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Motivate Employees to Participate in Training: 8 Ideas

Let’s face it; the word “training” rarely inspires much joy in an office. People commonly associate training with school, and few people really want to go back there or take time out of their job to do it. But, the fact remains, that training is still pretty much the best way to make workers better at their current job and possibly even to move them up to a higher position.

You might think “shouldn’t telling employees to take a course be enough of a reason for them to do it?” Making training mandatory will up attendance, but it is motivation that actually allows learning to happen. Motivation is what turns an interest in a subject and a desire to get ahead into actual action. 

Consider how many times you have said you want to do something like write a novel or learn a new language but have you done those things? If you have those goals but haven’t accomplished them, then you have experienced the frustration that comes with having the desire but not motivation. Your employees also need this push of inner strength that motivation brings in order to actually seek out and absorb the information available.

But how do you motivate learners to participate in training? Read on to get an insight into getting your employees to take action towards development.

Identifying what is keeping your workers from being motivated to take your eLearning courses is the first step to breaking down the barriers to this question.

Here are the most common obstacles to motivation:

  • Time: If an employee has piles of work already stacked on their desk, those things that are already there will take precedence over training. While developing their skills with training will benefit them more in the long run, it is hard to ignore what is urgent and right in front of you. There are immediate benefits to some training, and you should promote these in your courses. We’ll go into this later.
  • Irrelevant Information: If people don’t know what resources will be available or just how the training will benefit them, they won’t be very excited about it. 

Once you have a handle on what is stopping them from learning, you can move on to employing these to increase motivation. 

Motivate your employees by offering:

1) Career Advancement

One of the reasons employees get frustrated with their company or job is that there is no room for advancement or any effort to develop their skills. On the contrary, employees feel more motivated to take a course if this means that progress; a chance for promotion or some form of self-improvement awaits them. This gives them a goal to work towards.

Training is also a way to show employees that you care about them and their goals. Few things are more motivating than working for a company you know works for you in return.

Surveying your employees will help you reveal exactly what kind of training they would be most interested in or what position they want to move up to.

HR and management should work together to create a career development opportunity plan that offers both informal and formal education in order to fit with employee goals. Navigating this with learning management systems will allow a company to create programs that will get employees on track to attain their objectives and desires.

Additional reads:

2) The Right Info in the Right Place   

When creating a training program, you need to think about what you will present and when but also HOW you will present it. It won’t matter how relevant the training is if it is presented in the wrong format and delivered in the wrong place. If you know your employees are constantly on their computers create an eLearning course, don’t hand out a book or enforce them to take a face-to-face course. 

Similarly, if you know your employees use their phones constantly or are out of the office most of the time, it doesn’t make sense to have a course that is exclusively formatted to work on a regular PC. Make it available for any device.

Employing multiple ways for employees to access their learning is a way to increase motivation. Ask your employees what they want to learn and what methods help them learn best. Do they want to be quizzed on the subject? Given examples? Or learn through video?

Recommended read: The Basics of Motivational eLearning Design


3) Take Their Opinion

Not only will asking your employees how and what they want to learn to enhance the training, but it will also make them feel as if their opinions matter. They will then be more likely to take the training seriously because they are valued and feel an effort has been made to present the information they were already interested in.  

Take the opinion of people from different levels and departments of the company to create the best training program possible. Once the program is in place, follow-up with people who have engaged in the training to get feedback and continue to improve the program. 

4) Rewards

While long-term goals and potential payoffs are good motivators, sometimes you need something a bit more immediate. This can be a cash prize for getting the highest score on a training test or completing it by a particular date. However, it doesn’t need to be cash. A gift card, a certificate of recognition to add to a resume, or an achievement badge would also work. 

At the same time, you should promote how the course can positively impact future career goals because some people will not be motivated by the small rewards and will need the big picture to stay focused.

Read: The Role of a Reward in Employee Motivation


5) Usefulness and Urgency

Your employees may be at several different levels of their careers, and the chance for future development may not be overly enticing to some. Instead, promote the fact that this training will make their work easier NOW. Consider how much faster a cashier’s job would be if they were trained on doing returns versus having to call over a manager each time or if a salesperson were able to file their own paperwork for a new client. These are improvements that employees can use immediately which will satisfy the need for immediate reward.

You can further strengthen the argument for why this is beneficial to them by showing them testimonials from other employees. Often, an employee may not even think they need help with their current job until they receive it. For example, a customer support tech might not realize how much easier their job will be with proper training until they hear someone talk about how it has helped them. 

What Do Modern Learners Actually Want From Your eLearning Courses?

6) Flexibility

In the past training was typically conducted by inviting employees to a session where information was presented, and they listened before returning to work. This was done on the company’s schedule, and anyone who wanted to attend or had to attend was required to do so at that one specified time.

This wasn’t ideal then, and it’s even less palatable to today’s workforce, which expects information to be available when they need it. This is considered a “pull” model of training versus a “push” model, which is what was used in the past. In a pull model, information is as readily available as if employees were doing an Internet search. They expect to be able to pull that info anytime and anywhere.

The “pull learning” model allows people to increase their expertise and skills continuously at their own speed, which removes the excuse of not having the time or not being able to physically attend a training session.

Read more: The Anatomy of a Modern eLearning Course

7) Choice and Accountability

Encourage employees to take command of their own learning to further strengthen the idea that “this is my choice, and the result benefits me.” This is a far different and far more effective mindset than traditional training, which always seemed like another chore to check off a list as opposed to a step up to a greater goal.

A personal choice itself is a motivator as well and can be provided by allowing employees to decide when training is completed, how much training is done in one sitting, the order course are taken in, and where the training takes place.

Also read: Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Self-Directed Learning at the Workplace

8) Expectation

The value of training comes when improvement is achieved, and employers, employees, and course designers should all gear the process towards an expectation of improvement. You can even include a section at the beginning of your course asking employees to set goals for their training. Then, at the end of the course, you can include a section asking if those goals were met, with the option to review material if the goals aren’t met.

As you can see, a big part of motivation is giving learners goals and rewards. eLearning courses should be designed with immediate and future benefits in mind because this is what will make them relevant and get employees excited about taking them. 



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The Basics of Motivational eLearning Design

When we think of the word, motivation, instantly two things come to mind. First, when we are young, many outside things motivate us, a desire to do something, the reality of punishment from our parents, positive and negative reinforcement of what we are doing, etc. All of these things help to motivate children, and in some cases, it has a positive effect, and in other cases, it does not. The more proactive the motivation, the more positive the response to that motivation, the more reactionary the motivation, the more negative the response. The second picture that comes to mind is a learned reaction to something. Like Pavlov and his dogs, which would salivate when he rang the bell, motivation can be at times subconscious. However, there are much more things that drive the motivation of human beings, and in the arena of learning, there are some critical pieces to the puzzle that have to be developed so that learners feel the value of what they are learning and how it will benefit them. The rewards of their success must be considered from a variety of sources and satisfy them on a variety of levels, and as instructional designers of e-learning programs, we must not only understand these factors but be skilled in utilizing them in the courses that we design.