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Customer Spotlight: How to Keep Learners Engaged in a New L&D Program

Learning and development (L&D) is no longer a nice-to-have, it’s a must-have for successful organizations. Effective L&D helps employees upskill, reskill, and succeed in current and future roles. Therefore, employers must create a learning culture to attract and retain talent and develop an engaged workforce that hits business goals. 

But creating effective learning resources is just the first step. The challenge lies in delivering these materials, encouraging participation, and generating excitement to keep learners engaged. 

In this month’s customer spotlight, Andrea Burow, Learning & Development Partner at Knowledge Services, shares strategies her team uses to keep team members engaged in their internal L&D program. 

#1 Start with a small first step: develop an onboarding path for new hires

An effective onboarding program helps new hires acclimate to their roles and feel like valued members of the team. Employees with an exceptional onboarding experience are 2.6x more likely to be extremely satisfied with their workplace–and more likely to stay with the company. 

In order to get new employees off on the right foot, Knowledge Services staggers onboarding content over the course of 30 days. 

Onboarding consists of:

  • A welcome message from the CEO
  • An overview of core values
  • Workplace policies and procedures 
  • Security and compliance training
  • Information on benefits, programs, and philanthropic initiatives

“Onboarding starts with a welcome from our CEO, and then as team members learn essential information, we weave in our identity, culture, and values,” Andrea says. “Policies, procedures, security, and compliance are important and necessary to onboarding, but we can spread it out to give them time to digest the content.

The good news is we can focus on making a personal connection on their first day and it is not a dump of information. People can only retain so much, and thanks to WorkRamp automation, we are able to stagger the delivery of information.” 

Spacing out onboarding materials keeps new hires from feeling overwhelmed and helps to boost retention. This is a more manageable approach to training and can help to increase learner engagement.

Read more: 6 Best Practices for New Hire Training and Onboarding

#2 Launch the program company-wide

Once new hires have been onboarded, it’s essential to continue providing learning opportunities to set employees up for success.

Knowledge Services achieves this through its internal L&D program, Knowledge Services University (KSU), which Andrea and her team deploy through WorkRamp. Part of successfully launching this new company-wide learning initiative was ensuring employees were invested in the program, so the team surveyed employees on what they wanted to learn and develop professionally.

“Before we launched [KSU], we surveyed team members, ‘what do you want in professional and personal development? ‘” Andrea says. “Taking it a step further, if a team member indicated they were interested in Excel, they might be part of the team evaluating Excel courses by different publishers. We wanted them to be part of the process and take ownership of the content we were putting in KSU.”

Taking survey input into account, the team internally authored their own courses and imported 46 third-party courses via WorkRamp’s partnership with OpenSesame to launch KSU and expand learning at Knowledge Services beyond onboarding.

When launching your own L&D program, soliciting learners for input and delivering on their feedback gives them program buy-in because they’ve taken a small part in the content creation and curation process. It also helps learners feel heard and reinforces that your program will meet their learning needs.   

#3 Get team members engaged

With employees bought into your program, driving engagement is an important next step to showing immediate value. While some learning content is mandatory, enabling team members to self-select some parts of training can help them feel more autonomy and stay engaged with the content.

“We assigned one course, a TED Talk,” Andrea says. “Then, we asked team members to go into libraries, find a course that interests them and assign it to themselves.”

Letting employees pick their own courses helped to increase engagement and drive assignment completion since team members could choose courses of interest. 

While you want your employees to be intrinsically motivated to complete training and continue learning and developing, providing incentives can also help to build excitement and reinforce continuous learning

“Once they completed an assignment, they earned a badge and got swag,” Andrea shares. “So it was an incentive to complete it and go through the entire process.” 

Knowledge Services also used this strategy after launching KSU. “On launch day, we did ‘Get the Scoop on KSU’ and passed out ice cream,” Andrea says. “The goal was just to generate some excitement.” 

The benefits of employee recognition extend beyond L&D. Recognition helps team members feel valued within the organization. A HubSpot study showed a 56 percent increase in job performance when employees felt a sense of belonging. 

