How to improve employee engagement with your training activities
There are a lot of effective ways to train employees, but not all training programs are carried out effectively. In other words, it’s not just about the methods you use to train your employees; it’s about whether or not you utilize those methods in an engaging way. Whether you’re using videos, games or instructor-led training, there are simple ways you can get more from your training efforts.
Live, in-person training can, in some cases, be more engaging than solitary learning because it has more of a human element with positive reinforcement. Participants can receive instant feedback and ask questions in real time.
Instructor-led training may be completed in groups or one-on-one. There are benefits to both approaches. With group sessions, there’s more of a social element that can be motivating to some people. With one-on-one sessions, trainees get more one-on-one attention and tailored coaching.
How to make it more engaging: Make sure that any instructor-led training is interactive. If you bring people into a room (in person or virtually), the experience must be designed to promote discussion, sharing and collaboration. If they’re just there to listen, it’s better to just make a video.
Videos offer several benefits for learning. They’re a great way to present complex information (such as tutorials) where visuals are needed to guide explanation in ways that text cannot provide. In addition, several studies have linked video learning to improved retention in various fields.
Video-based training can be done on its own, or videos can be embedded into LMS training modules to supplement other training. And with so many free and premium tools available, it’s now easier than ever for anyone to make high-quality training videos in minutes.
How to make it more engaging: If you want to make an engaging video (or any other digital content), make sure it’s only as long as it needs to be. Keep it short, to the point and designed for its intended use. If you’re using third-party videos for training (such as from YouTube or an LMS content library), make sure that the content adheres to these same standards.
Role-playing gives you the opportunity to simulate live workplace scenarios with the team. It’s especially popular for customer service interactions, which is why it can work well for frontline training.
While role-playing can be fun and engaging for the right people in the right situations, it’s important to understand that many people hate or fear role plays, especially when practicing new skills.
How to make it more engaging: Don’t force people to participate, at least right away. That can be bad for employee morale. Allow people to observe, make notes and discuss how their fellow team members complete scenarios. Then offer the opportunity to apply their insights in their own scenarios.
Guest speaker events
Guest speaker events can be great for reinvigorating your team when they’re tired of looking at the same faces every day. It’s as simple as having an expert from outside the organization come and deliver an informative lecture—like a training session disguised as a TED Talk.
The benefit here is that people are often more willing to accept new ideas when they come from outside experts.
How to make it more engaging: If you want to boost employee engagement with a guest speaker event, make sure that the speaker knows their stuff and can contextualize it to your workplace. You don’t want them to just deliver the same cookie-cutter presentation they’d deliver anywhere. The information must be relatable, directly relevant and delivered in an engaging way. When considering an outside speaker, it can be helpful to review any past speaking engagements they’ve done (if available) to determine how effectively they’re able to communicate their expertise to a crowd.
In an employee mentorship situation, a green or less experienced employee is paired with a more seasoned peer who shows them the ropes and helps them to feel more at home within the organization. They might provide some level of hands-on training and coaching while also answering questions that new hires might feel uncomfortable asking a supervisor.
This exchange can be good for both training and relationship-building within the organization, and according to a survey from CNBC, 9 in 10 workers with a career mentor say they’re happy in their jobs.
How to make it more engaging: Don’t overly formalize mentorship. Help people find potential mentors, especially outside their own teams or locations, by highlighting experience, skills and other relevant attributes. But don’t try to make it a formal program that turns a positive relationship into another work chore.
What is microlearning? It’s all about training your team members in short bursts on a regular basis. For instance, if you manage a frontline workforce, you want to use a frontline LMS that fits the needs of your team. Each lesson should be densely packed with relevant, custom-tailored information and delivered in just a few minutes a day. Most importantly, it should fit seamlessly within the flow of work. Employees should be able to access the lessons on the devices they use every day, and the lessons shouldn’t impede productivity.
Microlearning aligns with how people learn, especially in busy environments like the frontline, and that’s what makes it so effective. Just check out our guide outlining all of the specific benefits of microlearning.
