When you are looking to introduce a new or updated online training program to your employees, you may be asking yourself questions like “Besides mandating attendance and course completion, what can be done to ensure staff participation and learner engagement?”
Questions like this represent valid concerns when it comes to online training. With today’s modern eLearning, there are many quality courses out there that engage the employee within the course material. Employing learning technologies such as interactive role play and gamification are just a couple of strategies that facilitate this. For more information on interactive assets check out our blog How Enhanced Online Training Games Can Help Employees Level Up.
Encouraging interest in the course material itself is a credible method to ensure staff motivation to attend and complete the training. But what else can you do to help interest the learner to turn on the computer and spend another half hour on training? Fortunately the answers are out there and there are quite a few of them. Interestingly, most of them pertain to what you can do around the training itself – in other words, they are means of support for the learner outside of the actual learning paradigm.
First and foremost, it is absolutely crucial to develop corporate training goals before any design is begun. What is the objective of the training? What do you want your employees to know or be able to accomplish upon course completion? Having definitive training goals not only clarifies the direction you need to move in when building elearning, it allows you to clearly communicate what is expected of all employees involved in the program. When people know what they need to achieve in order to improve their knowledge and skill set, they are more likely to be diligent in working the course.
Understanding the audience that the training is being offered to is the second most important element involved in learner motivation. Their demographics including such components as age, job experience and technical proficiency – all directly contribute to the type of online training that will be offered. For a closer look please refer to our Three Questions to Ask Before Building E-learning blog. If a training course is chosen randomly around a pre-fab template instead of being tailored to the industry, company and employees that it needs to address, there will be a disconnect with the learners – resulting in disinterest and attendance attrition. Know your people and customize accordingly!
Let your personnel know about the advantages that are inherent to online training. Whether through company publications, memos or H.R. posters, employees need to understand the relevance of online training and how it applies to them. Some companies employ the practice of actual meetings or orienteering sessions designed to introduce staff to the concept and familiarise them with the new technology. Once a learner understands that elearning does not have to be a chore, they will be much more inclined to attend regularly.
One of the simplest yet most important benefits you can reference is flexibility. Online training allows for the learner to take in the material at their convenience, whether during downtime at work, or at home. And with advancements in mobile learning (mLearning), many employees can now experience the material on their smartphones or tablets, regardless of where they are.
At the same time that you advertise such advantages as learner flexibility, let your employees know that the training is not a free-for-all. While they can study at their own pace, they need to understand that they will be responsible to finish certain sections by a scheduled deadline.
Help them understand that through the company LMS, their progress will be tracked through quizzes and tests designed to reinforce their knowledge retention. Attendance can also be tracked using the same methods; as can fulfillment of course requirements. When staff comes to realise that their performance is quantifiable and will indeed be followed, they are much more likely to do the footwork and make an honest attempt at successful course completion.
Once more, simultaneous to alerting your learners that they will indeed be supervised for course progression, make them aware that you have established a support plan. Big Brother in this case, is not just for policing their actions. He is there to lend sincere assistance. The support should be geared towards guidance and coaching, rather than “management.”
Employees who are experiencing challenges in any area of the training need to feel at ease about contacting support for assistance. They will not do this if they feel they are being watched and judged by management for their inability to complete the training on their own. Do not run your support plan through H.R. It may be difficult for management to understand because they often work directly with H.R. but generally speaking regardless of industry, there is an overall distrust of this particular department amongst the staff rank and file.
Once your people are comfortable with the fact that support is truly available for helping reasons, they will be much more likely to engage in challenging online training content. Options for support techniques are numerous and varied. They can include such services as contact information for live or online mentors, employee group chat rooms and forums or even something as real-time as a help desk phone number. As mentioned earlier, your choices cover a wide range of options and it is up to you to decide what will be most useful to your employees.
Along the same lines as official assistance, you would also do well to foster a community-based work environment for your employees. This is simply a workplace learning culture that encourages co-workers to come together to solve problems through collaboration after the training session. When learners know that they are supported by their peers, they will be much more comfortable to tackle areas of training that they may find intimidating. For example someone who is weaker in math skills may put off the “statistics” section of their training, or fail to take it altogether – regardless of deadlines and expectations. Collaborative learning in the workplace can go a long way to alleviating such an issue.
In the wide world of online training, there are many different variables that you can apply to your company’s elearning program that are geared toward the enhancement of employee participation. Mandated attendance is the tip of the iceberg. However it is recommended that if you want staff to be truly motivated to experience training, compulsion should be the least prominent feature that you employ. With all the learner-friendly approaches to motivation available to you, tactics of persuasion far outreach those of intimidation. This is how employees succeed with elearning.