4 Reasons Low Learner Engagement Is a Ticking Time Bomb for L&D Programs

• 5 min read

The Shocking Impact of Low Learner Engagement on L&D Programs

High learner engagement might just be the holy grail of learning and development (L&D), but, just like that coveted chalice, it often seems almost unattainable.

It’s a problem L&D sees time and time again. Learning programs don’t connect with learner needs or fail to engage learners, but what’s most concerning is what happens because of this lacking engagement.

Low Learner Engagement – The Ticking Time Bomb

To put it simply, low learner engagement could result in learners not completing courses and silos of information. This ultimately leads to drops in productivity, low company morale and, eventually, loss of top talent.

Left unchecked, low learner engagement becomes a ticking time bomb where the longer you let the fuse burn, the closer you get to coming face to face with a true organizational disaster.

“Employee retention and engagement are now the #1 problems companies face…”
Josh Bersin, Bersin By Deloitte

You might be experiencing an immense period of growth and your existing learning system can’t keep up with the pace of your people development efforts, so your learning experience is sub-par. This is a common pain for organizations seeing a lack of engagement and buy-in from learners and this can be the catalyst for 4 bigger problems.

1. Plummeting e-learning course completion rates

If your learners become less engaged with your learning programs, that means they are becoming less engaged with the learning platform itself, leading to incompletions, and maybe even a failure to build on their learning beyond mandatory e-learning courses.

One-third of employees don’t think the training materials they’re provided are interesting or engaging.

If your training materials aren’t engaging to begin with, you can all but guarantee this will negatively impact an employee’s initial and ongoing experiences with your company and their knowledge retention going forward.

How can you expect them to keep building and retaining important information when the method for doing this isn’t tailored to how people learn today?

While you might have a learning system in place, it’s also important to note that traditional learning resources won’t always translate into engaging digital learning content.

Course authoring tools that integrate with your learning platform allow L&D admins to inject their course content into a variety of content formats to elevate the user experience and their engagement with learning materials.

2. Information is all over the place

Knowledge sharing sounds like a concept which “just happens” within organizations, but that’s not always the case.

You might think your high performers or managers help other workers by passing on information to achieve their tasks, or that formal training courses are teaching the right skills. The reality is, though, knowledge isn’t always so readily shared, or available, and the rise of smart tools and searchable company databases has only added more complexity.

With different platforms, channels, devices, and teams all now holding valuable information, employees at big companies spend, on average, 38 minutes searching for a document.

The right information can be buried in various places or even just the heads of a few subject matter experts.

Low engagement with your learning programs hinders the flow of ideas and organizational collaboration. This is especially true when learning platforms become a central destination for company knowledge, facilitating discussions and question and answer threads in one place.

3. Learners become disengaged and unhappy

Unsurprisingly, opportunities for growth and development are constantly cited as one of the top expectations of today’s workforce. In fact, 93% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their careers, because this shows a commitment from companies to develop their people.

If your learning and development efforts aren’t engaging because of the experience or content, company morale will take a hit.

According to research from Gallup, disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity and 15% lower profitability.

LinkedIn crunched the numbers when it came to disengaged employees and found that their reduced performance can cost of 34% of their annual salary, or $3,400 for every $10,000 they make. Someone on $60,000 could end up costing you $20,400 per year.

4. Lack of relevant learning and development is cited as a reason top talent leaves

As mentioned above, learning and development opportunities can be a major drawcard in attracting the best talent. But on the flip side, when those opportunities are lacking or non-existent, it spurs people to start looking elsewhere.

In a recent webinar with Brandon Hall Group, a lack of development opportunities was voted the number one reason employees left their jobs, above a bad manager, poor work/life balance and their pay/benefits package.

Your First Steps to Defusing this Ticking Time Bomb

Engagement isn’t just keeping learners busy. It’s about connecting with them and then keeping them motivated by:

– Giving them the tools they need to learn.
– Fostering a sense of pride in achieving personal goals.
– Encouraging learning for the love of it.

Engagement requires an emotional connection between content and the learner. The only way to do that is by knowing what drives people to spend time, effort, and energy learning. Show them you care by involving them in your process to turn things around.

Want to get to the bottom of your low engagement issue? Start asking these questions:

– How recently have your learners logged into the learning platform?
– Are they aware of new content or learning experiences when they become available?

– How often do they log in?
– Is this frequency consistent?

– How long are they staying on the platform?
– If they aren’t staying long, what are they looking at?
– If they are staying on for longer periods, why is that?

– Are people talking about your learning platform within the company?
– What are they saying? Is it good or is it bad?

– What do learners think of not only your learning platform, but also the content within it?
– Are they giving you feedback about what could be improved?

By asking these questions and delving into the data you have about learner activity, you will have a clearer understanding of what is working and what isn’t.

You can then apply these insights to build out learning strategies which are both engaging and get learners motivated to interact continuously. Here are a few starting points:

Turning the Ticking Time Bomb into Learning Dynamite

  • Make Learning Bite-Sized

Microlearning is all about content delivered in small, short bursts, such as videos or quick, easy-to-digest animations.

One of our customers, Cineplex, supports more than 13,000 learners across Canada with The Cineplex Academy. The average age of a Cineplex Academy learner is 24. Knowing this demographic and the working environment, Cineplex provides information that is bite-sized and easily digested and delivers mobile learning as part of its learning delivery strategy.

  • Keep Things Fun

Gamification includes some of the most common extrinsic motivators, such as the use of competition, badges management, point systems etc.

Employees who may lack drive or are easily distracted typically need an extra nudge, and gamification gives them an incentive to actively participate.

  • Create a Community Around Learning

A community only exists when the members of that community interact with each other. The same should go for your learning activities.

A modern learning platform should enable L&D admins to measure learner progress or determine if learning content is helping solve job-related challenges encountered every day. By aligning it with the situations your learners face and providing the answers they need at their time of need, you create a demand for continuous learning and more effective learning outcomes.

Don’t let low learner engagement become a ticking time bomb in your organization. Create learning dynamite and see your results skyrocket!

Check out how Cineplex is approaching learning by presenting employees with clear opportunities that keep them engaged as their careers progress.