Inspire the Love of Learning

love of learningWelcome to February! It’s Love Month, but you may not be feeling the love much lately.

It’s cold outside (not that you’ve been going anywhere); everyone’s been working from home for months, and you’re tired of looking at the same old screen. And oh, what’s this in your inbox? Yet another compliance course. Your team has to take it, and they will, but it’s time to face the facts: your relationship with learning hasn’t exactly been exciting lately. You’re in a rut.

How can you liven things up a little?

If your relationship with learning has gotten boring, don’t blame yourself. Even the best training programs can get a little dull. What you need to do is find some ways to spice up your learning and inspire the love of learning in your employees.

Grow together with instructor led training

More workers than ever before are working from home. According to a report from Gallup, a third of employees are working remotely (down from half at the start of the pandemic last year) and a quarter of employees now sometimes work remotely. That’s a big increase from the before-times. An IDG survey found that most employees worked from home just 16% of the time before the pandemic.

While working from home is great in some ways, it’s also lonely. Workers are isolated and burned out when it comes to screens. Another self-paced course might not do it for someone who just needs some good, old-fashioned human contact.

Reach out to these isolated team members with live, instructor-led courses – something you can do through a learning management system or even via Zoom. Instructor-led courses allow your employees to be seen and to interact — not just with the trainer, but with one another.

Flirt with wellness training

Ok, yes. You have to train your people on work-related content like new products, compliance, and the people skills to do their jobs well and be productive. We get it. It’s the meat and potatoes of any training program. But what if you got a little experimental? What if you offered training that might help your employees feel better?

A study last year found that job burnout levels were on the rise, with 72% of surveyed workers experiencing burnout symptoms in fall of 2020, compared to pre-pandemic burnout levels (42%). No one was unaffected — managers report working more hours, 38% of employees said burnout was the most stressful part of their jobs, and most troublingly, many employees didn’t feel comfortable taking a “wellness day.”

There’s a lot going on there: if an employee is sick, but working from home, why not just work sick? Also, remote workers might be trying to care for family members or supervise remote school while working. Or taking care of family might mean later hours. On top of all that, the traditional corporate wellness programs don’t fit a COVID-era remote workforce; in-office seminars and company gyms don’t make sense right now.

Think about how your training can support wellness. Does your team need a reminder of the benefits they have (and why they should totally take a sick day when they’re sick)? Do they need mental health courses to help them with work-life balance? Might they respond well to fun offerings like yoga or cooking classes they can do with their kids?

By using your training program to help deliver this sort of training, you’ll show them how much you care.

Have a little fun with gamification

Every relationship needs some fun in it — even your relationship with learning, so spice up your training program by gamifying it!

Gamification is the process of adding game elements (like points) to an activity that is not a game (like learning.) It’s all about motivation and healthy competition. The game elements help to increase engagement among learners who might not be into learning for its own sake. Some of the most common elements added to training are:

  • Points: Your employees might earn points for various activities, like logging onto the LMS for a certain number of days in a row, answering correctly on a quiz, or finishing a learning module.
  • Badges: Badges are used to show mastery. If someone has taken all the training associated with a new product line, or finished their learning pathway, they might earn a badge which will be displayed on their profile in the LMS, and maybe even in the office or the company’s messaging app.
  • Leaderboards: A leaderboard lists the top point-getters on your team, showing who’s got the most points, and maybe even displaying each person’s badges. Publicly visible leaderboards are great for sparking competition among top performers, but be careful — lower performers may be disengaged by leaderboards, which is something you want to keep an eye on, monitor, and ultimately avoid.

Focus on their needs

Remember: your training has to meet the needs of your learners. Yes, it’s there to ensure that they know how to do their jobs, but you should also be thinking beyond what you (or your organization) wants out of your training program.

In the last year, the landscape of work has changed dramatically, and so have your learners’ needs. What they wanted last year might not be what they want now. Ask them. You can use automated methods like surveys, but be sure to include personal conversations as well, such as team meetings and managerial one-on-ones. After all, communication is the foundation of any strong relationship.