How can learning and development impact employee engagement?

Maintaining continuing employee engagement is becoming more difficult in the current fast-paced business environment, where employers and employees alike need to be flexible and adaptable to new requirements. Employee engagement is fundamental to business well-being; it reduces staff turnover, improves efficiency and helps to retain customers, thus increasing profit. 

A survey, conducted by the Hay Group in 2013 concluded that of six million UK employees, 35% of them were not engaged with the organisation they worked for, and only 15% of them felt highly motivated. The survey also revealed that employee disengagement costs businesses up to £340 billion every year. The silver lining in this somewhat ominous cloud is that the 35% of disengaged employees also represents £340 billion that could be generated.

What really makes an engaged employee? 

According to the Institute of Employment Studies, an engaged employee:

Employees need to feel that there is a common goal between their own future and that of their organisation. They want to feel valued, make tangible contributions. They hope to make a difference to the workplace and their colleagues because they are professionally and emotionally involved in what they do.

In the current professional climate, however, employees are required to be agile, especially concerning technology, resulting in a continuous redevelopment of their skills. This can lead to demotivation and disengagement as many find it hard to keep up. For this reason, employers must find new ways in which to motivate their staff. 

Essential changes

In the last ten years, a strategy of “Learning to Engage” has proven to be vital in retaining staff and one of the most successful tools to improve employee engagement. Training allows employees to gain new skills and perfect those they already have, to become more agile and to improve processes as their skills evolve.

Research shows that 87% of millennials consider development to be important in their job and that 40% of employees who do not receive adequate training or opportunities for development will leave their job within five years. 

Find Courses’ 2018 Report shows that development training is five times more likely to be offered by top-performing companies and that employees engaged through such training exhibited greater engagement with the organisation as a whole. 

So, what are the steps that must be taken to engage an employee through learning and development? 

Recognise the importance of training

With the growing percentage of millennials in the workplace, careers are now based upon a continuous learning process. Millennials feel that their job must provide for their personal development. 

Get everyone on board and create a company-wide learning culture

Make training and development part of your mission, across the board. Senior executives have the ability to influence the workforce, so make them your learning champions.

Tailor the training according to different needs rather than attempting to treat everyone in the same way

Every employee has their own aspirations and has their own career path. Above all, people learn in different ways. Offer personalised training, possibly in various formats, to cater for all needs.

Use the technology

Training does not have to be boring! Make full use of current techniques and delivery channels including social media, podcasts, e-learning, gamification or virtual reality. Make it fun and engaging.

Measure progress

You can track progress through a Learning Management System that will also allow trainees to be in charge of their own learning journey and to analyse their strengths and areas for improvement. Your HR department can also use the tool to measure success and identify the top performers.

Award and recognise success

Rewarding top performers is key to increasing employee engagement and making your staff feel valued. It is a great way of putting employees at the centre of the organisation.

Involve your HR department

Make sure that your HR function provides staff with all the resources they need for their training. These include key development areas, clear and measurable goals and objectives, learning and evaluation methods, and so forth.

Learning and development are necessary to create a loyal and engaged workforce and to allow employees to grow with the organisation. With the right learning and development strategy, your organisation will retain talent, increase productivity and invest in its future. Learning and development is a great investment in people and the future of your organisation.

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