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How to make learning more productive and engaging
Illustration by Grey Vaisius

3 min read

How to make learning more productive and engaging

Workplace learning programs don't have to be dull, soul-crushing time-wasters. Here's how to make learning more productive and engaging.

Learning and development, both formal and informal, not only benefits individual employees, but also the company as a whole. According to research from Bersin & Associates, high-impact learning organizations experience profit growth three times greater than organizations lacking a learning management strategy.

Just because there are learning opportunities in place, however, doesn’t mean the experience is productive or engaging. Instead of spending time and money on something that your employees aren’t going to like, which could cause them to disengage, ask them what they’d prefer. You can also try these ideas to make learning more productive and engaging.

1. Don’t forget about the “how”

Leaders have many opportunities to engage in informal teaching in the workplace—and they should. According to Six Principles of Great Leaders at Work, being a great leader means being a good teacher who gives employees the knowledge and tools to become a better professional.

However, it’s critical that you don’t miss one important element when teaching: the “how.” “Part of being a great teacher is to also provide the how by sharing your technical skills and methods.”

To make learning more productive, frame all learning around the “how” so you don’t forget this critical piece. Instead of simply doing something while an employee watches, put them in the driver’s seat—literally. Walk them through a tool or process, but also give them room to gain hands-on experience by doing it themselves. This makes the experience more engaging and productive for everyone involved.

2. Test a different learning strategy

Not every employee is the same. One individual may prefer to learn by doing, while others learn best by observing others. If an employee isn’t learning at the pace at which you expect them to, test a new strategy.

Blended learning

Blended learning is the best of both worlds. Blending online instruction with in-person interaction results in a more dynamic learning experience and helps employees retain the information much faster than if they were presented with solely a two-hour lecture, according to the guide, Blended Learning: A Training Strategy That Fosters ROI.

The same guide explains that by implementing a blended learning strategy, IBM experienced significant gains because they were able to cut training costs by nearly $200 million, which represented one-third of its training budget.

Consider how you can modify your classroom-only or online-only program to provide a blended experience that caters to all learning preferences.

Classroom-only learning

The 2019 U.S. L&D Report from FindCourses found that, of companies who say employees are highly engaged, 94 percent of them offer classroom training. The report explains, “No other modalities were linked as closely with employee engagement suggesting employees may feel most invested in face-to-face external training.”

Consider partnering with a local college or offering an education stipend for employees who want to further their skills outside the office. This may not only make learning more engaging and productive, but also ensures that you’re only spending L&D budget on employees who actively want to learn.

Micro-learning

Micro-learning is appealing for many reasons, the first being that employees report not having enough time for learning in their workday, according to LinkedIn. Plus, 58 percent of employees prefer to work at their own pace and 49 percent prefer to learn at the point of need.

Micro-learning allows you to address all of these employee needs by offering quick learning. Even better if they can access the modules or lessons whenever they want or need.

3. Make learning more interactive

The same FindCourses report found that, “Companies with revenue growth are more than twice as likely to use innovative technologies such as game-based learning and augmented reality in their L&D offering.”

Implementing interactive elements into your training can make for more engaging and productive learning—and you don’t have to use AR to make that happen. Gamification is an effective method of engaging employees while making learning more productive. A 2018 report from TalentLMS found that 87 percent of employees said they’re more productive with gamification and 84 percent said it makes them more engaged.

Luckily, there are many learning tools that make it easy to gamify learning for your employees. Find the best option for your budget and needs and see how effective it can be.

Conclusion

Employees want to learn, but if the experience is boring or slow, employees will quickly check out. Use these ideas to make the most of learning in your organization. When it’s engaging and productive, your budget is better spent and employees are more likely to derive value from the experience.

About the author

Jessica Thiefels is an entrepreneur and small business owner. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes and Fast Company. She also writes for Business Insider, Virgin, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.


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