Performance Support

Four close connections between training and employee engagement

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. 

Intelligent support that is accessible just-in-time at the point of need.

In a short time, our world has changed dramatically. No longer is knowledge and information bound to printed volumes or even desktops. We now have the ability to create interactive elearning content and publish it on mobile devices, including iPhones, making it instantly available anytime, no matter where we are.

Gone also are the days of memorizing vast amounts of information for instant recall.  We now have instant access to vast libraries of information, far more than we could have ever hoped to memorize in a lifetime.  Mobile accessible eLearning makes it possible for us to access just about any knowledge we desire wherever we are, just when we need it.   In this way, it represents a tremendous breakthrough for reference and performance support.   But having all of this information at your fingertips can also be overwhelming. The real breakthrough is achieved when learners are able to find exactly the right information, when and where they need it.

In the late 80’s and 90’s Roger Shank, then Dean of Northwestern’s Institute for Learning Sciences, pioneered research into expert tutoring systems using artificial intelligence.  That evolved into “ask” systems that let users access relevant help by simply selecting the question that they want to have answered.  As a practical matter, these systems were never really “artificially intelligent.”  They relied upon developers and programmers to develop hard coded pathways that they believed would best serve the learner.

Fast forward a decade… Google and others have made huge strides toward anticipating which website we are searching for when we enter a request into their search engines and serving up the information most relevant to us.  This technology has given way to a new generation of “ask” systems.

The latest generation of performance support pioneered by the Blueline team, leverages these new “ask” system capabilities. Search responses, relevant links and associated content are determined using a gaming engine model (rules and probabilities) to predict and share the most relevant content for each user. The engine “learns” from previous users’ choices and the designer’s intended objectives.  So in this case, you could say that the learner’s experience evolves “intelligently” based on the succession of choices they make.

Pair this next generation of “ask” systems with mobile delivery and you have an unprecedented business tool.   Intelligent support that is accessible just-in-time at the point of need.

Would you like to explore potential strategies for putting these exciting new platforms to work in your organization? Blueline is here to help!

Going Mobile: Learning’s New Holy Grail?

In a short time, our world has changed. We now have the ability to create interactive elearning content and publish it on mobile devices, including iPhones, using HTML5.  Within a few months I am absolutely confident that Blueline’s designers will be able to distribute our award-winning computer based elearning and esimulations via every mobile device imaginable.

But just because we can, does that mean we should? (That’s a great question that one of the characters posed in the movie Jurassic Park. You may remember what happened to them.)

Before I go any further, let’s define our terms. Learning delivered on your phone qualifies as mobile learning. Learning on your desktop computer is not mobile learning.

What about learning on your laptop or iPad? In terms of defining “mobile,” those are gray areas. Sure, I can take them all with me all the time, but I don’t.  I take my laptop on business trips.  I use my iPad when I am around the house. But not always.

However, I never – literally NEVER – am more than a few feet away from my iPhone. Any content that comes to me on my iPhone is, in the purest sense, mobile.

Mobile Data… or Mobile Learning

And here’s where I make my point: It’s easy to get caught up in the belief that all learning should now be developed for mobile.  That everything we create from now on should be developed in HTML5 or one of the myriad of publishing tools that promises to deliver everything that we create to our iPhones, iPads, BlackBerrys and Android devices.

But it’s just not true.  There, I said it.

But sift through the hype, and you’ll discover some important opportunities. Mobile Learning IS transformational.  It has already reshaped what and how we learn.  Gone are the days of memorizing vast amounts of information for instant recall.  I now have instant access to vast libraries of information, far more than I could have ever hoped to memorize in my lifetime.  The skills needed to effectively consume and apply that information are the real Holy Grail.

Mobile Learning makes it possible for us to access just about any knowledge we desire wherever we are, just when we need it.   In this way, it represents a tremendous breakthrough for reference and performance support. Which is where “true” mobile learning shines.

