In this playbook, we showcase the learner engagement strategies that worked for organizations like yours and provide the details you need to try them out yourself.
What if you could turn every employee into a learner?
A thriving learning culture—one where employees are empowered to take time to learn skills that will help them succeed in the roles of today and tomorrow—doesn’t happen overnight. It requires persistent cultivation, strategic learner engagement initiatives, and a learning platform that’s available wherever and whenever your employees need it.
With the combination of the right engagement strategies and the right online learning platform—one that increases engagement, supports the immediate application of new skills, and creates demonstrable business impact—you can turn every employee into a learner.
Make Learning a Priority from Day One
The best time to start a new habit is when there’s a clean slate. Introducing online learning through your onboarding experience helps employees make an early habit of learning on demand rather than waiting for a training. Consider a blended orientation model, such as assigning pre- or post- work through your online learning platform to complement your classroom experience. Learning content around employee function and company values, for example, is a natural fit for online training during onboarding.
New hires are 30 times more likely to consider leaving a company if they don’t believe they can achieve their goals at that organization.
-IBM, The Value of Training
How to Make it Happen
Provide a destination
New employees are learning to navigate the physical and digital spaces of the company. It’s important to provide one accessible place they can count on to get up to speed and return to over time for continued learning.
Flip the classroom
Providing online learning resources to set the tone for the in-person training can help employees feel in control of their onboarding process and know what to expect in the classroom.
Guide the online learning path
Help employees understand what they should be learning to be successful at your company by creating and assigning learning content.
Provide a custom message
Employees may not have direct access to your CEO, but you can bring the CEO to them. By creating an onboarding video featuring messages from your leadership team, employees can hear how important talent and learning are to the business.
The Power of LinkedIn Learning: With LinkedIn Learning, you can create a new hire group in the platform to guide new employees to online learning content unique to them. Use the Custom Content feature to send a video of your executive welcoming them to the company.
2. Performance Reviews
Put People at the Center of Performance Reviews
What if you could remove the stigma that performance management is a disliked, top-down process? One of the best ways to do that is to incorporate online learning. By incorporating online learning into performance reviews, it becomes an employee-driven, employee-centric experience that benefits everyone: the employee, the manager, and the organization.
How to Make it Happen
Provide an Individual Development Plan template
Provide a templated IDP for managers and employees to leverage in their performance review conversations and in ongoing 1:1 meetings.
To help increase adoption, enlist executives and functional leadership in the process. Create templated emails to make it easy for them to communicate about learning to their teams, and hold these leaders accountable by setting up regular meetings after the rollout to monitor how the program performs with their teams.
Encourage managers to curate content
Managers can use your online learning platform to curate learning content based on the individual goals of their direct reports. This enables employees to take immediate action on their development plan and show progress by engaging with learning content.
Report early success stories
Ask cross-functional partners like your HR business partners (HRBPs) to collectand report on early successes. Broadcast the successes through the channel that best fits your company culture—be it email, chat, or internal social networks.Showcase individual success stories, including quotes and what learning contentemployees are engaging with.
The Power of LinkedIn Learning: With LinkedIn Learning, you can give managers sub-admin permissions to curate online learning content and set reminders for employees. The LinkedIn Learning library offers over 13,000 courses (and growing) for managers to help employees grow.
3. New Manager Training
Get New Managers to Embrace Learning Habits
New manager training offers a great opportunity to get emerging leaders to embrace learning, a value that will trickle down to their direct reports. Consider a blended new manager training that supplements in-person training with online learning content. This will help managers gain direct experience with your online learning platform and better grasp the value of an essential tool that will help their teams grow.
According to Gallup, managers account for at least 70 percent of employee engagement scores.
How to Make it Happen
Talk to new managers getting ready for training. What are they most worried about or eager to learn? Where are the gaps in their career development? Map online learning content to their specific needs to help them prepare for the next chapter.
Track progress and keep momentum going
Keep track of new manager engagement with your online learning platform. Send emails to managers to remind them to keep up with their online course work.
Leverage managers to make learning contagious
Encourage new managers to make continuous learning a part of their management strategy. They can share learnings with their teams and assign learning content for individual employee development.
Provide a forum
Set up an online space where managers can ask questions, offer best practices, and share wins—whether that’s online or in person.
Organize manager syncs at a cadence that works best for your organization, be it monthly or quarterly. Check in with new managers on key objectives like encouraging learning on teams and engaging with learning content themselves.
4. Manager Activation
Leverage Managers to Personalize Learning
Data shows that we would be hard pressed to find a more effective learner engagement strategy than activating managers. According to the 2018 Workplace Learning Report, two thirds of learners would be motivated to spend more time learning if their direct managers were involved in their workplace learning. In the previous section, we discussed ways to incorporate learning into new manager training. Here, we show you how to activate your existing manager base.
of employees say they would spend more time learning if their manager suggested a course to improve skills.
How to Make it Happen
Get to know managers, their pain points, and what they think of L&D. This will help you create programs to address concerns and create programs that will successfully turn managers into learning evangelists.
Identify and elevate success stories
Share manager success stories, whether that’s a manager who learned and improved, or a manager who played a role in encouraging a direct report to advance their role and career through online learning.
Explain the impact
What’s in it for them? Help managers understand how learning affects their development and performance as well as that of their direct reports.
Keep the learning going
Assign learning content to managers that address gaps surfaced through ongoing relationship building and face-to-face meetings.
The Power of LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn Learning sub-admin permissions enable managers to assign learning content and pull their own learner activity reports to encourage and monitor their team’s learning.
