3 Recommendations LinkedIn's L&D Team Discovered from the "LinkedIn Learning Challenge"

December 11, 2019

At LinkedIn, our Learning & Development team likes to dream big and try out new ideas to drive learner engagement. Last year, we hosted our first LinkedIn Learning Challenge, a friendly company-wide competition where each Executive’s org competes to see which has the most engaged learners. We saw remarkable results compared to an average week including:

  • 3x learners

  • 5x hours viewed

  • 8x course completions

This year, we knew we had to raise the bar. One of LinkedIn’s values is “Taking Intelligent Risks,” so for this year’s Learning Challenge, we took a big intelligent risk by doubling the time of LinkedIn Learning content a learner needed to watch that week to be considered engaged. We asked ourselves, “can we do that AND still grow the overall numbers of engaged learners?” (Short answer: Yes, we could.)

Here are three things we learned during this year’s LinkedIn Learning Challenge that improved upon the performance and experience from 2018:

1. Build your marketing campaign around a tangible, visible prize (and remember to keep it fun!)

A few weeks before the Challenge, we kicked off our early stage marketing campaign to create excitement and generate buzz. One of our key learnings was the importance of having a visible prize that was truly a showstopper – a giant, gleaming silver trophy that we could center our marketing campaign around. 

The Challenge Cup drove excitement to a whole new level even before the learning week itself. The Cup synonymized learning with fun. Our campaign included digital signs, creative marketing videos with Executives, and even a video that went viral internally, in which we carried the Cup around our California HQ campus and captured reactions from curious employees live! It certainly caught our Executive team’s eyes and made the competition more exciting for employees across our global offices.

2. Leverage your learning champions to communicate real-time

Leveraging your learning champions is key to the successful promotion of a learning challenge. This year, we partnered closely with our internal Corporate Communications team, our Executive team’s Chiefs of Staff and employees who volunteered to be their department’s learning champions. Each of these teams were critical to our mission in promoting the Challenge and encouraging participation. With sponsorship from our Executive team, we reached out to these teams to share what their roles and responsibilities would be during the week of the Challenge in order to get their buy-in and support.  

Collectively, these groups formed our comprehensive team of learning champions, communicating to our employees from a top-down, org-wide, or bottoms-up approach. They would share frequent leaderboard updates with our internal communications partners. They would also help cascade this info across their respective org – whether it be e-mails from the Executive or in instant messaging channels.

3. Use data to create a network effect of engagement

With LinkedIn’s data-driven culture, it came as no surprise that sharing the leaderboard data was key to driving learner engagement. While LinkedIn Learning Week is a friendly competition, everyone from our Executives to our front-line managers wanted to know how their team was performing and whether they were inching closer to the top spot. By highlighting regional engagement and top engaged teams within each department, we also encouraged participation across the company in different ways. 

What was surprising was the widespread network effect of sharing the data – the more we provided updates, the more people wanted to dig deeper into the details. As the week progressed, more individuals reached out, curious to know how their team was performing. This led to teams at all levels having higher overall engagement. 

The Results:

So how did we fare? At the end of the Challenge, even with doubling the amount of time required from 15 minutes to 30 minutes, we saw our percentage of engaged learners increase from 19% to 20% company-wide. Compared to last year’s Challenge, we also saw:

  • 53% more hours viewed

  • 50% more courses viewed

  • 15% more courses completed

On the Friday of the Challenge, engagement in one day beat most prior weekly records across multiple metrics – overall learners, hours viewed and course completions.  

Our Global Talent Organization took home the victory this year with an incredible 76% engagement across the department! We also saw most of our departments’ engagement increase, with our top 3 departments all above 50% engagement – a new record.

Overall, this year's Challenge drove increased learner engagement through creative marketing campaigns, a multi-layered communication approach, and frequent data updates to show engagement across sub-teams. If you're curious about how you can drive learner engagement at your organization, you can read about these tactics and more in our Learner Engagement Playbook here.