Learning And Development’s Vital Role In Nurturing Engaged Employees

Learning And Development’s Vital Role In Nurturing Engaged Employees
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Summary: When it comes to top learning organizations, we found that they commonly possess 7 habits that build staff engagement. Read this article to find out what these habits are and how Learning and Development can help foster more engaged employees in today's ever-changing environment.

How Learning And Development Can Nurture Engaged Employees  

A happy, engaged, motivated workforce that wants to learn new skills and improve job performance is what we all want – Learning and Development, managers, business leaders, and employees themselves. Unfortunately, according to the management consultancy Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace, only 13% of employees worldwide are engaged at work.

Gallup’s researchers studied the differences in performance between engaged and actively disengaged work units and found that those scoring in the top half on employee engagement nearly doubled their chances of success compared to those in the bottom half. They also reported 21% improved productivity, 22% improved profitability, and 10% improved customer satisfaction.

These findings tell the same story as numerous pieces of our own research, including one of our latest In-Focus Reports, Building Staff Engagement. In this report, we have identified what makes a highly engaged workforce and what role Learning and Development must play in achieving it.

What is clear, is that Learning and Development has an essential role to play in ensuring staff are engaged. Two themes that emerged very strongly in the report and in Towards Maturity’s New Learning Agenda are the importance of learner-centricity and technology. Modern learners want choice, breadth, flexibility, and technology-enabled learning. But findings from our 2015 research, The Learner Voice: Part 2, found that there is a stark difference between what Learning and Development is offering and learners’ preferences and needs.

7 Strategies That Help Learning And Development Teams Foster Engaged Employees 

When it comes to top learning organizations (defined in our benchmarking process), we found that they commonly possess 7 habits. These organizations:

  1. Understand learners.
  2. Make inspiring, relevant, and accessible content.
  3. Equip stakeholders with the right resources.
  4. Support learning in the workplace.
  5. Minimize the barriers that can lead to poor engagement.
  6. Develop a strategy for winning hearts and minds.
  7. Celebrate success.

Furthermore, compared to the average organization, top learning organizations are more than twice as likely to:

  • Allow staff to work at home.
  • Involve managers, trainers, and users in the design of content.
  • Equip line managers with resources so that their teams get the most out of technology-enabled learning.
  • Provide access to job aids online or via mobile devices.
  • Complete and report on pilot projects before implementing major learning initiatives.
  • Ensure that there is a communication plan in place for all key stakeholders.
  • Regularly communicate learning successes to senior management.

Top learning organizations are making good use of technology enabled-learning and they are reaping the benefits. Our 2014 Towards Maturity Benchmark Report shows that they are over four times as likely to report improved staff motivation and engagement, improved ability to engage new types of learners and improved speed of response to business change.

Understanding Modern Learners

The starting point for Learning and Development has to be looking at its learners, understanding their needs and preferences and what motivates them. Today’s learners expect a lot of choice; want to learn at their own pace and on their device of choice. Technology is key – 63% of learners want to engage with online learning, four-in-five are willing to share what they know with others online, and 55% are motivated by using tools that will help them network and learn from others.

Learning and Development needs to design technology-enhanced learning interventions that really engage with learners and support their needs. Four out of five Learning and Development professionals are turning to technology-enabled learning to improve staff motivation and retention, yet only 20% report actual improvement.

Our research shows that learners are keen to engage:

  • 63% are happy to engage in online learning without prompting.
  • 82% are looking for self-paced learning.
  • 50% are looking for learning on the go.

Yet, Learning and Development confidence in learner enthusiasm is low, with 57% of professionals saying learners are reluctant to use technology and it’s a barrier to implementation. This begs the question: Is Learning and Development providing the learning that learners want?

Hitting The Mark: Nurturing Engaged Employees

Top learning organizations are more than twice as likely to support learners’ career aspirations, allow access to a broad range of non-job related learning, and allow staff to learn at places convenient to them. They are also much more likely to involve others in the learning design process, whether it is managers, classroom trainers, or users. Top learning organizations also foster further user engagement by encouraging them to generate relevant content, add to wikis, develop blogs, and more.

Having a learning culture is key to the New Learning Agenda. To achieve it, organizations have to support and encourage collaboration. Learners are already using technologies to communicate with each other, connecting to internal and external networks. Organizations need to facilitate this, supporting learning communities and action learning sets.

Learning and Development needs to have the whole business on board. The entire organization needs to believe in and support a technology-enabled learning culture. Business leaders and managers need to champion it and the learning successes of individuals and teams need to be celebrated.

Learning and Development can’t afford to leave any of this up to chance; it needs to engage with what learners want and need and then provide it.

The Towards Maturity Benchmark™

The Towards Maturity Benchmark is a useful tool to help you understand how effective your Learning and Development strategies are and how you compare to peers and top performing learning organizations.

If you are keen to find out how effective your Learning and Development team is, make sure you benchmark this year: it’s open until 31 July. More than 4,000 organizations have taken part to date, so there is plenty of data for you to benchmark against.

Start Your Benchmark