Gallup defines engaged employees as those who are involved in, enthusiastic about, and committed to their work and workplace. In their most recent poll, Gallup determined that less than one-third (31.5%) of U.S. workers met this definition. The good news is that this was actually an improvement from 2013. The bad news is that a majority of employees, 51%, were still "not engaged" at work in 2014. That left 17.5% as "actively disengaged."
It’s not that companies aren’t trying to create an engaging environment for employees. Most do try. They just don’t succeed. The same can often be said for online training. It’s no secret that engaging e-learning gets results. Instructional designers spend a lot of time and energy determining ways to capture and hold a learner’s attention.
Actionable learning objectives are developed. Courses are designed using relatable, real-world scenarios and environments. Gamification elements might be implemented to increase motivation using leader boards and badges. Maybe a couple mini-games are added to break up course content. With any luck, learners are captivated and their behaviors are changed. Then they return to their jobs with the skills to perform better, which probably increases their engagement…at least for a little while.
But what if your training could go beyond just improving job skills and actually improve employee motivation? E-learning has the ability to not only educate people on how to do their jobs, but enlighten them on all the benefits of doing their jobs well.
TRAINING AS MOTIVATION
Let’s look at a job that many people probably view as unexceptional at best: retail sales. Most retail sales training focuses on how to greet customers, how to build trust, how to overcome objections, and how to close the sale. All are very important skills for this line of work. Learners leave the training experience knowing how to be a better brand ambassador, maybe sell a few more sweaters, and earn a higher commission (hopefully). Not incredibly motivating.
However, it wouldn’t be difficult to use the course introduction, activity feedback, or maybe some brief expert videos to demonstrate how the interpersonal skills being taught and developed will not only help learners sell more sweaters but benefit them later in life during a college debate, job interview, or even just general social situations.
GAMIFICATION CAN HELP, TOO
Gamification elements, like points and badges, can be implemented to further drive motivation and indicate how successfully learners are developing these important life skills. However, it’s essential that the points and badges being earned are meaningful in their own right.
If the e-learning includes an immersive sales simulation, rules can be designed to withhold some of the simulation’s more challenging customer scenarios from the learner until he or she has demonstrated a certain level of proficiency. We can drive them to want to reach this proficiency level by rewarding them with a distinct, not-so-easily-attainable badge for closing a sale with one of these more challenging customers.
TAKE GAMIFICATION OFF-LINE
Maybe the store manager is able to view who has achieved a certain badge via a learning portal and identify which employees might be ready for a mentorship role within the store (The same idea can be achieved with customer satisfaction surveys, but that information can be harder to collect). Including such a mechanic within the training, and using it as a factor in determining in-store job responsibilities, can add a feeling of real accomplishment for learners.
Going back to that Gallup survey for a moment, some of the data collected revealed that Millennials are less likely than other generations to say they "have the opportunity to do what they do best" at work. A well-designed training course could provide them with the opportunity to demonstrate “what they do best” and include badges or other rewards that, if achieved, earn them the right to pitch an idea to their manager.
Or, like with the retail scenario, maybe the manager can use a portal or LMS to see how well employees performed in a certain area within the training and assign them to a project they are better suited for. Make the learner aware of these opportunities and you’ve increased their motivation to not only pass the training, but continue to engage with course scenarios until they excel at them, discover the optimal approach, and attain the reward.
These are just a couple examples of how a well-designed e-learning course can be used to increase employee motivation. If your employees don’t fall within that 31.5% mentioned above, you might want to consider boosting engagement through a different training approach.