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6 Tips To Use The Element Of Surprise In Online Training To Improve Employee Engagement

  1. Pen Christopher Pappas
  2. Calendar February 3, 2022

How To Use The Element Of Surprise For Employee Engagement

Movies have been popular for decades, but the more senses that were involved, the wider viewership became. It started with silent black-and-white movies, then moved into sound and colored images. Now we’re in the age of immersive screen consumption, with haptic seating, surround sound, and 3D glasses. This same principle applies to online training. The more senses you engage, the more involved trainees will be. But how can you surprise your trainees into paying attention and remembering most of what they learn? Is there a way to appeal to their curious nature and create a sense of intrigue to get them actively involved? Here are some tips to improve employee engagement by catching them off guard (in a way good way).

1. Jazz Up The eLearning Goals

Many course developers focus so much on razzle-dazzle that they forget to teach. Yes, it’s nice to turn part of the course into a videogame. It keeps trainees entertained and motivated. But what do they get out of it? As you storyboard the initial portions of your course, begin with training targets. Each “shiny” part of the course must have a clear function in mind. State the learning goal at the beginning of the unit. This primes trainees for learning. But don’t opt for the standard approach…that’s what they expect. Instead, transform your course into an interactive map with milestones markers. Or use badges to highlight the goals and recognize their accomplishments along the way.

2. Incorporate Touches Of Humor

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and that humor is relative. But there are still comedies that cut across demographics and people that everyone considers attractive. So, there must be some kind of generally accepted standard. The trick in online training is to make the humor unexpected. For example, the character that guides you through the course? Model it after the boss and put a few jokes in his/her repertoire. Humanize corporate authority to set learners at ease. Or sneak a few puns into the compliance course. Things that will make them giggle. This can later trigger recall when they’re trying to remember how that regulation was worded. Just make sure that you make them laugh instead of making them feel offended or singled out.

3. Create Mini-Mysteries For Employee Engagement

We all love a little suspense and intrigue in our lives. The best detective shows are the ones that guide us with breadcrumbs rather than spoon-feeding us everything. They draw you in and invite you to solve the mystery along with the lead detective. Use this formula in case studies or problem-solving exercises. Turn it into a series of mysteries that calls to their inner Sherlock, Frank/Joe Hardy, or Nancy Drew. They have to keep up with the narrative and figure things out for themselves. There’s no room to be passive or complacent. Take it a step further by developing a serious game that puts them right into the middle of a real-world mystery. For example, they must use their problem-solving and active listening skills to figure out what the client needs and how to address their needs.

4. Gamify The Process

What exactly is gamification? It’s when you stoke competitive spirit by including game elements like trophies, timers, hidden treasures, Easter eggs, quests, and so on. Build assessment modules in a game-show format, with buzzers, colorful effects, ambient sound, and quick-draw elements. Put optional leader boards for trainees who want to measure themselves against others. Input a series of features and wardrobe choices so trainees can design their own avatar and use it to navigate simulations.

5. Co-Opt Social Features

Self-directed learning can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Integrate social media platforms. Trainees spend most of their social time there already, so sneak it into the course. You can send them notifications, remind them to study, or post daily trivia loosely connected to the course. That keeps it in their mind’s eye. Create closed training groups on Facebookor WhatsApp. Curate lists on Twitter that have experts or resources relevant to the course. This way, they have ‘training feeds’ they can review in their downtime. Use WhatsApp to trigger course-related discussions, and if a member has been lurking too long, ping them with a direct question. But keep it light and inviting so that they don’t feel targeted.

6. Make The Most Of Mobile Learning

The nature of smartphones is interactive. Even the simple act of scrolling or pinching your screen could disrupt your lull. Plus, we reach for them so automatically in idle moments that it’s a wasted opportunity not to use them for training. Ensure that your course is compatible with multiple phone models and operating systems. It should work on tablets, too, so that everyone can partake in the online training experience. You can even improve employee engagement by enacting geolocation features and creating a scavenger hunt. Sales staff must follow the clues and look for specific items in the store. Thereby increasing product knowledge and helping them familiarize themselves with the layout.

Nobody likes ambushes – they’re disorienting and unsettling. But we do enjoy the unexpected gift or unplanned treat, so it probably depends on the type of surprise it is. In online training, that slight jolt can restore waning focus and keep learners actively engaged. Start with well-charted learning goals so that they know their training target. Make them laugh and use suspense to evoke curiosity. Gaming tactics pique interest, and social features invite collaboration. Form virtual discussion groups and facilitate mobile learning for deeper immersion into your training content.

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