20 Ways Training Super-Charges Employee Engagement
Updated: May 21
In recent years, studies have shown that the more companies appreciate their employees, the more engaged and interested these individuals will be. Training is the perfect way to demonstrate the value you place in them!
This is because those who put in the effort to develop top-notch training can:
1. Ensure employee efforts are targeted to company goals — not a waste of time.
Good training starts with a clear road map for what you want learners to achieve when the training is done. For small projects, creating a simple high-level outline (or design document) will do. For more complex projects, you might want to start with a curriculum map that ties learning modules to specific job role or performance-based tasks that align with company goals.
2. Clarify the expectations you have with your employees.
Training is a great way to define standards for both individual and team performance. It can positively affect behavior and clearly communicate the "What's In It For Me" (WIIFM) of what learners should do to be successful. Engaged employees expect clarity from you in terms of tools, training, coaching and support, and you can provide consistent leadership through training.
3. Connect your employees to the bigger picture.
Your company has undoubtedly identified its goals and vision for the upcoming year. Why not use training to show employees exactly how their jobs advance the corporate mission? They will take pride in knowing they are an important part of company endeavors.
4. Give autonomy in how people get their jobs done.
Adult learners have unique traits and learning needs that should influence how they are asked to perform their job or participate in training. In a nutshell, adults require a healthy sense of autonomy and want a say in how they fulfill their roles. The more control and influence employees have in accomplishing their specific job responsibilities or training, the more interested they are in the task, and the more trust and confidence they feel upper management has in them.
5. Value people's ideas and thoughts.
Consider designing training in a way that shows you value the ideas and opinions of team members. This can be done by creating employee surveys that contribute to the training content, peer learning activities during training, and classroom interactions that result in creating materials for all the company to use in support of organizational values.
6. Make everyone into an expert.
Training can easily help every single employee become an expert at something job-related. Upon completion, you can arrange for learners to become mentors and coaches. Or perhaps they gain certification on equipment, software, business processes, etc. Then create a custom Directory of Experts that lists people and their special skills that can be distributed throughout your organization.
7. Build trust.
Design training courses that allow people to feel safe to explore options and make mistakes. Learning environments like this help employees build confidence, make decisions more easily, and reduce their level of stress when back on the job. An overly controlled and unsafe learning environment is one of the fastest ways to create disengagement. Trust your employees to accomplish the work you give them and you'll find highly motivated and engaged teams.
8. Catch individuals doing it right.
Training can create a great opportunity to acknowledge people doing something exceptionally well. This can be done while they are taking the training or after a course or program is complete. Pay attention to team members who have improved job performance or are making extra efforts beyond what is normally required. Then reinforce these behaviors by showing appreciation or providing recognition.
9. Make employees a part of the overall effort.
Courses should take into consideration real-life scenarios, interactions and activities that demonstrate your employees are an important part of the company and that each one of them matters. Pre- and post- training surveys, group assignments and mentor/student action plans are a few concepts you can try.
10. Make emotional intelligence a part of the culture.
By supporting your employees with a diverse collection of training materials, you can show that you value not only hard technical skills but also those "soft skills" (i.e. how people interact with each other). Well-rounded employees are more engaged and a variety of skills should be encouraged at all levels of the organization.
11. Create a common language.
It goes without saying that training is a wonderful tool to help bridge communication gaps across the company, and provide consistency within it. Here, you are able to clearly define key terms and use language that effectively and efficiently communicates new job role concepts and plans. Remember to include any change management efforts and best practices for clearer communication and quicker adoption of goals.
12. Design a roadmap to achieve professional goals.
When you segment training into smaller bite-sized portions, you can create a learning path your employees can easily follow to achieve their professional goals. This also helps them stay on track to receive that next promotion or simply to acquire new skills they want to achieve.
13. Provide access to information.
When you provide the right training and continue to build on it over time, you're ensuring your staff has access to all the information needed to be involved and committed in their daily work. Organize this info into an interactive knowledge center that allows employees to contribute, and you can give co-workers and teams the opportunity to help solve each other's problems.
14. Build a learning culture.
Look for new opportunities for team members to learn, grow, and expand their skills and experience. Peer-learning and "pull learning" demonstrate that you and the organization expect employees to learn, collaborate and develop. When employees are guided to drive the training content and delivery methods, they become truly interested and invested in their tasks and end up doing much more than expected.
15. Start a learning center.
Foster engagement by developing a training program that is designed with input from your employees. Ask them to select or curate resources, websites, videos, or materials that are related to their work. Pick a day where the team gathers to discuss the item and what they've learned.
16. Groom people to be leaders.
Ensure your training programs not only teach the technical aspects of a job, but that they also empower people to hone their unique skillsets. Leadership training should encourage individuals to focus on personal accountability, take a good look at their role within the organization and set clear, measurable goals that help them develop into future leaders.
17. Provide ongoing coaching and support.
Training, mentoring and other mechanisms for support shouldn't end after the initial onboarding process. When training is viewed as a process, rather than a one-time event, the effectiveness and value of learning is multiplied many times over. Frequent coaching calls to discuss strategies or work through issues can help team members improve in their role and make work-life meaningful and rewarding.
18. Generate new ideas.
When done creatively, training can create a fresh environment that encourages innovation and sparks new ideas. For example, job rotations or job swaps (in which individuals trade roles for a day) allow team members to gain insight into their own role by experiencing the daily tasks and challenges of someone else.
19. Ask for and act on feedback.
Employees have some of the best ideas on how to improve processes and maximize effectiveness and smart training programs take these ideas into consideration. This can be done before, during or as a follow-up to the training. Guarantee anonymity through online surveys or suggestion boxes to encourage honest feedback. Then follow through with a thank you and explanation of what you're doing differently (and why) as a result.
20. Help celebrate personal wins.
Be sure to incorporate moments in your training program that shine the light on individual successes. When someone on your team completes a training target or reaches a goal, make it a win. Encourage everyone to celebrate, reward the achievements and have a little fun.