5 Tips for Engaging Your Employees in Training and Development.

Employee sentiment on training and development programs can be a mixed bag, some view organisation lead learning as a major benefit, others see it as an added burden; another work related task that they don’t have time for. While the type and quality of training an organisation invests in obviously plays a role, the program’s engagement rates heavily depend on positioning and promoting it correctly.

Here are 5 tips to factor in to make your training and development program a success:

1. Build a Brand

While it may feel like a luxury, crafting the positioning of a learning program is anything but. In fact, the platform you create can be the major differentiator on whether your program lands in the employee’s mind as a perk or a chore. The real kicker is if the platform (or lack of) will compound to work for you or against you as your program matures. Avoid being at the bottom of a mountain with a boulder and invest in nailing a cohesive micro-brand for your program before you launch.

2. Leverage Momentum

As with any behaviour driving campaign, it is smart to leverage any shift in the landscape to put a bit of initial momentum behind the program. Sharpen the purpose of your program by linking it with a bigger movement, such as a change in leadership, new customer win or the launch of a new product. This adds context to the rollout, and primes it to stay at the center of workplace dialogue for at least its initial phase. A strong starting position will pay-off down the line.

3. WIIFM

Many training and development programs are brought in with the admirable intention of future proofing the growth of the company, while this is relevant for launch and awareness, it is the not the primary concern of your employees. Their primary concern is, quite rightly, what’s in it for them, so this is what you need to engage on. Why would someone give up their time and energy to something they don’t see a personal benefit from. From hard gains like pay incentives to softer benefits like C.V. building, put the individual wins front and center.

4. Network Effects

This is a pretty ubiquitous brand and marketing principle, but one that can be utilised to particular affect when it comes to uptake in training and development. Be intentional and strategic around who you choose to champion the program. Often the inclination is to facilitate self selection by putting a call-out for volunteers to share their success, when it would actually be more beneficial to have a stronger hand in who is fronting the program. Incentivising the right people to get involved and on board before launching is the strongest route to impact. Equipping senior leaders and managers with the right messaging around the program is also essential.

5. Continue the Conversation

As you no doubt know, getting people to engage at the outset is the easy part, keeping people engaged is the real challenge. If you’ve factored in all of the above, you’ve put yourself in a strong position to do so, however, it’s certainly not job done. A content plan that supports continuous engagement is essential. I’m not just talking about dry reminders to log back in, (although I would not discount those!), consider things like success stories, tips for staying on track and making the most of the program, recognising milestones, group dialogue sessions. Build the program into your employees regular conversations and  architect dialogue.

Training and development programs pose a massive opportunity for employers to build competitive competencies internally (thereby cutting reliance on recruitment and market supply), but equally to enhance employee experience, influence organisational culture and build a competitive employer brand. The crux of it all is ensuring your employees buy into it as much as you do! Check out our Bank of Ireland case study to get a sense of how a creative platform can galvanise employees around an internal program.

I’d love to hear what particular challenges or wins you’ve seen with your own training and development programs. If you fancy having a chat, drop me a line at aisling@atomic.ie.