You can lead, but you can’t make it drink: improve engagement at work

As the age-old mantra goes, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.

Your organisation has taken the time and effort to create lots of great learning content for your employees. However, for your efforts to make a difference, your employees need to embrace the learning culture that you are implementing.

To improve engagement at work, you will need to learn what motivates learners and listen to what they say to help them improve their capabilities. In doing so, you should be able to encourage a culture in which learners complete any mandatory learning whilst taking the initiative to look for additional opportunities to develop their professional capabilities. With 83% of employees actively seeking opportunities in which they can gain new skills in the workplace [1], you shouldn’t have too much difficulty encouraging your employees to soak up your content!

Improve engagement at work with your content and training platform

95% of organisations want to be able to respond faster to the speed of the business [2] but this is only possible with an engaged workforce.

L&D teams are not only under pressure to deliver the ultimate goal of an engaged workforce, but also to source one of the most high-profile pieces of enterprise software within L&D – the Learning Management System (LMS). This can be challenging at the best of times due to a hard-won battle for funding and IT support; 66% of companies view the cost of development, maintenance and set-up of an LMS as a barrier [1].


As such, L&D teams must be able to prove its return on investment through higher levels of recorded employee satisfaction and business performance, regular engagement and increased pass rates on e-learning courses.

Only 28% of learners start their search for learning with their employer’s LMS [2] as 80% of your learners are capable of searching for information themselves in order to be able to do their job, using tools such as Google and other web search resources [3]. L&D teams should want to make their LMS the first port of call.

Four ways to drive mandatory course completion and increase the take-up of optional courses

Learners will make time to learn as 69% of employees want to be able to do their job better or faster [1] – however, 91% of employees like to be able to learn at their own pace [1]. As such, traditional classroom methods are not necessarily as suitable as they have previously been, as the modern learner faces many distractions in the form of emails, texts, websites, apps and video clips all fighting for attention.

New Call-to-actionL&D teams need to recognise this in order to help employees to focus and reprioritise their learning. It is helpful to provide clear signposts guiding employees of what they need to do in order to remain compliance, or how to advance their career – or personal development.

This needs to be easy and fast for learners to receive. With only 5 to 10 seconds for an employer to gain their employees’ attention [1], L&D teams need to work even harder to ensure that you are engaging effectively with your workforce.

1. What, when, how

Ensure that there is just one place where learners can find out what they need to do, by when, and to track how they’re progressing. Learners have reported that they often don’t know what is needed to be done, or by what deadline. By summarising these three pieces of key information, in a dashboard that is easily accessible to the learner, is a good starting point.

2. A job done, is a job well done

Learners like being able to view a record of their learning achievements and to know that they have done what was asked of them, if only in the knowledge that they won’t be chased. It is important for the individual’s line manager to be able to log into the system to view their team’s learning development, to recognise all achievements made and reward accordingly. It is therefore beneficial to clearly present the details of the course that a learner has successfully completed, and find ways in which line managers can quickly acknowledge successful course completion.

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3. Learning is a continual journey

Learning doesn’t stop once the mandatory training is completed. However, once mandatory training is completed, training often gets put on the ‘backburner’ and typically it is not until a performance review or development planning meeting that the subject of what formal learning they should undertake next is raised. However, given that 72% of employees have a clear personal plan about what they want to learn and why [1], it should not take much to prompt the employee to continue their learning journey.

4. Don’t miss out on the next best thing

The modern learner is immersed in a world dominated by social media and a culture where content is shared. 61% of learners are motivated to learn online by using technologies that enable them to network and work with others [1], so ensure that learners are able to rate and comment on the learning content that they’ve experienced. This will help you as an L&D team to understand what is trending within your organisation’s learning and development culture. Make sure to showcase the top-rated courses in the same place!

68% of learners know where to find the learning they need, though 28% then cannot find what it is that they specifically want; help your learners find what they are looking for [4].

Make it easy

Whilst 42% of all online training content used within organisations is compliance-training, by making it as easy as possible for learners to keep on top of their learning, they will find it much easier to engage with your content and platform – regardless of whether the learning is mandatory or optional.

By providing clear signposting for what employees need to do, how well they are progressing towards completing it, and placing clear calls-to-action to nudge them to look for other learning beyond what the organisation mandates they do, you can improve engagement at work.

It pays huge dividends to provide all learners with the ability to rate content so that the courses that have made the greatest impact are publicised and attract a wider audience – indeed, 63% of employees know how to build a personal network to help them to learn [1] so exploit this by playing on their social sharing skills.

Learn brochure[1] Towards Maturity, ‘Unlocking Potential: 2016-17 Learning Benchmark Report’

[2] Degreed, ‘How the Workforce Learns’, 2016

[3] Towards Maturity, ‘The Consumer Learner at Work Report’, 2016

[4] Toward Maturity, ‘The Learner Voice, Part 3’, 2016

[5] Towards Maturity’s ‘In-Focus: Solving the Compliance Conundrum’, 14 June 2017

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