It’s no secret that training and employee engagement go hand in hand, and most leaders know that engagement is closely linked to retention. The effect appears across all levels of organizations, from the front-line workers all the way up to management and executive levels. Studies have shown that opportunities for development are a particularly strong driver of engagement for the Millennial generation, and employees who have access to development opportunities are anywhere from 15-20% more engaged than those without.
Providing them the tools needed to advance their skills and create a more confident, skilled team is a crucial piece of the overall puzzle. Employees need to see how their work contributes to the overall vision of the company, and also have the skills needed to make an impact on progress toward organizational goals. Companies that have a practice of investing in learning and development for their employees see the impact of training on employee engagement that goes far beyond day-to-day involvement. In our work with the world’s leading organizations, we consistently see four ways that training and employee engagement are linked.
1. Training needs to nurture talent
People want to be employed by companies that create an environment for development, which can result in new skills that enable individuals to grow personally, professionally, and even financially as new capabilities lead to new opportunities. When employers take the time to invest and nurture the talent of their employees, they are increasing engagement, opportunity, and satisfaction. Sure, people need training for the specific tasks associated with their job roles. But to really have an impact on engagement over time, L&D needs to take a long-term view of talent development. Offer opportunities that encourage people to stretch and grow. Give individual contributors the chance to stand up and lead. People want to work for companies that are investing in the talent they already have on board.
Nurturing the talent of your team will also help to boost confidence, which can have a positive ripple effect for the whole organization. This is especially true with sales teams. The more confident the sales team is, the greater the chances are for closing deals—a win-win for both the employee and company.
2. Increase motivation with the right learning opportunities
Engaged employees are motivated to go beyond what’s required on the job, particularly when they can see a direct line between their roles and the overall mission of the organization. When companies invest in employees by providing development opportunities that are well-crafted and designed to meet real needs, it demonstrates that you value them as individuals. Knowing that they are valued and have opportunities will naturally give them the motivation to advance, both personally and as a team.
Training that motivates people back on the job must address the very real needs and problems employees are facing. These can be interpersonal issues, struggles to collaborate in a remote environment, and even the distractions of life outside of work that are magnified in the home office. While training can’t necessarily address all of those challenges, it’s important to be able to empathize with what people are going through and consider those issues in learning design. Empathetic learning design is a technique that can help to overcome many motivational barriers.
3. Help to improve retention
People truly value the opportunity to advance their professional skills. In today’s job market, employee satisfaction and engagement are vital. In 2020, wages and participation in the shift to contract work grew by more than 33%, and that trend has continued since. People feel more empowered than they may have in the past, and they want to feel satisfied at work while also having the flexibility to accomplish other needs in their lives. In 2021, almost 60% of workers embarked on their own training programs to further their professional skills. What if you could identify the gap that existed in their workplaces and led them to seek professional development outside of work? Learning opportunities that enable employees to advance their careers help people to engage in their work and find opportunities for internal growth, reducing the need to look elsewhere.
4. Build team culture
Culture and engagement have a deep connection, and many leaders are newly focused on ways to build culture in a hybrid workforce. Employee engagement can be a strong indicator of a positive company culture. Company culture is reflected in how people work together, why and how people are motivated, and what opportunities they have. A culture that promotes engagement can lead to better performance when everyone is included and their contributions are valued.
Our ExperienceBUILDERTM simulations give teams the opportunity to work through difficult situations together with no clear-cut answer. While everyone is working towards a common goal, differing opinions about how to get there open the opportunity for conversations. These simulations are particularly effective in a company culture that welcomes thoughtful conversations between team members with diverse backgrounds and experiences.
Ongoing development of employees is key to thriving organizations. By developing employees, and especially leaders, you are offering the tools and opportunities people need to advance, giving them a feeling of value and motivation to do more. When employees are engaged in their work, the organization as a whole succeeds. The link between training and employee engagement offers learning leaders a significant opportunity to make a demonstrable impact on the business. If you’re ready to give your employees the opportunity for growth and increase engagement, contact us to schedule a consultation. We’re full of ideas about how to create training that engages employees.