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L&D Guide Series – 10 Must-Use Strategies to Engage and Train the Overwhelmed Employees

Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The Overwhelmed Employee

Today, the concept of work-life balance is getting lost. With the blurred line of when the work ends and personal time begins, the overwhelmed employee is now visible across all industry verticals.

After the widespread usage of smartphones and the ubiquitous Internet, there appears to be no barriers between work and home anymore. Furthermore, with increasing globalization, employees run from a packed workday at office to home – only to take the last call from home or to clear a few emails from colleagues in another time zone.

Although these overwhelmed employees would love to put in lesser hours than what they usually do, the fact remains that a large percentage of the workforce is putting in close to 50 hours per week.

During the workday, there are distractions of incoming emails, messages, plus scheduled concalls or meetings. As a result, the uninterrupted window of time shrinks further and further. If these dynamics are a part and parcel of the employees’ workday (that often stretches to personal time as well), how can the L&D team get to engage them and ensure that they invest the requisite time on training?

Impact on L&D Initiatives: This is a big challenge for the L&D teams as,

Overwhelmed employees = Low engagement and low motivation to invest time on training.

While the average employees put in their best and commit to make a difference at work, they are distracted and find it difficult to concentrate on aspects that make a difference to their performance as well as career progression (this includes investing time on training and other avenues for growth).

Being “wired” all the time eventually takes a toll on the creativity and it also impacts the productivity and performance. It takes the joy away from the accomplishments. As a result, the overwhelmed employees are unlikely to realize their full potential, even though they are working longer hours.

So, how can this be remedied?

The answer lies in adopting an approach to deliver training that syncs up better with the learners’ workday and lifestyle. In this article, I share a few L&D strategies that would help you train the overwhelmed employees.

Despite the Tough Schedules and Ongoing Distractions, What Would Excite the Learners and Motivate Them to Carve Out and Invest Time on Training?

Overwhelmed employees too want to improve their situation. However, they will invest time on learning if it is aligned to their lifestyle and is available within their workflow. Only then will they be motivated to carve out time for training.

Before you draw up a strategy to engage your overwhelmed employees, do take a look at what the employees want and how they want to learn.

  1. The learners want the training to be as seamless and as easy to access as Google or Amazon or Netflix. Each learning experience should lead them up to the next plus give them recommendations.
    • They want to get the right learning resources quickly, easily, and on-demand.
    • They want access to the learning content and resources on the go, on their devices, and they do not want to log in to the LMS every time they have a need.
    • Additionally, they want meaningful recommendations that keep them connected and encourage them to come back for more.
  2. They understand the value of “continuous learning” and expect the L&D teams to provide this environment in the workplace.
  3. The content should be searchable and must be packaged to address specific needs and trigger the desired action.
  4. They need the learning journeys to match their career progression goals and should move up from “learning pathways” to specific “career pathways.”

How Can L&D Teams Change Their Current Approach to Meet This Expectation?

Given the fact that modern learners’ expectations reflect the “new normal,” the L&D teams need to rise to this challenge. Clearly, they need to move away from the prescriptive “push” based training delivery to “pull” based learning experiences.

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What L&D Strategies Would Help Engage the Overwhelmed Employees?

At EI Design, we work with several customers to offer learning that aligns better to the learners’ expectations. It is short, focused, and personalized and enables employees to consume this either at the moment of need or during breaks.

I am sharing a list of L&D strategies that have helped us achieve this mandate:

L&D Strategy #1

Add Microlearning nuggets that precede the online training that encourage, motivate, and engage the learners. These could include teasers, highlighting the value for each learner, and how will it help them do their tasks better or upskill or help them fix an identified gap.

L&D Strategy #2

Provide a judicious mix of Macrolearning and Microlearning. Additionally, offer flexibility to consume the training on the go and on the device of their choice.

L&D Strategy #3

Leverage learning design formats that resonate well with modern learners. These could include Microlearning, Video Based Learning, Apps for Learning and so on.

L&D Strategy #4

Invest on strategies that engage and create more immersive learning experiences – notably, Gamification, Branching Scenarios, AR/VR and so on.

L&D Strategy #5

Invest on instant or just-in-time learning aids (Performance Support Tools) that are available in the learners’ workflow and easily accessible when they need them.

L&D Strategy #6

Supplement the primary training with Microlearning challenges (assessments) that facilitate learning retention and based on the learners’ scores, nudge them to review the primary training collateral.

L&D Strategy #7

Have practice zones or avenues to facilitate the application of the acquired learning.

L&D Strategy #8

Provide room to practice and offer learning paths that help learners gain higher proficiency.

L&D Strategy #9

Provide flexibility to learners to create personalized learning paths.

L&D Strategy #10

Enrich the learning by providing recommendations (based on the pattern of learning or learners’ interest) and push Self-Directed Learning.

Additionally, here are some tips that will help you sustain this momentum: 

  1. Limit prescribing – Instead, allow higher control to the learners. Essentially, nudge them towards the required path but don’t push!
  2. Make content available on demand and easy to search and locate.
  3. Encourage participation by opting for techniques like Content Curation and Crowd-sourced assets (these could include videos/links to public domain resources).
  4. Recognize employees who align to the mandate and highlight their contribution in public forums.
  5. Leverage Learner Analytics to assess what the learners’ consumption pattern shows and make further tweaks that can meet the mandate more effectively.

I hope this article provides ideas, techniques, and L&D strategies that will help you engage your overwhelmed employees and meet your mandate.
 

Meanwhile, if you have any specific queries, do contact me or leave a comment below.

About the Author

Asha Pandey is the Chief Learning Strategist at EI Design. She brings her rich 17 years’ experience into play to help EI Design customers transform their learning and keep pace with the changing dynamics in the Learning industry.

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