According to most definitions, an “engaged” employee is a high-quality performer who takes personal responsibility to work toward the success of an organization. Imagine if all your learners fit this definition. Such a population would likely look forward to training, proactively request clarification as needed, and eagerly apply new skills on the job.
It’s no wonder that researchers credit employee engagement with financial benefits related to customer service, teamwork and productivity.
The perceptions and attitudes of learners prior to starting training can impact performance just as much as the training itself — sometimes more. Afterward, engagement must be measured (typically done through a survey), and the organization must act on the results.
Unfortunately, many companies fail to act on survey results, which can actually lead to negative consequences like frustration, disillusionment and distrust on the part of employees/respondents.
I’m not going to claim that you can transform a group into a highly engaged workforce overnight. But you can help an organization make progress.
In a recent study, organizational leaders said that employee engagement survey results weren’t actionable. They didn’t know what to do after the results were handed to them. They also said that it was easy to forget about engagement after initial communication.
Here’s where you come in...
As instructional designers, most of us know a thing or two about goal-setting, communication and other types of performance-improvement interventions. So let’s flex these muscles in ways that go beyond e-learning by supporting employee engagement efforts through a communication plan that includes a few really straight-forward components:
>>Communicating engagement results throughout the organization.
>>Making actionable recommendations that leaders can follow to improve engagement on their teams.
>>Formulating a routine, year-round strategy for announcing positive changes resulting from the survey.
Several instructional design theorists remind us of the importance of supporting learners after they complete an e-learning course (like Gagne,Merrill, Keller, etc.). Though we must ensure this support is in place for each training effort, enhancing engagement can contribute to an ongoing sense of organizational support.
—Shelley A. Gable is an instructional designer, freelance writer (http://shelleygable.wordpress.com) and associate of Integrated Learning Services, Inc. She has a master’s degree in Instructional and Performance Technology from Boise State University and a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Communication from the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire.