How can you help your employees love learning?

December 20, 2016 Geoffroy De Lestrange

CEOs and HR leaders now consider employee engagement as an urgent or important problem in the workplace, according to Bersin, Deloitte. The best way to resolve this? Through great learning opportunities and training. Yet, the Conference Board’s 2016 report revealed that most CEOs and CHROs believe their companies are not developing employee skills fast enough. As our IDC research revealed, managers expect to see fast time to competency for training employees but, as some of you may have experienced first-hand, training and learning can sometimes slip to the bottom of to-do lists.

So, why are companies still falling short when it comes to employee training?

There are two main learning strategies – push and pull – and there seems to be a preconception that these methods can only be used in isolation. An increasing number of companies are trying to move towards pull learning, encouraging employees to lead their own learning, rather than being taught through structured training (push learning).

However, companies need to be aware that they cannot completely abandon “traditional” push learning. There are still instances when employers need to provide employees with more direction and guidelines, for instance when on-boarding new employees or fulfilling regulatory training requirements. Instead, to create a truly holistic learning environment and engage employees, both learning strategies need to work together in tandem.

So, how can you best maximise both and help ensure your employees love their learning?

Make it relevant:

The moment we can’t relate to something, we switch off. Organisations need to create and offer their own learning content, making it unique to their company and tailored to their employees’ specific roles.  Utilising real scenarios further helps to engage employees and bring the training to life. You can also use insider experts to boost credibility and help communicate why the training should be important to other employees. This is particularly important when it comes to mandatory and what can be viewed as more “boring “training.

Keep it simple, not dull

An easily accessible and intuitive interface for your learning system is essential for engaging employees, but the learning content itself doesn’t have to be boring. Offer learning in bursts of bite-sized programmes to retain employees’ attention and focus, using gamification to make it more interactive. You can create intrigue by incorporating a challenge within the training.  Many cannot resist the pull of a competition.

Empower employees:

Employees do not want to constantly be told what to do, they want to be inspired. The huge success of Ted Talks is clear evidence of this. Being able to pick the video for yourself and watch a wide range of industry experts turned Ted Talks from an almost failing business into a global phenomenon. Similarly, through using an open LMS, employees can choose the learning topics and training they want to do. They can take control of their own development and career.  

In the same way, employers need to provide “always-on” learning, making learning mobile and constantly available. Employees can do it at their convenience, when it suits them, not be limited to certain devices and specific times. You also need to remember that employees like to learn in different ways through different means – e-learning is not for everyone. You need to offer multiple options and possibilities. Consider what suits who? Who needs what? Let employees choose their own learning journey and how they will make their way along it.

Think like Google:

Nowadays Google is our go-to for almost any question or problem. Why can’t a training portal be the same for the workplace? To create an environment of continuous learning, you need to facilitate and encourage employees to look for answers and solutions for themselves. Just like Google, employees should be able to search a key word in their learning portal and find the training they need. 


Communication is key for raising awareness of new training and helping change employees’ mindsets regarding learning. It is important to bear in mind that no one single communication strategy will work, there is no secret magic formula – different employees respond to different approaches. Certainly, as you may have already experienced first-hand, just relying on some e-mails and word of mouth will not quite cut it.

One solution is to create a training officer role for each department. They will be responsible for passing on messages around training and can better ensure that these are communicated accurately through various, different medium.

For those with a budget and the time, why not create augmented reality posters, TV style adverts or even commission an animation to engage learners and drive interest? As with any commercial project, these can be released in snippets on the lead up to a final professional launch.

Most important, though, is to interact with your employees and find out what they need. More than just self-service, developing a learning culture is about creating a true learning experience for your employees.

About the Author

Geoffroy De Lestrange

Product Marketing & Communication Director EMEA at Cornerstone OnDemand

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