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Ask an Instructional Designer: Expert Recommendations for Employee Training and Staffing

Recently, the AllenComm team had the opportunity to attend the Association for Talent Development (ATD) conference. We were excited to share information about our new service offerings, as well as to learn more about the current needs of our professional community and clients. The yearly gathering brings together our professional community of L&D practitioners, certified TD professionals, team leaders, instructional designers, chief talent officers, consultants, and all professionals in roles across the spectrum that work together to deliver the learning experiences that level up careers and organizations.

This is part two in a series of articles from our team about their experiences at ATD. In the following article, AllenComm Instructional Designer Daumian Austefjord shares insights from her recent experiences working with clients and networking at ATD.

How to Make the Employee Development Programs Engaging and Motivating

One consistent challenge I heard lamented by both presenters and attendees at ATD 2023 was how to get employees to take the training offered to them. Unless it is mandatory, many people do not want to put in the time and effort to complete most of the training that is provided by their employers.  They don’t see the value or recognize any advantage it will give them, either professionally or personally.

Fortunately, there were also many solutions to this challenge that were discussed at the conference. Some of them were directly related to how courses are designed and developed, but many of them were more complex and associated with course implementation and overall learning and development practices in any given company. All of them require the customized approach that AllenComm offers.

Understand & Involve the Learners: Begin by gaining insights into the target audience’s preferences, needs, and learning styles. Conduct surveys or interviews to gather information about their interests, career goals, skills gaps and challenges. This knowledge will help tailor the training content and approach to their specific needs and make them feel personally invested in the learning process.

Develop Engaging, Relevant Content: This one should go without saying, but since most training misses the mark, it must be said: Design interactive and engaging training materials that captivate learners’ attention. Utilize multimedia elements such as videos, simulations, quizzes, and gamified activities to make the learning experience enjoyable and truly interactive. Incorporate real-life, customized scenarios and personas that learners can relate to and immediately apply in their own contexts.

Offer Flexibility and Personalization: Not only should courses be engaging, but they also should provide flexible learning options that accommodate learners’ busy schedules and individual preferences. Offer self-paced modules, blended learning approaches, or microlearning resources that can be accessed anytime and anywhere. Allow learners to choose topics or modules that align with their specific interests and needs, enabling a more personalized, custom learning experience.

Communicate and Promote the Benefits: Just like anything else that requires persuasion, the benefits of the training to the learner must both clearly communicated and “sold”. Emphasize how it will help them acquire specific new skills, enhance their job performance, advance their careers, or address unique challenges they face. Utilize internal communication channels within the organization, such as email newsletters, intranet portals, or staff meetings, to continuously promote the training opportunities.

Foster a Learning Culture that Engages Managers and Team Leaders: Build a positive learning environment within the organization and get the support of leaders. Ensure managers understand the benefits and actively promote the training programs to their teams. Having a leadership team that encourages and endorses a culture that values continuous learning and professional development can carry weight and significantly influence employees’ decisions to participate in training.

Incentivize, Recognize and Reward Achievements: Consider providing incentives or rewards for employees who actively participate in training programs. This could include certificates, monetary bonuses, extra time off, or opportunities for professional growth, such as attending conferences or workshops. Implement a system to acknowledge and reward learners’ achievements throughout the training process. This can include customized digital badges or points that learners can earn upon completing modules or reaching milestones.

Foster a Learning Community: Create a sense of community and collaboration among learners. Encourage them to share their experiences, challenges, and ideas related to the training topic. Utilize discussion boards, forums, or social learning platforms where learners can interact with peers, ask questions, and provide support to each other. This social aspect can enhance motivation and engagement.

Ultimately, creating a positive and engaging learning environment is no small task. No single strategy will be effective, nor will an un-coordinated, out-of-the-box option do the trick. Only the kind of customized, comprehensive solutions that AllenComm provides will ensure employees actively participate in their own professional development and enjoy doing it.

Author Bio:

Daumian Austefjord is an Instructional Designer at AllenComm with over 10 years experience designing, developing and delivering engaging learning experiences for a wide array of audiences.