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Top 4 Ways to Increase Learner Engagement in Your Corporate Training Course

If you own a business and have at least one employee, you have likely trained an employee before. Whether the training was a quick, on-the-job refresher on how to use the new copying machine or a multi-day training program featuring slides, videos, and icebreakers, you likely had a goal in mind when conducting the training: to change employees’ behavior.

Most corporate training programs begin with lofty goals and well-meaning trainers, SMEs, or facilitators. However, time, money, and effort is wasted unless the training class or program keeps the learners’ attention and motivates them to change their behavior.

That’s where learner engagement comes into planning and developing your training program. Learner engagement is an often overlooked piece of the training puzzle. Engagement is often overlooked in favor of “packing in” as much useless information (sorry!) as possible into a training piece, regardless of whether the training is delivered virtually, in-person, or some blend of the two modalities.

To help you make your employees change their behavior (also known as taking what they have learned and using it on the job), your training must be *engaging.* Here are four ways you can improve your training offerings and improve the likelihood of your employees changing their behavior.

Tell Employees Why They Should Care About the Training

It is a common misconception that your employees will care about the training programs they attend just because attendance is requested or required. Chances are, your employees attend training sessions simply because they are requested or required to do so, not because they have personal or professional interest. It’s not that you have “bad” or unmotivated employees--it’s just that you have human employees...humans that are adults. And adult humans tend to have one thing in common: they’re very interested in themselves.

It’s important to remember that adult learners (aka your employees) are old enough to have their own interests and motivations. That means that in order to get them to care about your training program or changing their behaviors, they must clearly understand why they should care. For lasting behavioral change to occur, adult learners have to understand how the training will directly and positively affect them and their jobs.

Relate the Training Specifically to Their Jobs

Let’s delve a bit deeper into what motivates employees to change their behavior after completing a training session. Related to the first tip above, it is also important to make sure that any training that you offer your employees is directly relevant to their current job roles. In large organizations, it is common for every new hire to complete New Hire Training of some sort, which is usually a series of boring (albeit necessary) online training modules related to safety, organizational culture, and other broad-range topics. It is understandable that many of the same topics would be relevant to every employee that begins working at an organization. However, approaching *all* training development with a “one size fits all” type of mentality is guaranteed to make your employees want to click or sleep through the training session.

When you develop and offer employee training, focus on creating sessions that are targeted for a specific job or position. Combine this targeted approach with a clear message about why employees should care about the training and you will see an increase in interest and motivation.

Include an Individualized Element to the Training Course or Program

Let’s “circle back” (I know, so cringe!) to the topic of how adult learners need to understand how a training program benefits them. Another way to tap into adult learner psychology characteristics is to include an individualized element to your training course or program.

All learners respond very well to materials that address their affinities, or topics that directly interest them. For adult learners or employees, it may not be feasible to change training based on each employee’s specific affinities. (I am sure your training budget does not allow for content that is unrelated to your business needs.) However, it is possible to add individualized elements to your training course or program.

My personal favorite individualized training element is an action plan. An action plan is simply a set of targeted questions that ask learners to plan out, specifically, how they will use what they have learned in the training course or program. Action plans can be very detailed or as simple as a few questions.

Asking learners to create their own action plans helps them to reinforce what they have learned, make new personal connections to what they have learned, and increases the likelihood that they will revisit what they have learned after they have left the training session or completed the course.

Ask Employees to Rave about the Training

Lastly, we know that corporate training typically gets a pretty bad reputation for being boring and useless. But, after you have revamped your training program or course to make it engaging and targeted, it is time to start to build some new goodwill towards your company’s training offerings.

To build new goodwill towards your training and development offerings, ask employees to share “reviews” of the course they completed. Consider the many times that you have used positive reviews to influence your opinion of a product, service, or experience. Positive employee to employee reviews or testimonials will help future learners start off with a positive mindset about the training offering. Also, asking and allowing employees to share anonymous reviews of a training session allows you to collect more feedback and continue to improve the training.

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