The traditional learning landscape has come under attack in recent years from people like Charles Jennings, challenging us to adopt 70:20:10 principles; and Julian Stodd, making the case for social leadership and embracing and building communities. All the while, technology and digital solutions are constantly evolving.
There has never been so much choice about how to deploy learning.
In addition, L&D have been faced with reports about how learners want easy access and speedy learning; how they want ‘just in time’ solutions. Learners also seem to have become apathetic and immune to the myriad of options available to them. With so much choice, they make no choice at all, or worse, they feel they ‘should’ do some learning, just like going to the gym. They might even sign up to some learning, but they don’t actually follow through.
So, how do L&D work their way through this disruption and measure how healthy their learning culture is and implement ways to improve learner engagement?
Signs of low engagement
First you need to know where you are currently, how hungry your learners are, and establish where to start. Identify signs of low engagement within your organisation to gain a clear understanding of your current situation.
The typical signs of low learner engagement fall into two main areas, attitudinal - how they felt about learning, and, physical - how they accessed the learning. You’ll recognise this in your organisation if you see signs such as:
- Learners don’t have enough time to undertake learning
- They don’t see the relevance of learning to them
- They book onto programmes but drop out at the last minute
- People don’t have the support of their manager
- They are part of a long-standing workforce who, over the years, have become apathetic at best, and cynical at worst
Put simply, you don’t see these objections where there is a good learner engagement. When learners know what’s in it for them, when they are clear about the value the learning will provide to both them and the business, they make time. And when managers realise the pivotal role they play in inspiring their teams to learn, encouraging, coaching and nurturing their development, they make their own jobs easier and achieve more.
A simple engagement process
Once you’ve identified low engagement within your organisation, what are the next steps to converting your culture? Our simple engagement process comes from experienced marketers, yet anyone can apply it, even a complete novice. Applying each step will make a big difference and you will see your learner engagement improve.
1. What is your brand? - This is your identity as an L&D department. What do you stand for? What type of service or product can people expect from you?
2. Know your audience - Who are they? What sort of people are they? What do they want? This isn’t their learning styles, you need to know what really makes them tick.
3. What is your message? - What are you trying to convince them of? What are you really saying? How creative or disruptive can (or should) you be with your messaging?
4. Marketing mix - How will you talk to them? What different ways can you get your message across? Which channels of communication are right for your audience? And which are most likely to get noticed?
5. Plan the campaign - Schedule the different messages, the different communication channels and times they will go out. Plan it!
6. Evaluation - Measure how effective different mediums were, which messages resonated the most and carry out A/B testing. Keep developing your approach – evaluate, refine, evaluate, refine and repeat!
When looking at the process, all of the stages are important, but one area that L&D has neglected in the past is brand. It is vital that you get clarity on your L&D brand (as well as understanding how that fits in with your overall organisational brand). Being clear about your brand doesn’t just mean a flash logo, or the colours you will use on your templates, it has to 'bring to life' what you really stand for.
My top tip for success, though, is to get into the hearts and minds of our learners - we need to make it obvious to them that learning is worth doing, and that they personally will gain from it.
We explore this in more detail in our learner engagement whitepaper, which looks at these steps in more detail, how you can establish your learning culture and how you can reignite interest in learning within your business.
Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning
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