How to make employee training more engaging

Effective employee training has to be engaging. If it’s not engaging, people won’t do it – no matter how informative it is. The information must be delivered in a way that’s compelling, relevant and digestible. It should inspire not only learning but enthusiasm for the learning. By focusing on engagement up front, you help to ensure that your employees retain more information, have greater confidence in their work and are more likely to stick around for the long haul.

The good news is that there are simple ways to make your training engaging in this way.

1. Know your audience

If you want to engage your team, you first have to understand what your team finds engaging. Make sure you understand your audience/culture and the preferences of the people you’re training. Don’t assume people like games because you like games. Build an experience that allows people to find their own source of engagement.

For example:

  • If your LMS includes gamification features, make sure to include a variety of game types and mechanics. Not all of your team members will enjoy playing games, but some might appreciate the competitive aspects of a leaderboard or the personal fulfillment that comes from earning badges.
  • If your team is tight-knit and socially inclined, you might benefit from a system that provides a social experience. Axonify, for example, employs a social feed that connects users to one another. Participants can encourage one another, share congratulations and engage in friendly competition.
  • If you have team members who engage best with visual learning, make sure that your learning materials include videos and other visual media to help them better comprehend and retain the information.

2. Find out where your training falls short

Before you can make your training more engaging, you have to determine what is and isn’t resonating with employees. If you use a learning management system (LMS), you might already have valuable data that you can refer to, such as participation rates, drop-off rates and even employee feedback results.

You’ll want to use your available data to identify:

  • Which training materials have the greatest and least participation
  • Which training materials have the highest fail rates
  • Which training materials have the highest drop-off rates
  • Which training materials take the longest to complete as compared to expected completion time
  • User-submitted feedback on the training materials

You can also audit the effectiveness of your training by surveying the employees directly.

3. Eliminate ineffective or outdated training materials

Once you understand how the training materials are performing, the next step is to audit the training materials themselves, whether they happen to be LMS modules, videos, written materials or guides for in-person training.

  • Are the materials still relevant?
  • Are they high-quality?
  • Are they up to date?
  • Are they focused on the most essential tasks?
  • Are they needlessly confusing or long-winded?
  • Are they a constant source of frustration for learners?

In other words, this is where you want to apply some critical thinking and determine why some (or all) of your training materials are underperforming. Get rid of materials that are no longer relevant or beyond the scope of the job, and revise materials that can be updated, broken up or clarified.

4. Remove the fluff

Employees have a lot on their plates, and they typically don’t have a ton of time to dedicate to in-depth training every day. This is especially true of employees on the frontline, where time is heavily managed and people only have a few extra minutes during their shift.

With that in mind, you need to get right to the point and build training that focuses on specific concepts, such as microlearning. Microlearning is all about short, fluff-free lessons delivered at regular intervals.

You can easily integrate microlearning into your organization using a modern learning management system (LMS) like Axonify. Axonify stresses short, engaging lessons—each training session can be completed in just a few minutes a day. By micro-focusing your training, you’re helping to make the material more impactful and more likely to stick.

5. Make the experience simple

An engaging learning experience embraces simplicity. It’s about removing friction and building a streamlined experience with minimal frustration.

  • Make learning easy to access on the devices people use every day, including their own. A good learning experience is mobile-friendly, cross-platform and universally accessible.
  • Limit clicks. Make it as simple as watching a YouTube video or scrolling Instagram. Usability is an important factor; your least tech-savvy employees should be able to navigate the system as easily as your most tech-savvy employees.
  • Make sure that everything is minimally bandwidth-intensive. You don’t want to leave your employees waiting for lengthy modules to download and buffer on poor workplace networks.

If the system runs smoothly and is easy to navigate, it will make a noticeable difference in how effectively your employees engage with the content itself.

6. Start early

In this age of record employee turnover, many new employees—especially frontline employees—start working the day they get hired or shortly thereafter. As you may already know, the quality of your onboarding experience can have a massive impact on how these new employees fare in their initial weeks and months.

Make sure that your onboarding is engaging right out of the gate so you set the tone and expectation for learning moving forward. If your onboarding misses the mark, people won’t be excited about future training opportunities.

To ensure an engaging onboarding experience, follow the 7 C’s of onboarding:

  • Connection. Foster a sense of belonging and collaboration right from the beginning.
  • Clarity. Make sure that your new hire understands the company’s vision, goals and objectives and recognizes that their skills are valued within that framework.
  • Compliance. Make sure that your new hire understands the rules and expectations.
  • Culture. Hire team members who align with your company culture and values, and reinforce these elements throughout the onboarding process so that your new hire feels an immediate sense of purpose.
  • Competence. Train your employee in such a way that they not only learn but retain the essential information needed to do their job successfully.
  • Confidence. Make sure that your employee possesses not only the ability but also the confidence to tackle the job like a pro.
  • Care. Make your new hire feel valued and supported throughout the onboarding process and beyond.

Some of these factors can be embedded into your training. For example, you can ensure that your training materials provide clarity about the company’s goals, culture and expectations. You can use Axonify’s confidence assessment feature to measure how an employee’s confidence compares to their actual knowledge, and then provide any necessary assistance if their confidence needs a boost.

7. Reward ongoing effort

Tangible rewards are a great way to motivate the team if such incentives work for your workplace culture. Examples include:

  • Awards and other written recognitions
  • Small pay bonuses
  • Gifts
  • Premium parking
  • Paid time off
  • Other company perks

Some organizations also have employee rewards programs where employees can earn points toward purchases made online. Whatever rewards you choose, make sure that they’re tied to ongoing effort and personal development milestones. There should be consistent and clearly understood guidelines as to how these rewards are earned.

8. Make training part of a career development path

While we’re on the subject of rewards, training instantly becomes more engaging when it’s tied to long-term career advancement. When establishing career development goals for employees, make training part of the prerequisite. You can mandate that the employee complete specific courses or reach specific training milestones prior to advancing to their next role within the company.

For example, if you have a retail associate who wants to become a manager, you may require that they complete courses like “Effective floor supervision,” “Setting performance expectations,” “Delegating to develop,” and “Coaching in real time” (all courses that are available in the Axonify Content Marketplace).

Because the ambitious employee wants to work their way up the ladder, they’ll be more likely to expand their skillset and complete the required courses with an ultimate goal in mind.

Engaged trainees make productive team members

Creating an engaging training program isn’t as challenging as it might seem. It’s all about having a good system in place (e.g. a user-friendly LMS), relevant content, digestible training sessions and a supportive team.

It takes a bit of effort, but if you can get your employees excited about training, you’ll have a team that’s better informed, more confident and more engaged in the work overall.

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