How to Get Employees Excited About L&D? Let Them Take the Reins

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One of the chief concerns learning and development leaders face in rolling out talent development programs—whether they’re weekend retreats, day-long seminars, or online courses—is finding a way to show employees their value. Often, the team members who are asked to participate in trainings view them as timewasters that take them away from more pressing commitments. And when employees resent being there, they resent the program and resist the learning.

So how can talent development leaders get their organizations excited about learning?

In a recent interview for Chief Learning Officer’s online magazine, three L&D leaders—Larry Nicholson, training manager at American Integrity Insurance; Giselle Mota, learning strategist at Preductiv; and Nick Elkins, digital design manager at PwC—discussed the trends they’re seeing in learning and development, as well as their predictions for the future of the space.

While the experts shared a lot of fascinating insights, the theme that rippled through most everything they said was that organizations need to focus less on standardized offerings and let their employees take ownership over their learning, instead.

The workplace needs to put less of an emphasis on “seat time” for training and a larger emphasis on solutions.

– Nick Elkins, PwC

In that sprit, three recommendations stood out to us, in particular:

1.   Embrace Microlearning

If employees view traditional training programs as a drain on their already-limited time, why not offer a way to learn in shorter increments that fit more easily into crowded calendars?

In their everyday lives, people go to YouTube or Google to find the answers to things at the time they need them. They look for short, quick doses to solve their problems. They don’t want to have to take a full course. I also love the AR/VR trends right now. These tools allow you to work in your normal environment or in a digital environment and get instant feedback based on choices made, which brain science tells us is the best way to learn.

– Nick Elkins, PwC 

2.   Offer On-Demand Training

Again, this is about letting employees control their own training schedules, firing up the modules that look most interesting in moments that are convenient for them. After all, when we’re learning because we want to—and not because we’ve been told to—we’re more likely to retain what we’ve heard.

Lately I am seeing a move toward on-demand learning where learners prefer to take training at their pace stemmed by video, interactivity and instant feedback.

– Larry Nicholson, American Integrity Insurance 

This instantaneous, personalized feedback that both Elkins and Nicholson alluded to is especially important. If employees can’t see how they’re doing and track their progress, what’s motivating them to keep going?

3.   Focus on The “Why”

Finally, echoing Elkins’s point that L&D should be focused less on filling seats and more on finding solutions, Giselle Mota says every industry needs to zero in on the purpose behind their L&D efforts and make sure their approach supports their “why.”

Regardless of the industry, organizations should keep it simple by refocusing on the “why” of their L&D efforts. They should have a design-thinking approach and always think ahead to avoid stagnating and falling into L&D practices that are irrelevant and ineffective.

– Giselle Mota, Preductiv

A strong L&D program is an important competitive advantage, improving organizational outcomes and demonstrating to employees and potential new hires that the company cares about their professional growth. But without employee buy-in, even the best-designed programs are likely to fall flat. By searching for ways to inspire employees to take ownership over their own development, L&D leaders are setting up their departments—and their entire organizations—for success.