It is no secret that today’s workforce is distracted. According to a 2013 Towards Maturity report, 88% of employees don’t have time, or make time, to engage with learning and development (L&D) offerings. When you add in the fact that the average attention span for adults engaging with learning is only 8.25 seconds* (…….sorry, what was I saying?) you can see why competing for your employee’s attention can be challenging when it comes to learning.
On a recent Training Magazine webinar, Odette Santiago-Elmer, Meridian University training manager, shared her insight into how the basics of creating an engaging training program really come down to a well thought out strategy that is balanced between focusing on the needs of the company, as well as the needs and overall experiences of the learner. It’s hard to make time for webinars in our busy day, so here are some of the top takeaways from the session that you can apply to your L&D programs right now.
What makes creating engaging learning so challenging?
It isn’t just a distracted workforce that makes creating engaging training programs difficult, there are several challenges at an organizational level that often also need to be overcome.
Doing more with less, has become a common theme for the expectations of L&D departments and limited funds put a strain on the amount of resources available to your team. A reduction of head count in the overall workforce means that the employees that organizations hire and retain need to be highly skilled, or need the necessary training to improve their current skillset so they can operate at a higher level. On top of this, a climate of constantly changing business initiatives can make it difficult to decide what is relevant when developing training.
Creating engaging and targeted training
Engaging training programs start with “focused” instructional design and a strategic plan.
- Plan, plan, plan – Any training program starts with an idea or problem that needs to be solved. For internal training courses, think about what skills the people in a specific position must have. Who is responsible for identifying what that require training must be? Your HR department, direct supervisors for that role? When it comes to external training, think about the group of partners/vendors that you are targeting. What is in it for them? How will they benefit from completing the course or program (especially if they are paying you for that training)?
- Know your audience – This seems like a no-brainer, but can often be an area where content doesn’t stack up. What line of the business are you targeting with this course? What is their work environment? Are they at a desk all day with access to a computer, or will the training need to be available on a mobile device? Odette’s #1 tip – Always target the lowest common denominator, not the expert that may be taking the course. It is better to cover information that may already be known than to assume that all learners have this prior knowledge.
Branding and Communicating Your Offerings
There are several key elements when it comes to successfully increasing exposure for your training program (for more check out the Why Learning and Marketing Should be BFFs).
- Develop a brand for your learning offerings – It’s time to think like a marketer (or to reach out to your marketing team for their insight)! After putting a lot of hard work into creating your training, you want to make sure that it doesn’t go unnoticed. Think about a formal name and a logo that compliment your organization’s brand.
- Establish a clear communication plan – Set up a cadence of communication that consistently reminds learners about the L&D offerings that are available to them and any new courses or options.
- Share your success – Communication doesn’t have to only be to your learners, share the success of your program with the company and executive team. Show how each of your training assets is aligned with corporate objectives, and how your learning program addresses real challenges within the business.
For more about improving learning effectiveness, check out our blog post, “Powerful Practices: Improving Learning Effectiveness” or our blog topics surrounding tips and trends around learning.