts into their work. To fit the bill of an engaged employee, they need to be emotionally as well as rationally committed to the organization.

An emotionally committed employee is invested in the brand, looks forward to working with the teams, and feels motivated to be in the work environment in order to perform and excel. On the other hand, the rational commitment is more about the employee realizing and foreseeing their professional growth through opportunities provided by the organization such as learning, motivation, validation, recognition, mentorship, on-site opportunities, and more.

Employee Engagement In The New Normal

Be it any organization, validation, recognition, and feedback have been the key components of employee engagement. However, these three factors are being looked at through a different lens in the new context owing to the missing human, in-person gap. Given the mounting anxiety and apprehensions around decision-making, collaboration, and leadership, employee expectations pertaining to validation, recognition, and feedback have only increased.

For department heads/managers providing all these three virtually poses another world of challenges. The missing social connect has changed the culture of the workplace. The focus has moved from controlling to coping, touch to technology, work-life balance to work-life synergy, sense of belonging to sense of well-being, performing the job to going the extra mile.

The Role Of L&D In Elevating Employee Engagement In The New Normal

L&D will play a pivotal role in ensuring that employees find quick and effective solutions for their new problems even on a budget. They can begin with putting the spotlight on leveraging technology, formulating relevant and effective learning methodologies, and strengthening leadership. A sense of growth is also a very important element of employee engagement. L&D can help employees not only have a strong perception of how a company cares about their personal and professional growth but also create a sense of common goal.

With the new demands of employees, L&D can help bring back the sense of satisfaction employees have in their improved ability to perform the tasks in the new environment. Rapid digital transformation across functions and teams is also creating new skill gaps that make employees nervous. L&D plays a big role in closing these gaps, ensuring employees feel more confident. Effective employee engagement programs that target the core of how an employee perceives and feels about the company will create a better and more long-term pool of budding leaders.

How Can Organizations Engage Employees Through L&D In 2021 And Beyond

The immediate thing that L&D teams can do to engage employees in 2021 and beyond is to be human. 2020 was not just a business cycle event, it was an event that touched each life in many ways, leaving most people anxious, nervous, and even scared both for their work and for life. Going forward, putting people first will not only be the key, but the right thing to do, besides having honest, open, and clear communication.

Quick, planned, and long-term L&D initiatives will reduce anxiety and also help employees feel more confident and capable with fewer skill gaps. While transferring the responsibility of learning to the employees, ensuring they have access to help and content is key. 2021 and beyond will call for a stronger need to embed learning in the workflow to reduce additional demands on time from already stretched employees. A stronger focus on areas like digital transformation, collaboration, communication, and agility will help prepare employees for future uncertainties.

In Conclusion

Engaged employees will always outperform the non-engaged ones by a large margin. More engaged employees will result in better organization performance from sales to customer service, resulting in a better top-line and bottom-line. L&D is the key driver and is at the core of employee engagement. Providing L&D opportunities reflects that the organization is willing to invest in the employees. The company’s employee engagement strategy has the opportunity and power to transform the business and culture into something that the employees are proud to work for.

It is imperative that the employees are able to believe that the future belongs to those who are not afraid of such uncertainties but who can quickly adapt along with the company to withstand the tough times. L&D can play a very big role in helping employees feel confident and respected. L&D has the opportunity to redesign the learning culture of the company to one that is agile, innovative, and human at its core.