Read more: 7 Things Employees Want From Employers

#4 Continue to build post-launch buzz

Once you’ve rolled out your internal L&D program, you must keep the momentum for consistent adoption. Knowledge Services has found several successful tactics to encourage ongoing participation.

Some of these strategies include:

  • An internal newsletter. Knowledge Services has a weekly newsletter that includes something about KSU, like a breakdown of the learning process, course stats (most viewed courses, favorites, etc.), and new course announcements and library resources
  • Program stats. Outside of the newsletter, the L&D team shares weekly statistics on things like top learners or the top five courses people are using
  • Monthly company celebrations. The team celebrates the top five courses that people are picking
  • Friendly competitions between departments. Since employees could see which teams were taking the most classes, managers could use competitions to encourage participation 

In just one month of leveraging these tactics post-launch, the team has seen an average enrollment of five courses per employee, and over 2,000 Guides in WorkRamp started company-wide.  

Read more: How Knowledge Services uses WorkRamp to launch engaging, scalable L&D programs

#5 Promote ongoing learning

L&D isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. To help team members develop and keep them engaged, you must continue adding, developing, and evolving learning content. This means consistently promoting your program and adding new content to challenge learners and support their career path and professional development

Knowledge Services leverages in-person and digital channels to continue cultivating its learning culture. Through a face-to-face approach, the team offers hour-long KSU “office hours” three times a week in which managers and learners can meet with the L&D team to get help finding relevant resources or learn about new course offerings. 

“People may not always reach out over email but if they see you, they might be prompted to come by and say ‘I’m looking for a course on this,’” Andrea shares. “Sometimes it’s easier to just say it in person than it would be to send out an email or a chat on [Microsoft] Teams.”

The team sees an average of 4 to 5 attendees per office hour session.

Beyond in-person channels, the team continues to keep learners engaged through digital campaigns.

Curated playlists

To make the learning experience engaging and personal, Knowledge Services has rolled out curated picks for learners in KSU. This is similar to Netflix or Spotify Wrapped, in which users receive a list of recommended content personalized based on a demographic, like remote employees, or on specific topics that a manager or team wants to focus on. 

Not only will these playlists be delivered via email with direct course links for learners to click through, but they will also be available as a curated collection of resources in KSU’s WorkRamp Library so learners can search for them and reference them anytime.  

Now showing

Knowledge Services ‘Now Showing’ campaign is designed to debut KSU’s new courses on a regular cadence and spotlight the company’s top learners and top learning topics at monthly team and company meetings.

Not only does this help keep the L&D team accountable for regularly releasing new content, but this also helps motivate departments to continue participating in the program when they see learning being celebrated company-wide.

Providing effective resources for employees to learn and develop is vital, but to promote ongoing learning, you must keep team members engaged. Try these ideas to generate excitement for your learning and development program! 

‘The Know It Alls’ Podcast

Most recently, the team kicked off 2023 launching a monthly Knowledge Services’ podcast, ‘The Know It Alls,’ to provide a fun way to highlight the L&D team’s initiatives and engage team members in the process. 

For each episode, the team brings in a guest co-host from another department to discuss their favorite courses or share in more detail how they have been using KSU to enhance their role. So far, they’ve done two episodes in partnership with the Talent Services and MSP Program Delivery teams. 

This serves as yet another channel for socializing all the learning and development courses and resources KSU has to offer. Each episode gets published in a WorkRamp Guide with show notes providing direct links to content in WorkRamp that is mentioned during the show so listeners can dive into anything that has piqued their interest. 

Running L&D successfully means finding creative ways to make everyone feel included and make learning feel accessible for all. Through KSU, Andrea and her team have excelled at meeting learners where they are, not only with diverse content offerings but also through various engagement strategies that transcend office walls.

Want to learn how WorkRamp can help you deliver exciting and engaging learning and development programs too? Contact us for a free, personalized demo.


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Maile Timon

Content Strategist, WorkRamp

Maile Timon is WorkRamp’s Content Strategist. She has over 10 years of experience in content marketing and SEO and has written for several publications and industries, including B2B, marketing, lifestyle, health, and more. When she’s not writing or developing content strategies, she enjoys hiking and spending time with her family.

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