World of Learning 2018: Four engagement hacks for L&D teams

Melanie Lepine, group head of learning, development and talent at Domestic and General told delegates at the World of Learning Conference that they must become “change-makers” in their organisation. So how can L&D teams bring about the sort of change where the business sits up and takes note? Martin Couzins reports.

Take a curated approach to learning design

“Curation provides you with an opportunity to experiment, to invent and reinvent what you do,” says Rafal Szaniawski, former chief learning officer at Deloitte Switzerland. He told delegates that L&D professionals have to become content curators.

L&D has a tendency to create new content when it needs new content, rather than checking if there is already some relevant, meaningful content out there that could be used. The ability to curate content will become increasingly necessary for L&D teams who have to scale up learning with fewer resources.

So what does curated learning design look like? Mike Shaw, head of L&D at the Mitie Group, demonstrated how he had curated internal and external resources as a part of a training programme. A key part of this was contextualising the information. Shaw did this by creating a short video that introduced the topic and then sharing a handful of resources in a variety of media – from video to articles.

To help employees put this information into the context of their work, Shaw included related tasks and invited participants to provide feedback. This enabled a more collaborative and social approach. Although the process sounds simple enough, it is one that may be less familiar to the business world. “You have to sell the concept of a curated approach as people don’t usually get it,” says Shaw.

Map your people experience to customer experience

Fashion retailer River Island has shifted its focus from L&D to people experience. “The experience we give our customers and the experience we give our employees are intrinsically linked,” says Nebel Crowhurst, head of people experience at River Island.

The organisation has eight key customer touchpoints related to how customers experience the brand in store and online. By identifying these, the company can see what works and what doesn’t and how they need to improve the customer experience.

To deliver a people experience (PX) that more closely reflects the customer experience, River Island created four PX pillars: happiness and wellbeing of people, the smart use of data and technology, decisions based on data and evidence and a focus on the impact of future working practices on the business.

“We want to be commercial and deliver value. At the same time we recognise work is changing so we are progressive in our approach,” says Mike Collins, senior digital learning partner at the organisation. He says the challenge is to ensure that every piece of learning created is deeply engaging and innovative and stays up to date with the brand, which is constantly changing. This means building learning solutions that are easy to use and intuitive.

The learning team at River Island search out tools that are similar to ones being used outside of work, such as Google, Facebook and Instagram. For new starters, River Island sends out a pack that includes a virtual reality headset through which the new employee can view immersive, 360-degree videos of the stores and colleagues talking them through how the business works.

Where it does use existing technology, the company looks to improve the user experience. “You can’t necessarily change your learning management system but you can find areas of it that you can customise in order to make it easier for people to access resources. Enabling single sign on to the system is one example,” says Collins. The key to creating digital content is to ensure it is mobile friendly and responsive so employees can access it when they need to.

And when it comes to new technologies, Collins’ advice is to “Always question the value and what identify what changes you expect to see from it.”

Create a brand for L&D

“Creating a strong brand for L&D is key to building engagement”, says Di Macdonald, former head of L&D at Expedia and L’Oreal. At online travel agency Expedia, Macdonald developed a brand for the L&D team. Called GLO (the global learning organisation), it was created with the help of an external marketing agency. Its distinctive logo and brand colours helped draw employees in.

“You are competing for employees’ attention so create an identity that will stand out,” says Macdonald. When building a brand for L&D, make sure you tie it together across all channels, including digital and face to face “We are still doing handouts, invitations and joining instructions. The brand helps you stand out,” she says.

And think about the brand’s colour. The trick is to create an internal identity that helps you stand out so you’re not competing with the corporate brand. So make sure you use a different colour to your company’s brand colours. Macdonald’s advice is to draft in outside help.

“I hired an agency to create the brand, logo, slide templates. For £5,000 it was a super-cheap investment to get the brand created. You need to think like an agency. Would people pay for this and rehire again after using you?”

Create content based on need

“It’s all very well having a lovely, sexy brand, but you also need lovely, sexy content,” says Macdonald, who confesses that she has spent a lot of money on e-learning solutions that haven’t worked. “You need to find ways to create content really quickly. People don’t mind watching video shot on an iPhone – they are used to consuming content on Instagram. It does not need to be really highly polished content.”

Macdonald gave an example of how she repurposed content as a part of the onboarding process at L’Oreal. She had noticed that new starters would print off PDFs that they had been given as a part of the onboarding process and carry those around with them, taking them to meetings and using them to make notes. So she decided to make a magazine as a part of their day-one experience.

To keep the content fresh she did a small print run every six months. “Once you have the design it is not expensive to create the magazine – around £6 per copy,” she says. L’Oreal also created a manager edition for the managers of the new starters. The magazines would guide new employees and their managers through their first six weeks.

However L&D teams choose to engage employees around learning, the key is to remain in tune with what the business needs. As the CIPD’s head of L&D content, Andy Lancaster, told delegates: “We’ve got to get outside of the L&D ghetto and get into the wider conversations in the business.”

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