Employee Engagement Training
Before the pandemic, but even more so since, lack of employee engagement has been troubling companies large and small across industries, and across the world. Employee engagement training courses have popped up online, with all manner of experts suddenly claiming to have the key to solving the issue. But this is a human-centric problem that will not be solved with one or two training courses.
Yet, the problem is real and something must be done. According to Gallup, just 33 percent of American workers are engaged in their jobs. Fifty-two percent say they’re “just showing up,” and 17 percent say they are “actively disengaged”.
The price of disengagement is very high. Disengaged employees undermine their workplace in the following ways:
- Their manner and attitude leave customers with a bad impression of the company.
- They often don’t get along with managers and co-workers and their attitude can affect morale negatively.
- They show no initiative and never go the extra mile.
- They are poor team players.
- They show no enthusiasm and lack interest in the organization.
- They tend to be unhappy at work, talk about it, and undermine the commitment of other workers.
- They don’t do a good job because they don’t care.
- They are not self-motivated and need to be pushed constantly.
In the worst cases, unhappy employees not only discourage fellow workers, but alienate existing customers and drive away new business.
What causes employee disengagement?
Aside from a lack of trust in company leadership, managers are often the problem. Research shows that people don’t quit their job, they quit their boss – 75 percent of people that quit, leave because of a bad manager. Managers have the most interaction with individual employees, and, as such, have a significant impact on their engagement and job satisfaction.
Benefits of highly engaged employees
According to Gallup, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by a staggering 147 percent. In addition, 79 percent of employees who work at companies that deliver above-average customer experience are highly engaged in their jobs, compared to the 49 percent of employees who work at companies with either an average or below-average customer experience.
People thrive when they work in an environment where they feel valued. Good employees are self-motivated and will leverage any opportunity to develop and enhance their career.
Good companies create opportunities for motivated employees to flourish and increase their value to the company. One way to keep people engaged and motivated is through solid training and development programs.
Employee engagement training that succeeds
Here are some strategies for employee engagement training that will help make a company more successful:
- Create an incentive for employees to participate
One way to get employees to appreciate the value of training is to not offer it to everyone. Ask interested employees to apply for the company’s professional development program. Make it clear that space is limited, which means not everyone who applies will be accepted.
Also, let all employees understand that completing the training program is a step toward advancement in the company at a later stage. One company that did this found that employees take the training opportunity seriously.
If an employee can see how the training can benefit their professional development, they are more likely to be invested in the training. However, if you make a promise, make sure you can keep it.
- Give a compelling reason for offering the training
Make it clear to employees that they are given the training opportunity because they are regarded as valued employees, not because they will be of more value to the company after the training. When employees feel that they are already valued, that their manager sees potential in them, they gain confidence and trust that there is a valid reason for the training and that they won’t be wasting their time.
- Demonstrate clear interest in employee development
Employers need to do more than initiate one training course after the other – they need to show genuine interest in the professional development of their employees. Showing a genuine interest in the career development of employees promotes employee engagement.
Illustrate this interest and commitment not only through actual training, but prior to training through company-wide communications, surveys, skills, and knowledge appraisals, as well as learning preference assessments. These actions send the message that training is important to leadership and are part of the company culture.
- Make the training relevant to the role of the employee
Nobody likes to waste time on training that has nothing to do with their role in the company and if that happens a few times, you can be sure that engagement in training will be nil. To ensure high engagement rates, training must be related to the role of an employee.
The best way to achieve this is to conduct a skills gap analysis. Training can be developed based on the results of the analysis. A skills gap analysis can identify what competencies need to be learned. The training can be developed to ensure that employees have the skills needed to achieve company goals.
- Address fear of failure
There are many reasons why employees may be apprehensive about training to acquire new skills. For instance, they may fear that they won’t be able to master the new skills, that they will be required to immediately demonstrate their new skills faultlessly, or that they will immediately have more responsibilities, which they can’t plan for. The whole setup can be intimidating, with people fearing that they may not fare as well as others or make a fool of themselves. For some individuals, learning new skills in front of their colleagues may be a very threatening experience.
To counteract these debilitating, but understandable fears, employees need to be helped to understand that acquiring new skills may involve difficulties, but it’s nothing worse than what they have overcome earlier in life. We are where we are because we’ve already moved on from previous failures.
- Provide high-quality learning materials
Employees need high-quality learning materials to develop their skills. Materials should be visually attractive where applicable, engaging, and informative. Include different formats to allow for different learning styles as different people assimilate new information differently.