How to make it more engaging: As with most of the employee engagement ideas in this article, the key is to keep it short, to the point and focused on a specific topic. In addition, make sure to incentivize employees to come back to it day after day. Research shows that microlearning can vastly improve retention, but only if regular reinforcement is part of the process. So how do you incentivize employees to complete their lessons each day? One simple way is with gamification, which leads us to our next point.
Gamification can take the benefits of microlearning even further when these two training methods are combined. It shouldn’t be confused with game-based learning. With game-based learning, the game provides the learning experience. With gamification, the game mechanics are incorporated into traditional learning methods. Both can be effective ways to keep employees engaged (when done right).
For instance, Axonify uses game mechanics like leaderboards, badges, points and casual gaming (optional gaming that is separate from the primary learning) to make the microlearning experience more engaging. Gamification has been shown in studies to benefit workplace productivity, mental health, engagement and collaboration across generations.
How to make it more engaging: Don’t assume everyone will be motivated by the same tactics. Some people are turned off by the idea of competing for bragging rights with other team members; others would rather focus on the lessons and skip the games. Provide options and allow each team member to customize the learning experience with the game mechanics that they find most appealing. Let them attach their own motivations to the experience.
Whereas gamification deals with game mechanics in a traditional learning environment, game-based learning is all about live training activities—usually in a group setting—that involve a more direct level of fun and competition.
For example, many workplaces are using popular game-based learning platforms like Kahoot to facilitate training quizzes and other fun employee engagement activities.
How to make it more engaging: Game-based learning should be done sparingly and with a purpose. Even people who enjoy playing games can only play so much. Write good questions that actually challenge people, and provide additional details so people walk away with new information rather than just guessing to earn points.
Open discussions are low-stakes conversations on a specific topic where everyone is free to share or just listen in. These discussions may allow team members to ask questions about aspects of the training they don’t understand, or they may encourage employees to make suggestions about how to improve the training or company processes in general.
Though many open discussions have a central theme or topic, the facilitator can also just open up the floor to whatever topics the team would like to present—whether related to new ideas, general concerns or the company culture. While it’s less formal than a traditional training session, it’s a great way for team members to learn from one another and from the facilitator in a less structured environment.
These types of discussions can also be facilitated in a virtual training environment. For instance, Axonify’s Communicate feature allows employees to be a part of the conversation at any time, asking clarifying questions through reactions and comments. This can be an excellent solution for employees who can’t attend these discussions in person.
How to make it more engaging: Keep the discussions low-stakes and low-pressure. Encourage employee feedback and participation, but don’t mandate it—and don’t put people on the spot if they would rather just listen and observe.
Upskilling, reskilling, and cross-training
Introducing new skills can reinvigorate employees who want to advance in the organization or who are tired of revisiting the same concepts repeatedly. It also benefits the company as a whole, as upskilling and reskilling are becoming increasingly essential in the COVID and post-COVID world.
Upskilling is about improving a person’s skills within their current role. Reskilling is about training them up for new roles. Cross-training is about preparing them for additional roles and responsibilities within the same job. These skills can be imparted using any of the training methods on this list; it’s all about expanding the area of focus beyond the employee’s primary responsibilities. For more information, refer to our guide to upskilling, reskilling and cross-training.
How to make it more engaging: Don’t wait for people to need skills or for your business to be short on talent to use these tactics. Make skill development a continuous part of the job through tactics like microlearning and gamification. Help people prioritize their development so they’re building the skills they’ll need to be successful in the future.
How to foster a team of engaged employees
Whether you’re using games, role-play or structured LMS micro-lessons to engage employees, there are a few universal rules to keep in mind:
- Keep your employee engagement training activities short and to the point
- Make sure that the information is relevant to the learner
- If any aspect of the training is designed to be fun, it shouldn’t be forced on people
- Give learners the freedom to choose the experience that best suits them
- If a particular learning objective isn’t resonating, switch it up
With a basic employee engagement strategy (combined with a strong support team and work-life balance), you can improve not only the level of engagement but also the level of acquisition and retention—and that will benefit your organization in both the short and long term.