So what does that mean for designers and developers of training?  Your job just got harder on multiple levels. First, you have to tell the business leaders banging on your door that mobile learning doesn’t effectively eliminate ALL time away from the job dedicated to learning and development.  And second, you need to think through a multi-dimensional blended learning strategy that balances classroom, virtual classroom, online and mobile strategies to maximize impact on the business.

Well actually, that last part is really good news.  Because never before did you have so many awesome tools at your disposal to deliver value to your business partners.

And, if you have questions or want to brainstorm potential strategies for putting these exciting new platforms to work in your organization, Blueline is here to help!

An Evolution in Learning: Welcome to the Age of Integration (part 2)

Do you want to deliver on your learning objective at the exact moment of need?

In my previous post, I examined the evolution of learning methodologies — from transactional to constructivist to integrated.

In this post, I’m going to share some new ideas we have for delivering your mission-critical content to the point of greatest learning impact: the moment that your employee is doing the work.

Introducing Go Team.
At Blueline Simulations, we are excited to make available a new, best-in-class team training product to our clients. It’s called “Go Team: Powering Team Performance,” and it’s a case study in integrated learning.

There are no mouse clicks here! We use immersive traditional media, delivered to teams in short modules at the moment of need.

For example, let’s say your intact workgroup faces an important decision. That’s the perfect moment to deliver the Go Team module: “Making Team Decisions.” As the need is identified, the team leader goes online and prints handouts for team members then, over a brief two-hour period, (perhaps an extended lunch?) the team is encouraged to analyze their decision and come to a consensus for action. And, of course, in the process they will practice skills for decision making that they can exercise over and over again in the future.

Go Team consists of 18 learning modules that cover a variety of learning needs that teams experience universally. Topics include Clarifying Team Roles, Building on Style Differences, Running Effective Meetings, Resolving Conflict, Giving & Receiving Feedback, Sparking Team Creativity, Managing Change and many more.

The age of integrated learning is here. And Blueline Simulations is at the front line, delivering and developing performance support tools (utilizing a wide range of technology and dialogue based solutions) that deliver on your learning objective at the exact moment of need with an almost surgical precision.

Want to know more or get a taste of Go Team as well as our other immersive, integrated learning tools and approaches? Contact us today. And we’ll show you what’s next in the world of organizational learning.

The Art, Science and Practice of Coaching – Part 2

Kate McLagan continues her discussion of “The Art, Science, and Practice of Coaching.” Click to read Part 1: The Art of Coaching.

The Science of Coaching
To get the best out of people, we have to believe the best is in there. But how do we know it is? How much is there? How do we get it out?

What percentage of people’s potential manifests itself in the workplace on average? I’ve heard figures to over 70%, but the average for any group turns out remarkably often to be about 40%!

What is the reasoning behind those figures? The three most consistent answers I get are:

  • successes outside the workplace
  • effective response in a crisis
  • belief that they can be more productive

And what do you suppose the external blocks that obstruct the manifestation of individuals’ full potential are? Most frequently cited:

  • restrictive structures and practices of the organization
  • lack of encouragement and opportunity
  • prevailing management style of the company’s managers

To build a sustainable competitive advantage in this new knowledge-driven economy and rapidly changing market place, companies need continuous coaching and learning support provided to all their key employees.

Therefore, the Science of Coaching comes in learning effective people skills to understand and manage the performance potential of our employees and what motivates them at work, as well as the measurement of that work. Coaching is a way of managing, a way of treating people, and a way of thinking. If managers bear this principle in mind and act on it authentically, they will be staggered by the resulting improvements in performance. The most successful companies are focusing more on bringing out their employees’ potential in order to retain their best performers.

Tune in next week for Part 3: The Practice of Coaching.

Click here for a free white paper: Learning Coaching Techniques Through Online Simulations.

Kate McLagan has more than 20 years of business experience in various leadership and consulting roles. She has guided her clients through significant organizational change and led a variety of workforce development and performance management initiatives to achieve business objectives. Kate has significant experience in the high tech industry providing services in leadership development, change management, corporate training, executive coaching and career management execution. Kate may be reached at katemclagan@gmail.com.