Some employees will always be eager to learn new things, fueled by ambition and a natural desire to improve themselves. For many employees, however, training and learning new responsibilities is a chore. Disengaged employees cost the United States economy more than $350 billion per year, and when disengagement unfolds in initial training sessions, the damage is even worse.
Fortunately, this perspective that training is an unnecessary and boring chore is usually the result of bad experiences and poor training from previous jobs. So is it possible to stimulate a new desire within these employees? Can you make someone want to learn, and feel actively rewarded by the learning and training process?
Making Employees Want to Learn
While there will always be some employees and some factors beyond your control, you can improve your training program’s engagement by instituting the following factors:
- Employee control. According to recent research, one of the most important factors for an employee’s happiness and engagement is autonomy—even more so than compensation or other working conditions. What does professional autonomy refer to? It refers to employees’ abilities to call their own shots, set their own goals and schedules, and operate without being under constant supervision or direction. Some of these areas may sound like a stretch, but the more autonomy you give your employees in the training process, the better; let them go at their own pace, and spend more time on the sections they feel are most important or rewarding.
- Personalization. It’s also effective to include more elements of personalization in your training program. Nobody wants to sit through the same tedious training video that thousands of other people have seen, or walk through the same identical steps that countless past employees have followed. Yes, there’s a benefit to systemizing your training program, and consistency is important, but you also need to be flexible enough to account for each new employee’s strengths, weaknesses, and personal preferences (to an extent).
- Iterative progress and rewards. People tend to learn more effectively when presented with a step-by-step approach. It helps break down complex, otherwise intimidating concepts, and gives them a sense of being rewarded (or at least making progress) whenever they complete a step. If you combine the completion of those steps with actual rewards (such as cash bonuses or personal incentives), this effect can be even stronger. This is one reason gamification has become so popular.
- The group experience. Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of the people surrounding your new trainee on the overall training experience. Having a personable, flexible supervisor can make training seem far less intense and more enjoyable. And if you’re thinking of making your training program exclusively digital, reconsider; modern training software is extraordinarily effective, but it still performs best when paired with human instructors (and peers).
Using the Right Software
Your training program’s success is a culmination of multiple factors, including your requirements for new hires, the people you have in HR, and how seriously you take the training process. But while there’s no single factor that can instantly make your training program work, there is one strong step that can improve your process in multiple areas at once: upgrading your software.
Investing in better training software will ease the burden on your trainers, make the process more engaging for your new hires, and can even provide you with detailed feedback of how your program is performing. If your training software is out-of-date, it can compromise the effectiveness of all your other strategies.