How to Train Reluctant Employees

Posted by

Vivek Dodd

on 12 Nov 2020

How to Train to Reluctant Employees

Imagine if you were approached by your manager and asked whether you’d like to participate in a training course. What would your first reaction be?

Would you welcome the training with open arms, hoping to improve your skills? Or would you see it as an extra strain on your already limited time? When it comes to Compliance training the reactions are generally negative.

Motivating employees to undertake training can sometimes be a challenge.

How employees perceive training is related to their backgrounds. A research study published by Education First revealed striking differences in attitudes between different countries.

Around 62 per cent of people from emerging countries, like China and Brazil, said that they would be “very willing” to undertake a training course, compared to just 38 per cent of people in developed countries, like Sweden and the UK, who seem more reluctant to engage.

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The reasons are not entirely clear, but it shows that motivating employees in many wealthier countries can be difficult. For a digital training course to be successful, it has to be able to break through this barrier and get people fired up.

So how do you go about selling digital training to reluctant employees? Let’s find out.

1. Put your learners in control

One reason the desire to enrol in training is lower in advanced countries might have to do with the strain on people’s time. Whereas in emerging economies, there is an imperative to train to earn more money to live, in developed countries, many workers want more leisure time and flexibility.

Having a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy enables employees to attend your course whenever they want, fitting it around their busy schedules. They can access your material from their own devices, whether from a laptop, a desktop computer or a smartphone. BYOD has taken off in the business world is because it helps employees to feel more comfortable while offering greater flexibility. Offering BYOD, therefore, increases the likelihood that learners will want to enrol on a course.

2.  Link courses to career development

Research has shown that when people have a good reason to learn something, learning is accelerated. A switch flicks in their brain, and they approach the subject matter with fresh eyes, knowing that everything they are learning is useful and will benefit them in the long term. The problem is that the link between training, especially on compliance topics, and career development isn’t always obvious.

Course designers and instructors can sell courses to employees by making this connection explicit, noting all the ways in which the course could help their career development in the future. Global studies have shown that for more than two-thirds of all employee's opportunities for professional development are limited to their own organisation. Creating a culture of learning is, therefore, essential, if you want your training to have a real impact on your employees. Make the connection between skills and career progression - highlight how employees can use the course as a springboard to improve their roles.

3. Get creative and engage with interactivity

The worst type of learning is “passive learning” - the kind of learning that takes place in schools and universities. It doesn’t engage the learner directly or get them to practice their skills. The problem for course designers is that this is exactly the type of learning your employees expect when they hear the news about an upcoming course. They assume that it will be as dull and boring as the education they have received in the past.

Your task, therefore, is to sell them on the idea that your course will be different. Rather than using passive techniques, your course will make use of a much more exciting form of learning - active learning.

Active learning is different to passive learning in the sense that participants have the opportunity to test out their new skills in meaningful ways, checking their understanding in the process. In the digital context, active learning can include all sorts of things, from graphic narratives, branching scenarios, podcasts and videos. If your course is particularly sophisticated, you can also make use of games that have been shown by many studies to improve the rate of learning and employee engagement. Advertising the active learning methods will improve employee expectations of the course, motivating them to undertake e-learning.

4. Tell learners what’s in it for them

It can be hard to motivate oneself to do something when there’s no reward at the end of the process. This is why it’s so important to tell employees what’s in it for them if they decide to take a training course.

Motivation requires real-world benefits that relate to employee’s daily roles. If the training focuses on productivity, point out how it will help your staff get the boring jobs out of the way quickly so that they can get on with more interesting, more creative tasks. Likewise, if the training is focused on learning about the operation of the company, emphasise how it increases the likelihood of being selected for a management position.

You can also use scenarios and case studies to sell a course. For example, you could talk about how particular employees were able to avoid/prevent misconduct as a result of having undertaken a course.

5. Provide opportunities to reflect on key learnings

Harness the power of the “feel-good factor” - the rush of positive endorphins people get after they achieve something. Testing and assessments might not seem like motivating factors, but they are useful tools for participants to figure out how much they have learnt and how far they’ve progressed. Getting it right in the scenarios with a course makes people feel good about themselves, encouraging them to engage more with the training.

Give people the chance to reflect on the course. This is important, not only for consolidating learning but also for helping people see what they have gotten out of the course. You can give participants an opportunity to reflect on learning by providing learning checks and self-reflection activities.Click me

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