5. Executive Sponsorship
Ignite Executives to Be Learning Leaders
One of the most important elements to building a culture of learning is the support of your leadership team. Executives give employees permission to take time to learn at work and set the tone for a learning culture. They can also play a role in mobilizing the organization from the top, ensuring managers make learning a priority for their teams.
Your job is made so much easier if your executive team buys in. We certainly have that. And we are seeing the results, as people are making learning a habit.
Talent Development Manager, Econet Wireless
How to Make it Happen
Lead with the "why"
Pique their interest by talking about what they care about most: how talent development affects the bottom line. Offer recommendations around how increasing learning engagement can affect business objectives.
Bring the data
Knowing their key metrics like talent acquisition, mobility, and retention, gather industry insights or skill trends to demonstrate the importance of learning.
Maybe your executives are not ready to roll out a full program. Compromise by starting small with a pilot or conduct an internal study to identify team-specific needs that will validate the need to mobilize.
Look for commitment
If your executives agree to invest in learning programs on their teams, be sure to gain consensus on “keys to success” and commitment in areas like manager involvement and budget that are necessary for you to execute successfully.
The Power of LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn Learning enables you to upload and publish a custom video message or learning content from your executives. These videos are only visible to your organization and can be assigned to your entire employee base or a particular group.
6. Make the Case
Show Learners the Impact of Learning
Employees, managers, and executives are motivated by business impact. After all, you’re much more likely to spend time learning or promoting learning if you’ve seen tangible returns. As you work on upskilling different teams collaborate on the metrics or correlationsyou can use to show impact.
LinkedIn’s mandate resulted in a 26% increase in quota attainment, an 8% lift in salesperson performance, lower attrition rates, and improvement in employee voice survey (EVS) scores.
How to Make it Happen
Identify a partner who gets it
Talk with executives who own each function of the business. Who wants to see positive change on their team? Which leaders believe learning programs will facilitate their goals?
Measure what matters
Get consensus on what the particular team truly cares about and what would demonstrate progress. Do an assessment before and after the program to see if it moved the needle.
Highlight early successes
Identify and showcase the individuals who are seeing early impact of learning programs. These stories can encourage other team members to prioritize learning.
Make it highly relevant
Utilize manager relationships to get hyper-relevant and personal. Focus training around individual milestones, like an upcoming sales call, or a major project deadline.
Make it convenient
Offer a combination of live trainings and accessible online coaching content to help employees learn at their own pace, on their own timeline.
The Power of LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn Learning allows you to report out on who is learning what in your organization so you can correlate time spent learning with increases in key performance metrics.
Create Friendly Competition
Online learning is easy to gamify. Employees can learn on demand—whenever, wherever—and you can easily track and share the status of the competition within your online learning platform. What starts as a game-winning strategy for employees can quickly turn into a learning habit.
[The contest] really raised the engagement and the addiction for learning.
Zainab Abdul Wadood
LMS Team Leader at QiCard
How to Make it Happen
Name the game
Create your own game or host a standard race to the top. Who can learn the most within a certain period of time?
Choose the prize
What does your employee culture value most? Consider surveying your organization to determine a prize that motivates them to join the race (e.g. gift card, team outing, sports tickets.)
Look to your cross-functional partners as champions of the game, and give them the resources they need to run it (e.g. rules, how often they should meet with their teams, email templates, etc.)
Build some buzz
A leaderboard visible to all employees can go a long way. Whether you want to get out from the bottom or get higher to the top, a leaderboard lights a fire under employees to join in the game.
Help game winners feel special. That may be a cardboard cutout like QiCard—or something else creative and fun!—or simply an email from an exec or company-wide recognition.
The Power of LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn Learning downloadable reports allow you to quickly create a sharable leaderboard for the organization. With LinkedIn Learning social features, employees can see who is watching what courses to get ahead of the competition.
Get Into the Spirit with Seasonal Learning Campaigns
Whether it’s the season for Valentines, winter holidays, Oktoberfest, FIFA World Cup, or back-to-school, bring those celebrations into the office with a learning twist.
We knew we could buy the best learning tool in the world, but if we didn’t market it to our associates, they wouldn’t use it.
Former Senior Human Resources
Business Partner at Hilltop Securities
How to Make it Happen
Did someone say brainstorm?
Seasonal marketing campaigns should be fun. Let this be a time for the team to be playful—your team and your employee audience will appreciate it!
There is a national day for whatever your organization loves: National Dog Day, Boss’s Day, National Learning & Development month. Tie in to one of these or break the mold by coming up with your own.
Enhance digital with physical
Bring in physical elements, like Hilltop Securities’ apple, to delight employees and encourage them to engage with learning resources.
Go old school with a poster
The classic paper flier still has a place. We see them on street poles advertising garage sales and concerts, and they remain effective for landing your seasonal marketing campaign and creating a festive atmosphere in the office.
With any learning campaign comes an opportunity to gamify. For instance, Hilltop Securities challenged employees to watch a playlist of related back-to-school skills (e.g. time management, personal effectiveness) and rewarded winners with prizes such as a gift card or free vacation day.
Ready to dive in? There’s no one way to inspire learner engagement. By mixing and matching any of these strategies in a way that works best for you, you’ll be on the right track.
And remember: make it easy on yourself for starters. Begin with low-hanging fruit. For instance, do you have a great relationship with your CEO? If you know employee learning is important to her, start with strategy #5, Inspiring Executives to be Learning Leaders. Are you in the midst of updating performance management? Start with strategy #2, Put People at the Center of Performance Reviews.
Once you lay the groundwork and get that quick win in your back pocket, you’re well on your way to kicking off a net-new initiative to drive learner engagement.