One of the numerous challenges faced by contemporary leaders in business is the ever important issue of employee engagement. Countless managers and executives have no doubt wondered over the last few years, they could solve the problem of apathy and mediocre productivity stemming from lukewarm morale and just enough personal drive for employees to “do just enough” to get by without being singled out for criticism.
This is a very real and endemic problem in many organizations and can be traced to numerous factors that are in constant existence within an employee’s sphere of influence every day. Low pay and monotony are two primary contributors, especially in fields such as retail, manufacturing and tourism – specifically the hotel business.
Other factors known to contribute to unenthusiastic staff performance are low, or no possibilities for career advancement and inflexible work schedules that make it difficult for individuals to take advantage of time off to enjoy for themselves or with family. Although money is an important factor, it is not always the bottom line with everyone. Very often lackluster performance can be contributed to a combination of variables that aggregately function to minimize people’s engagement with their work life.
Fortunately, for many groups suffering from this dilemma, there is an effective solution at hand that is able to be developed and implemented in a relatively short period of time. One may be curious as to what wizardry needs to be performed to fix their problems and help staff perform to their full potential. The answer quite simply, is not wizardry – it is technology, and this particular species goes by the name of “Elearning.”
It needs to be noted at the outset that Elearning is not a cure-all. It can and has been effectively employed to stimulate employees’ desire to learn and grow professionally, which tends to have an overall positive effect on people’s engagement with their everyday routine and tasks. It cannot cure personal sloth or laziness, and has limited efficacy on endemic boredom. However when applied properly, it can and does address many of the issues touched on above that can contribute to minimal engagement and average job performance.
Elearning by its nature, is an individual activity that is designed to provide numerous individuals at different levels of operation throughout an organization with a consistent and clear set of skills gained from knowledge that is passed on digitally. This is not achieved by plunking someone down at a computer terminal and having them read screen upon screen of handbook style text that has been a predominant feature of many groups training manuals of the past.
Success in employee training through Elearning that leads to markedly improved job engagement and subsequent elevated performance is in fact attainable through engagement with the Elearning program and course material itself.
“Engagement in knowledge acquisition and the learning process, leads to active and willing engagement in people’s work related endeavors.” -Unknown
What this means in essence, is that like positivity becoming contagious, engagement can also rub off on the individual and become ingrained in others surrounding them. When someone is actually interested in the learning material, they can become invested in the process of knowledge enrichment that directly lends itself to engagement, quality of work like improvement (attitude and perspective), and eventually to professional advancement.
How can such an end result be achieved through digital training? We are glad you asked. There exist numerous methods of effectively presenting an Elearning course to staff that will have them engaged and actively involved in the learning process. Development and implementation of these methods within a program is crucial to its success. Presenting the learner with and absorbing and interesting experience, while at the same time keeping technical operation and navigation at levels most anyone can use is the keystone to effective Elearning. Balancing a “Wow!” factor with ease-of-use is what characterizes quality digital programs.
Achieving learner engagement is approachable through a few different techniques. A great standby that is recommended in almost all programs is the use of attractive color in page design and images that catch the eye. When this is coupled with audio (narration and or music) and optional video clips within the body of material, learners are drawn into the material and tend to respond positively through engagement and course completion.
Another excellent method that can be used to engage employees in Elearning courses is that of interactive participation. This enables the learner to actually affect the outcome of their studies. This is most often achieved through the simple application of knowledge checks appearing in the form of short quizzes during navigation, or more involved tests usually taking place at the conclusion of a specific module.
For more advanced interactive features, Elearning turns to the use of “Gamification,” which as it sounds, is the actual employment of course related games within the material that challenge the learner’s knowledge and application skills.
Also included within this category a dual purpose tool that not only enhances engagement but effectively assists the learner in ease-of-use and program navigation. Basically, an avatar or character is written into the program that acts as a course guide and information dispenser that travels alongside the learner throughout the duration of the Elearning application. If any troubleshooting needs to be addressed, the avatar functions as a first line of defence.
In the same vein, another attribute of Elearning is the possibility of live support. If employees run into problems, or have questions related to course material, they have the ability to access online forums to pose questions to other users who may have faced the same challenges and can offer advice or solutions. For more involved issues, actual help lines (either by phone or email) can optionally be set up by the company through the existing LMS or organizational Intranet. This ensures that although the learner is participating in Elearning as an individual, they are never actually truly on their own.
Through the use of technology properly applied to quality, well researched and designed Elearning, it does indeed become possible to enhance your employee’s engagement through knowledge enrichment and new skills acquisition. When people feel like they are included and that their contributions matter, they become invested in the overall good of the organization for everyone involved. Furthermore, when employees recognize that by acquiring fresh knowledge and new skill sets, they are setting themselves up for improved job performance that within a successful company can lead to opportunities such as improved pay and future promotion. Elearning courses that employ engaging techniques within their design and structure can indeed accomplish all of these things and more.