It is advised to always include captions with video material as only 66 percent of videos without captions are watched until the end, compared to 91 percent of videos with captions.
Just the action of adding captions will include a greater percentage of you worker corps. Captions help some people to retain information better, while videos without captions are only partially accessible to the deaf and hard of hearing.
- Make use of e-learning courses
Apart from in-house company-focused training materials, e-learning courses can offer companies a wide range of trainings that are applicable to all businesses.
One of the benefits of e-learning is the flexibility it offers. Unlike in-person trainings, which affects employees’ time to do their work, e-learning is easily accessible and doesn’t need to disrupt employees’ work. Many e-learning courses are developed with the challenges of the business world and how to resolve them embedded in the learning material. This makes the information relevant and applicable. The largest benchmarking study on learning technologies in the UK reveals that 77 percent of companies believe that learning technologies will help them respond more quickly to changing business conditions.
- Integrate continual training into the company culture
When continual training is part of the company culture, it’s something that’s expected – not newly introduced every couple of months. The message should be that the whole company benefits from training, that it’s a priority, not an exception or special event.
Training can be sold as a tool to help everybody do better, solve problems, and come up with innovative solutions. And it must be made known that all employees at all levels will engage in training to prepare themselves for the challenges ahead.
To firmly establish learning as an important aspect of company culture, introduce well-prepared onboarding material that introduces new hires to the learning culture in the organization. In this way, learning will gradually become entrenched throughout the organization.
- Reward engaged employees
Remember there are those employees who are engaged and who do go the extra mile. Don’t forget about them. Find a way to reward their engagement and enthusiasm. This could take the form of certification, access to additional education programs, or perks like discount tokens for a store, gym, restaurant, or spa treatment, a day off, or anything you know your employees would appreciate.
Employees stay engaged when they are rewarded for their work and their attitude. It makes them feel they and their work are valuable to the company. You could also consider giving employees a way to show their appreciation to their colleagues. Being recognized by one’s peers is a great confidence and commitment booster.
- Focus on training managers
In terms of increasing employee engagement, it’s imperative to focus on the managers in charge of your employees. They are the ones that interact with your employees on a daily basis – they know each person’s career aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, and how their development can benefit the company.
The fact is, managers and their behavior are key to the culture that can significantly impact an employee’s experience with the company, for better or worse.
While managers are key to employee engagement, few of them are naturally talented leaders of people. As mentioned earlier, most people leave their manager, not their job.
A study by SHRM revealed that 57 percent of employees agree that their managers need additional leadership training to manage people. Research confirms that most first-time managers don’t receive proper training to develop a leadership skillset. Shockingly, most leadership training only takes place long after the person has started in the position and their management habits, often very poor ones, have become entrenched.
To be effective managers and be able to encourage engagement among those they are responsible for, managers need training in:
- Coaching and performance appraisal
- Nurturing relationships
- Developing others
- Managing change
- Show them what an engaged employee looks like
Only engaged managers can excite others and inspire them to do their best. One of the best ways to foster genuine employee engagement is to be an engaged manager. Managers set the example for those that work with them. They need to exude a positive can-do attitude and a genuine appreciation for the company and faith in its goals.
Their enthusiasm should extend to those who work with them, showing an interest in them as people and in their professional development. In addition, managers should set the example when it comes to training and development. It needs to be seen that they attend training opportunities to develop their leadership skills. The willingness to learn is an indication of engagement.
- Show appreciation
There is nothing so discouraging as being enthusiastic and going the extra mile for it only to go unnoticed. While mature adults don’t require constant accolades in order to do their best, it is a nice experience when your efforts are noticed, and it does encourage similar behavior in the future.
In this regard, showing appreciation in person often goes much further than a general statement as part of other public announcements. Such statements easily get drowned out by the general goings-on, losing their impact and meaning completely. The sad thing is that many employees don’t even receive this basic show of appreciation. Make an effort to personally acknowledge each team member’s special contributions in a personalized manner.
Engaged employees are clearly a benefit to their employers. They distinguish themselves by willingly doing more than is expected from them, showing enthusiasm for their work, their colleagues, and their company. These are the people who can take the business forward because they believe in it, what it has to offer, and their own role in making that happen. Companies that actively work to increase employee engagement, will benefit from loyal employees that will stay for the long haul. Therefore, make sure to have a solid strategy for employee engagement training so that your employees remain happy and fulfilled.