How a Simple Challenge Increased Our Online Learning Hours 3x

August 11, 2017

This challenge among our learning and development team here at LinkedIn increase our online learning usage three-fold.

Creating a culture of learning is a prime goal for Learning and Development at LinkedIn, as I’m sure it is for other L&D teams. We put a lot of effort into helping our employees grow to become the best versions of themselves.

And in order to accomplish that, our L&D team needs to lead by example.

That’s why we are always thinking of innovative techniques that’ll inspire our own team to spend more time learning. Not only to upskill the team and expose them to new courses and content, but also to discover new and effective techniques that we can recommend and share with other teams.

Our most recent effort proved to be one of our most effective: a challenge. Throughout our second quarter, we held a learning challenge among our L&D employees to see who could watch the most minutes of LinkedIn Learning courses over that time.

The results were impressive. Over those three months, we saw our time spent learning increase three-fold.

“I was certainly inspired by the challenge,” said Senior Learning and Development Partner Christina Haschka, who won the competition. “But, more than anything, the challenge was the catalyst that got me to dig in and see what LinkedIn Learning has to offer.”

How the learning challenge worked

The goal of the challenge was to get each member of our L&D department to watch at least two hours of LinkedIn Learning content a month. It served as a way to gamify learning and get more people into the product.

The 3-month challenge began at the start of April. To kick it off, we announced the challenge at an L&D all-hands meeting and promoted it via an internal webpage highlighting the “leaderboard” – aka the people who were watching the most minutes of LinkedIn Learning content.

One smart decision we made at the start was not to publish the entire leaderboard, but only the top 10. We had no intention of shining a harsh light on those at or near the bottom of the rankings. Better to shine a light on the leaders for others to emulate. And to keep the focus on the highest performers, we promised a small prize to the winner.

To keep the momentum going throughout the quarter, we sent out bi-weekly emails highlighting the leaderboard and the most popular courses among our team. To show full transparency, we also published on our internal site a list of every course that every team member had watched. And, in each L&D all-hands meeting during the quarter, we had one of the challenge leaders speak about how they fit learning into their day.

The results

We were pleasantly surprised by the results. Overall, we saw a three-fold increase in learning across our team, with our L&D employees on average watching two hours of LinkedIn Learning content in the first month alone.

We awarded the symbolic prize of a small 3-inch-tall gold-plated cup for the person who won the challenge, which Haschka took home, plus certificates to others in the top 10. But we made sure that all who took part understood that the “real’ prize was the learning they had experienced and knowledge they gained.

“What I liked about the challenge is that it expanded my definition of learning,” Senior L&D Product Manager Scott Morgan, who finished second in the competition, said. “Specifically, I found myself watching and being inspired by some of the creative, biopic and documentary content. That inspiration got me thinking critically about my life and career.”

But, the results were more than just increased learning on our L&D team. Using our own experience, we created a Challenge “toolbox” with ready-to-use tips and resources that other teams at LinkedIn can use – and hopefully see the same great results we saw.

The takeaway

It’s hard to convince employees to take time out of their day to learn, despite all the benefits learning offers. That makes it incumbent on us as L&D professionals to find creative ways that’ll inspire more employees to learn.

Of course, we want to ensure those creative ways to inspire learning actually work, so we’d rather try them first. And what better team to pilot them on than L&D?

By piloting it with ourselves first, we ensured the challenge worked while ironing out all the kinks. Now, we can encourage other departments at LinkedIn to adopt this challenge, and help them with practical advice from our own experience.

And that should result in a stronger culture of learning.