A design team meeting to train on a new workflow process
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The customer experience can make or break an online brand. According to Oracle, 86 percent of buyers will pay more for a better brand experience. Thus, the concept of continuously improving the customer experience has become a staple priority among leading companies. But what about the people inside those companies?

According to Blake Morgan, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by a staggering 147 percent. Furthermore, 79 percent of employees who work at companies that deliver above-average customer experience are highly engaged in their jobs, compared to the 49 percent of employees who work at companies with either an average or below-average customer experience.

Enjoyable yet valuable staff training processes are one way for a company to improve the employee experience and heighten employee engagement.

Employee Engagement: Definition, Trends and Observations

Employee engagement is an approach that fosters and creates optimum working conditions that enables staff to willingly commit to the organization’s goals and values while enhancing their sense of their well-being. Sandra Slager, president of Skye Learning further explained the importance of employee engagement. “Employees are engaged when they feel an emotional connection to, and passion for, the work they’re doing and the company they’re doing it for. Not to be confused with employee satisfaction, which is often determined by length of commute, pay, benefits and perks. Employee engagement requires the employee to feel meaning in their work, [and] that their contribution is important and impactful.”

In April this year, Pew Research reported that the millennial workforce is now the largest generation in the US. Yet, Gallup reported that 55 percent of millennials are not engaged at work. To this end, Slager noted that that millennials are “distinct in their craving for meaningful relationships with their work.”

“As a general population, millennials do not stay at a job or with a company they find to be transactional in nature. With waning company loyalty, if employers want to retain staff, especially those who are newer to the workforce, they must tap into the employee’s emotional attachment to the work, providing a meaningful work experience,” explained Slager.

Related Article: Why Improving Employee Engagement Should Be Your Priority

How Staff Training Aids the Employee Experience

Employees thrive working in an environment that focuses on making them more valuable assets. “Staff training is vitally important in increasing employee engagement. Employees feel valued through career enhancement and development, which therefore increases motivation to achieve company objectives,” said Rachel Allen, head of people & culture at BPS World.

Janne Hietala, chief commercial officer at Valamis, concurred. He mentioned that when “employees have lots of learning and development opportunities in their workplace, they are most likely more engaged and happier in their jobs.”

Related Article: Understanding The Difference Between Employee Experience And Engagement

Increasing Employee Engagement

The most obvious way to improve staff training is to implement industry-leading learning management systems. With more brands resorting to these learning platforms to get the job done, the Global Market Insight forecasts that the eLearning market will exceed $200 billion by 2024. Yet, despite the prominent rise of the eLearning market, many brands are still using conventional staff training methods. 

Hietala highlighted that legacy systems and offline training courses are “not personalized enough” for the millennial generation. “Oftentimes learning is not engaging enough in organizations because it is not personalized enough. Technology can be utilized in personalizing learning, [for example], artificial intelligence (AI) can help in personalization or contextualization of learning delivered to an employee, using information about a person’s previous experiences and background, and their goals,” explained Hietala.

Hietala further advised brands to adopt a micro-learning approach and to make training materials and resources accessible via mobile devices. Plus, she underlined the importance of social and gamified learning. “Learning and development managers should focus on embracing social and informal learning, information sharing, and enabling access to the right information or subject-matter expert at the right time. Gamification features can make learning more fun and engaging,” Hietala said.

Finally, Hietala advised learning and development managers to “utilize advanced learning experience platforms and specifically xAPI statements to track all learning activities inside and outside the learning platform.” That way, Hietala said, organizations can recognize the parts of the learning process that are not engaging enough and need adjustment.

Libby Mullen, learning & development manager at BizLibrary, also echoed her support for organizations to embrace digital training solutions — but advised brands to consider a “blended approach” to cater to different learning styles. “The methods and delivery of training are just as important as the availability and consistency of development experiences. A blended approach is recommended. That includes micro-learning, instructor-led training, projects, assessments and cross-functional discussions and experiences, all followed up with learning retention opportunities. This intentional variety keeps learning exciting, addresses different learning styles, and offers more depth, which employees crave,” said Mullen.

According to Mullen, a blended approach also “leaves room for self-directed personal and professional development.” Mullen also championed the use of micro-learning content like short videos. “Having open, unlimited access to a professionally curated, robust library of relevant micro-learning video content allows employees to solve challenges they may be facing in their current role, and affords them opportunities to develop and grow in ways that align with their career goals in the company. Plus, this method of training is often natural to them, like “Googling” or “YouTubing” to solve a problem or learn something new,” Mullen continued.

This emerging trend of finding solutions to problems links to discovery-based learning, which can empower staff. “Discovery-based learning models or applications can empower employees and enhance their motivation and overall business performance. Everything should be linked back to these practical applications for the training in the workplace with the goal of achieving the company’s values and objectives,” explained Allen.

What’s your strategy for improving staff training and employee engagement in 2019?