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Stephanie Morgan What’s empathy got to do with it? Our take on learner engagement...

Empathy plays a pivotal role in all learning strategies, whether we are aware of it or not. Empathy is what helps us to understand the needs, motivations, and challenges of our learners, it helps our leaders to lead better and it can even have a drastic influence on whether or not our learners are engaged.

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I’m particularly interested in the latter, which is why this blog explores how empathy can impact learner engagement – and it starts by taking a quick look at how empathy is a marketer’s secret weapon.

For a long time, marketers have been using empathy to engage with their customers, whether that’s through channelling empathy in creative copy or using empathy to really get to know their target audience.

If L&D starts to harness empathy in the same way the marketing industry has perfected, we’ll be well on our way to tackling low learner engagement throughout our organisations.

So, let’s delve a little deeper, and look at the link between empathy, marketing and learner engagement.

Knowing your audience  

Marketers use empathy to really get to know their audience so they can be more effective in their targeting. They do this by asking what customers truly value rather than what will sell.

This is a tactic which L&D professionals could really do with taking on board. After all, understanding the learner (our target audience) is a vital step towards improving learner engagement.

Knowing your learners is an area many L&D professionals are comfortable with – but I’m talking about more than just their work goals, learning styles, and learning preferences.

It’s about knowing what really makes them tick and why they are working for your organisation. By understanding the mindset of your learners, you will be able to present your learning solutions in a way that hooks them into your learning solutions.

And empathy can help you get there.

Getting the message just right

Knowing your audience is one thing but communicating just the right message is another.

Content and copywriting is a key part of a marketer’s toolbox. According to econsultancy, a skilled marketer will create content that evokes empathy, so consumers are more likely to take action - sharing, responding, and even prompting change within their own communities.

In fact, marketer’s place so much value in empathetic copy writing, that they even create tools such as this headline analyser which rates how effective a headline is based on its level of empathy!

This is another use of empathy which L&D professionals should get behind. An effective message which evokes empathy could be the key to improving low learner engagement for your organisation.

A good starting point for creating an empathetic message is to consider what your learners’ values, motivations and challenges are, and how your learning could help resonate with them and ultimately achieve a goal or overcome a challenge.

Just adding a little bit more empathy to your learner engagement strategy will help you on your way to tackling low learner engagement and creating a culture of hungry learners.


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Stephanie Morgan FLPI, Director of Learning Solutions, Bray Leino Learning

Sharing ideas and observations to help improve performance.

Follow @stephanieLandD

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