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Closing The Engagement Gap: The biggest learning barrier you hadn’t thought of

Ask most people or L&D teams why they’re not learning, and they’ll probably tell you it’s a time issue. Sure, that’s part of it, but there’s a much simpler and more straightforward question to answer before we get to that point:

Are your employees engaged in learning? Because without engagement, people don’t learn.

Think about the difference between when you’ve wanted to do something and when you’ve been forced to. It’s night and day! When you’re switched on, you’re really into it and make the most of the situation. If you’re dragged kicking and screaming, you’re a reluctant participant and get little out of it.

The same problem rears its head in the world of people development. When learning feels like a tick-box exercise you’re made to do or forces you over to a platform or resources that just don’t click, people become disengaged with learning. 

The good news is, there are ways to close The Engagement Gap, reignite people’s fire for development, and improve the return on your learning investments.

How do I know if we’ve got an Engagement Gap?

Engagement is really the first link in the chain, so it’s actually pretty easy to spot when the gap opens up. Basically, everything you’d want or expect to happen with learning experiences normally breaks without engagement. 

And so there are typically telltale signs that you’re dealing with an Engagement Gap:

  • Licenses for your software and course libraries are currently unused.
  • Usage metrics for tools like your learning management system (LMS) are low.
  • L&D’s reputation in the business isn’t exactly a glowing one.
  • There’s a lack of manager buy-in with your learning efforts. 

All of these are situations which engagement would improve. If people understand the value of learning and like the tools you offer, those license and metric woes would decrease significantly. If you’re engaging them by presenting L&D as a solution to solve their challenges and help hit goals, those last two engagement hurdles will be overcome too.

Other reasons Engagement Gaps open and why old-school learning tech doesn’t help

There’s no beating around the bush, most companies encounter Engagement Gaps because the tech they’re currently using doesn’t align with how modern employees want to learn! According to LinkedIn Learning:

  • 49% of people want to learn at the point of need. 
  • 58% of employees prefer to learn at their own pace.
  • 68% of employees prefer to learn at work.

And that translates to three simple things: They want to learn in the flow of work, have access to resources on-demand and translate that to real-life, on-the-job situations.

The trouble is, the traditional LMS wasn’t built for those things, offering learning that’s detached from people’s daily workflow and pulling them out of the tools where they could apply learning. 

And, from that LMS perspective, it’s happening during the worst possible moment, because we’re now in the midst of an on-demand revolution. The way we interact with software and services has completely changed, with the likes of Netflix and Deliveroo the perfect example. They offer the always-on, tailored offerings and instant gratification most of us have come to expect. 

How can I close my Engagement Gap?

The simple answer? Implement all the advice we’ve given so far! Even something as simple as reconnecting with learners and leaders to understand how you could solve their problems helps. That conversation will engage them in a different way, but it’ll give you the opportunity to figure out their biggest challenges and pitch L&D as a solution – an even more effective means of connecting with them.

The other, more complicated option involves an honest audit of your learning tech and general software stack. If you’re going to close the Engagement Gap through tech, you need to understand where people work and how you can support them with learning in those tools they already use.

(Remember, people want on-demand, personal learning they can apply on the job).

Integrating with the tools people already use

For example, if your sales team uses Salesforce or customer support are reliant on Intercom, they’ll face timely and pressing issues. And ideally, they need support within those tools and situations. If you can bring learning to them in those moments, you’ll tick those three boxes we mentioned above.

At HowNow, our learning experience platform (LXP) integrates with the tools people use every day, like Slack, Teams and Google. If someone sends you a useful reply, you can save it immediately as a HowNow Nugget within Slack.

As you might expect, that also means you can search for, access and share resources the same way – directly in Teams or Slack, without leaving the app. And each time you search in Google, our Browser Extension surfaces all your relevant content alongside the results. All of these examples reduce the friction to finding valuable information and drive engagement.

Providing relevant, continuous learning

The more relevant your content and learning recommendations are, the more engaged people will be. Think about two friends: the one who always tells you about great shows and another whose recommendations leave you nodding off five minutes into episode one.

We go to that first friend time and again, more often, asking for recommendations because we know we’ll love them. We can and should aim to replicate this with learning!

That’s why HowNow recommends relevant content to people based on their role, skills and goals, tapping into the power of AI to learn more about your employees and deliver more personalised experiences over time. That means when people log in, useful content finds them, rather than the other way around.

We also allow L&D admins to create groups and channels for their people, based on anything from their department to which office they work in. This means the right content can be assigned to the right people at the right times, ensuring that they get relevant content rather than feeling overwhelmed by resources that aren’t the right fit.

Creating one place for learning

That’s push learning covered, but getting the pull aspect right goes a long way to engaging people! And building one central, on-demand base for knowledge offers people learning on tap.

Especially in the flexible, distributed, hybrid and global ways we work today. Imagine you’re outside the timezone of a knowledgeable colleague and need to pick their brain.

Normally, you’d be at the mercy of when they’re next online. But if you’re capturing knowledge from subject matter experts and adding it to that one place, people can search for and find it when they need it. Which, as we now know, is a key driver of engagement…

We’d love to help you close your Engagement Gap! Book a demo today and tell us how we can support your L&D goals.