Top 7 Strategies to Boost Employee Engagement

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Engaged employees need to connect with a purpose and reach their potential through learning and targeted feedback.

Do you know how to structure your learning programs to meet the needs of adult learners? Does your organizational culture foster engagement and a growth mindset? These are questions every organization needs to consider. Psychologist Carol Dweck believes that thinking about new challenges with the “power of yet” helps people think in terms of learning, instead of their current capabilities. By embracing the belief that you have the power to improve, you can meet new challenges head on with an excitement to learn.

So how do we build programs that enable adult learners to put that growth mindset to work? To see engagement and improvement in performance, we must allow employees to stretch their boundaries through practice with targeted feedback.  This can be done by keeping seven important strategies in mind when structuring your programs.

img-blog-Maslow

Adapted from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

 

Here are the top seven strategies to help you design an online learning program for adult learners in today’s workplace: 

Motivation:

When adults choose for themselves to enter a training program (as opposed to assigned learning), they have a higher level of motivation to learn.  They appreciate a program that is structured systematically with clearly specified requirements (objectives). This helps in keeping their motivation, since they know where they are in the program and where they are going next.

In the online environment, make sure to:

  • Communicate clear learning paths
  • Ensure objectives are outlined
  • Consider enabling access to coaches or mentors to promote structure
  • Encourage the use of learning partners
  • Enable employees to create their own personal learning plan

Apply immediately:

Adults want to know how the material that will be taught will benefit them.  They expect the material to be relevant and to quickly grasp the practical use of the content.

In the online environment, make sure to:

  • Foster applicability via practical content
  • Integrate applicability questions
  • Encourage discussion with a mentor or coach
  • Enable interactivity and reflections via discussions
  • Use real-life examples

Time:

Time is an important consideration.  Adults expect the learning events to start and finish on schedule and they do not like to waste time.

In the online environment, make sure to:

  • Design learning into components or chunks
  • Indicate the estimated duration of each component in the description
  • Ensure optimum use of time via easy navigation and user-friendly interface:
    • Provide quick reference guides
    • Use single sign-on to avoid password fatigue
    • Make directions clear and easy to understand

Experience:

Adults bring to a class their extensive experience from their personal and working lives.  These experiences should be used as major resources by helping students relate to the subject being studied.

In the online environment, make sure to:

  • Encourage collaboration
  • Entice employees to draw on their own experiences through exercises and reflection
  • Provide real-life scenarios

Independence:

Many adults are self-directed and independent, while some lack confidence and need reassurance. Regardless, adults prefer that the instructor serve as a facilitator to guide and assist rather than an authoritarian leader.

In the online environment, make sure to:

  • Keep the tone appropriate to respect the perspective of the employee
  • Allow employees to choose their own learning path
  • Make coaches or mentors available to ask questions
  • Enable feedback – built into the course, through peers, through coaches

Evaluation:

Adults want to participate in decision making.  They want to cooperate with the instructor in a mutual assessment of needs and goals, the choice of activities, and decisions on how to evaluate learning.

In the online environment, make sure to:

  • Enable extensive feedback prior to evaluation
  • Whenever possible, let the employee choose if they want to be evaluated
  • Use an encouraging tone for all feedback
  • Be clear on how learning records are stored and shared in your organization

Established routine:

Adults may be less flexible.  Their habits and methods of operation might have developed into a routine.  They are sensitive to being placed in embarrassing situations.  Before they accept a different way of doing something, they want to understand what the advantages would be.

In the online environment, make sure to:

  • Ensure new technologies are explained clearly and provide opportunities for practice
  • Include feedback in learning materials
  • Provide encouragement to employees
  • Be conscious of “Impostor Syndrome” (some adults may feel everyone else is more qualified to be there)

People are able to develop continuously throughout their life and the major contributing factor to this development is their mindset.  As we create programs to foster engagement and growth in our organizations, it’s important to think about the mindset of our employees.  Let’s work to foster the power of yet!

If you are interested in learning more, check out our webinar Putting the learner first – Adult learner characteristics in the online environment.

Additional Resources:
Why CBE Works for the New Student Demographic
Learning is a Process, Not an Event
How to Engage the New Demographic of Students
Putting the Learner First

 

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