Three proven learner engagement strategies for today's L&D landscape

Jun 07, 2022

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For a long time, learner engagement strategies have primarily focused on tactics: using tips and tricks to get learners into the platform and ensure the maximum number of learners finish their modules. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. (We even have a list of a few learner engagement tips ourselves!) These optimizations can be helpful, and metrics like time spent learning and completion rates are useful indicators of what’s happening with your learners.

But to deeply engage participants and maximize their learning, we need to move past tactical suggestions and toward a more ambitious vision of the role learning can play in the larger business. This means thinking about engagement in a whole new way: one that doesn’t just ask how we can get learners into our platform but focuses instead on what makes learning matter and why learners and leaders should care.

So we've compiled a few learner engagement best practices that work for today's L&D landscape, where learners are busy, upskilling is essential for both employee engagement and business sucess, and impactful learning has never been more important for the organizations that want to remain resilient in times of change.

Three proven learner engagement strategies

1. Develop a consultative approach to L&D.

A consultative approach is all about having a business challenge or business outcome in mind when designing your learning.

A consultative L&D strategy is also much more likely to make your initiative learner-centric in two ways:

To carry out this strategy, L&D must become a true partner to the business. This starts with interviewing leaders, managers, and learners to get a sense of their objectives, gain a window into their struggles, and envision the role learning can play to drive desired outcomes.

Ultimately, taking the time to deeply understand the business and get this buy-in from stakeholders across levels will pay dividends in learning engagement. When learning is seen as transformational rather than transactional and the relationship between learning goals and business objectives is clear, everyone in the organization will be motivated to make it a priority.

2. Communicate that learning is a tool, not a task.

You know learning isn’t something to just check off the list, but a real opportunity for employees to advance their careers. But how do you communicate this? One way to help the learner feel like a partner in their own development is to encourage managers to discuss learning in 1:1s. Regular check-ins about learning can help managers show that learning is a key way employees can enhance their contributions to the organization and advance in their career, too.

To make the relationship between learning and career growth clear, managers should drive home the message that learning:

These communications should be crafted with an eye toward your specific organizational culture and the incentives that best that motivate your employees. While L’Oréal built an incredibly effective aspirational campaign around learning, showcasing “learnfluencers” at events and on screens throughout their headquarters, PepsiCo and AB InBev tapped into their competitive cultures to frame learning as a challenge, encouraging different learning teams to compete against one another for recognition and clout.

3. Meet learners where they are.

Often, when people say there’s just no time for learning, it’s because they’re not making it a strategic priority. But other times, it's just the (unfortunate!) truth.

When burnout is on the rise and employee wellbeing is suffering, setting realistic goals can help learners stay engaged with––and optimistic about––learning. Sometimes this means lowering weekly or monthly learning targets, or communicating that it’s fine for learning tasks to move temporarily to employees’ backlogs. Other times, it means switching the learning strategy altogether, like offering learning resources that will help teams focus on wellbeing, thrive amidst shifting priorities, or stay agile during times of change.

Our clients have also seen success with encouraging employees to aim for shorter but more frequent learning sessions rather than attempting to block off large chunks of time. In the long run, this more frequent and consistent learning often leads to more total learning time!

The bottom line on learner engagement strategies

We love how our VP of client solutions Natalia Gonzalez Chavez described her vision of what drives great learner engagement: “The important thing for learner engagement is that learners are able to see how, ‘Okay, this program isn’t just something I’m forced to do; it’s actually going to help me achieve my goals.’”

Tactical tips for learner engagement can help in the day-to-day, but for sustained and enthusiastic learner engagement, it's all about making learning relevant to work. Make learning valuable, and learners will value it, too...and you'll watch your engagement take off!


To learn more about Nomadic's cohort-based learning and how we use great learning design and strategic alignment to drive record engagement, download your free copy of our report, Why the Future of Learning is Instructorless, which explores how we designed our entire learning experience to put learners at the center.

Want to learn more about what Nomadic can do for your organization? Learn about our approach, or get in touch to request a demo.

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