11 Tactics That’ll Make Your Employees Care About Learning

August 22, 2016

The key metric for most learning and development teams is usage of their learning programs, with the obvious goal to increase it. Yet that’s often a challenge, as frankly many employees have an apathetic approach to learning.

How do you change that? How can you, as a learning and development team, make your employees actually care about the training you offer?

It isn’t easy, as there’s no one lever you can pull to change human behavior. However, here are 11 tactics – if done in concert together – that can make employees truly care about the learning opportunities you are offering them.

1.    First off, make sure your classes are strong.

This is obviously the most important. If your training isn’t spectacular, people just aren’t going to care about it.

What does great training look like? It comes down to both quality and relevance. The more your training effectively teaches the skills your people want or need to learn, the more it will resonate with your audience.

2.    Offer a wide variety of learning options

Employees learn in different ways. Some prefer elearning courses they can watch on their own time, others prefer in-person training, and the majority prefer a combination of both.

To accommodate everyone, offer a wide range of learning opportunities, from in-person to elearning courses to job shadowing. If you reach an employee through one of these means, you increase the chances of them trying out some of the other mediums as well.

3.    Ensure people can access your elearning courses anywhere, anytime

We know that people tend to watch elearning courses between 7 and 9 a.m. and between 4 and 6 p.m. Why?

Because people are clearly watching videos on their commute, perhaps on the train or the subway. The point is you want people to be able to consume your elearning courses on their time, around their schedule.

4.    Have your CEO talk about the skills he or she is working to improve

Alright, now we get to the tactful moves you can do – aside from improving your learning program – that can start making your employees care more about learning. And, like anything, it begins with the top.

If the leader of your company talks about the skills they are looking to improve and the specific training class they are taking to improve it, it will have a ripple effect throughout your entire organization. Overnight, more people will begin to prioritize learning.

5.    Make learning part of your performance reviews

Along those lines, invariably managers will point out “areas for improvement” in performance reviews. While pointing out those areas is great, it is far better to provide a solution as well.

That’s where your learning program comes in. Reach out to managers and give them classes that help improve a specific skill – i.e. better collaboration, better presenting skills, etc – so they can include those in their performance reviews.

6.    Give recognition to people who are participating

You want to highlight the people who are participating in your learning programs. How to do that is limited by your budget and creativity, but there are a plethora of options.

For example, you could give out company swag to particularly dedicated learners. Or, better yet, you could talk to an active learner and ask them how learning has helped their career, and then cascade that story throughout the company.

7.    Make learning competitive – in a fun way

Gamification – i.e. turning learning into a friendly competition – is a surefire way to raise interest in your learning program. Challenge your workers to see who can take the most classes, and give out free shirts (or something else cool) to the winners. Not only does this increase usage, it also builds morale.

8.    Send out a learning newsletter

Granted, a lot of you probably already do this, but it’s about making this newsletter as dynamic as possible.

For example, feature one course that’s trending within your company. Or highlight a story of how learning has helped an employee get promoted or close a big deal. The key here is to test and see what works best.

9.    Let departments know when you have new a course that’s right for them

Obviously, if you build a new training program internally, you are going to let the relevant team know about it. For example, if you build a new sales training program, you are going to let sales know.

However, often times the elearning companies you subscribe to will launch new libraries or new classes that are of particular use to your company. First off, follow these trends so you know what’s new. But, secondly, when you see that, let the relevant department head know – hey, there’s this new offering, your team should check it out.

A small thing, but doesn’t happen often and can help increase learner engagement.

10. Link learning to outcomes

The more you can tie learning to positive outcomes, the more people will use your learning program.

For example, if you have metrics that taking certain classes improves employee performance or increases the chance of an employee getting promoted, people are going to take notice. And usage will increase.

11. Finally, get creative!

Don’t limit yourself to the items on the list – this is your opportunity to be creative. Make a funny video or a funny poster encouraging learning. Hold a pizza party for only those people who have taken a class in the past 15 days. Put together a learn-a-thon.

These ideas sound fun, but they are done in the spirit of accomplishing something critical – ensuring your employees are learning the skills they need to overcome business challenges. So, if they succeed in getting more people to learn, that’s a really, really good thing.

These 11 tactics are all part of building a culture of learning at your company. For access on a fully baked strategy on how to make that happen, download our free ebook on how to do exactly that.