How to increase employee engagement: Lessons from L&D experts

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3 mins, 14 secs read time

Investing in your talent isn’t just good business – it’s one of the best ways to stay ahead in a competitive talent market. According to a recent Gallup report, the American Upskilling Study: Empowering Workers for the Jobs of Tomorrow, 65% of workers consider employer-provided upskilling an important factor when evaluating a potential job. Employees are seeking opportunities where their learning and development (L&D) journey is continuously nurtured.

To gain more insight into building an impactful and supportive L&D function, we spoke with Greenhouse L&D experts, Will Leahy, VP of People Development & Business Partners and Minji Lew, Director of People Development. Here are their top five tips to help you develop a successful L&D program that increases employee engagement and retention.

1. Learning requires real-world practice and a collaborative ecosystem

Real learning happens when people are engaged and invested in solving actual challenges they face. Minji explained, “While workshops and training programs are beneficial, expecting people to learn a new skill in a session that immediately solves their problems isn’t realistic.”

Minji added that it’s important to give people the time and space to practice, fail and reinforce what they learn in real life, among the other people processes and programs they work with. “A collaborative ecosystem that reinforces learning in this way is a powerful tool for achieving long-term progress,” said Minji.

2. Fostering community is essential for impactful learning

As more organizations adopt distributed work, it’s becoming apparent that community is crucial for impactful learning. “While e-learning is helpful, it can also be isolating since it lacks the core element of contextualizing with others,” said Will. “Relying solely on e-learning is unlikely to result in behavioral change, so it's essential to create opportunities for cohort learning, community debriefs and thought-sharing on Slack.”

”Encouraging dialogue and collaboration among learners can enhance the learning experience and lead to better outcomes,” added Will.

3. Emphasize the importance of skill-building for professional growth

Will explained that organizations need to communicate their value and provide clear guidance on how people can effectively build their skills.

While learning and development should be enjoyable, Minji emphasizes that it's also critical for employees to recognize and prioritize its importance in their professional growth. Development programs take an extraordinary amount of effort and time and often face limited resources.

4. Humanize learning and development to increase employee engagement

It’s essential to approach learning and development with a human touch and prioritize humor, relatable experiences and equity. “Capturing people’s attention, especially in a virtual setting, can be challenging, but it is possible to teach complex change management concepts while keeping learners engaged and excited,” said Will.

Will and Minji agreed that it’s important to factor in different learning styles and use inclusive images, language and accommodations. If the goal is to create space for open and vulnerable conversations, the learning experience must be humanized.

5. Measure the impact of L&D programs on business goals

L&D programs should help solve business problems in a way that can be measured. “Consider the following questions when evaluating the impact of L&D,” recommended Will.

  • Do the participants in your programs stay longer at your company than non-participants?
  • Are they more engaged?
  • Did they retain more customers or improve sales afterward?
  • Did their performance ratings improve?

“Aligning your L&D programs with your company's goals or OKRs helps ensure that they’re addressing specific business needs,” he explained.

With more jobseekers and employees looking to grow in their careers, it’s clear that investing in learning and development is vital to boost employee engagement and retention. By implementing these tips, organizations can create impactful L&D programs that help their employees grow and develop, resulting in better outcomes for all.

Want to learn more about nurturing great talent? Check out the Talent Makers book on how to create a world-class hiring system.

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