L&D Best Practices

A new recipe for learner engagement (and how to bake it)

Duration 4 minutes Modified on
Learner engagement

Jan Rijken (Learning Director at CrossKnowledge) and Anja Emonds (business learning consultant)

Despite an attractive learning offer, state-of-art learning technology and a corporate learning strategy, we hear that many CLOs are struggling with what really counts: learner engagement!

In today’s fast paced business and L&D – HR environment, change is our only certainty and employees are required to be agile and employable, meaning they should continuously fine-tune and develop their skillset throughout their careers (Molloy & Noe, 2010). Corporates can enable their employees to develop by offering relevant ‘lifelong’ learning & development activities, and studies have shown that both employees and the companies they are working for will benefit (Aguinis & Kraiger, 2009). Effectiveness of these corporate workplace learning programs has been linked directly to the concept of learner motivation and engagement (Noe, Tews, & Dachner; 2010) and that’s where many organizations have a current challenge, as limited learner engagement impacts the competence development and motivation of the individual & organizational performance. This article offers a new learner engagement recipe to boost learner engagement in your corporate learning environment.

Why engage your learners?

Our recent research and articles on the Learning Performance Model and Annual Learning Report have reinforced our belief that corporates want to show and improve the added value of learning investments and drive competitive advantage. Learner engagement can be seen as the “time and energy students devote to educationally purposeful activities” (Kuh, 2001) and studies show that driving learner engagement ticks quite a few boxes in terms of boosting individual performance. Learners who feel responsible for their learning are performing better and are more confident in their workplace (Xanthopoulou, Bakker, & Ilies, 2012) with a strong desire to try new skills in their job. Engaged learner are also known to be more engaged employees, who actively look for opportunities to improve and persist longer in challenging situations. Organizations who can engage their learners witness that more individual effort is put into overcoming barriers and ‘roadblocks’ to workplace application leading to a better individual and organizational performance. This build a strong case for a new recipe for learner engagement: what are the key ingredients of that learner engagement recipe and what can corporate L&D influence.

How to engage your learners – key ingredients

During the past 12 months we have reached out to Crossknowledge clients and corporate Learning Leaders from our network to find out what their challenges are in terms of learner engagement. In parallel we conducted desk research and shared early learner engagement ‘recipe’ views at conferences and roundtables to gather feedback and input on our views and concepts. The result of this journey is a leaner engagement recipe with 4 clusters that you can embrace and implement to improve learner engagement in your organization.

The 4 learner engagement clusters are:

To make sure that prepare yourself for better learner engagement, you should know which questions to ask yourself per cluster.

How to bake the learner engagement recipe in your organization?

If CLOs have the desire to boost their learner engagement we recommend that they review our Learner Engagement recipe and its ingredients and initiate the following actions:

Learner engagement is a challenge for many corporate L&D organizations. Not addressing this challenge runs the risk of limited employee engagement and dissatisfactory overall performance. In sharing personal lessons and research we have identified 4 clusters that boost learner engagement in your organization. In addition CLO’s can achieve efficiency, higher quality and consistency in their L&D operation by leveraging the global-local matrix framework. These clusters form the ingredients of our new recipe to boost learner engagement. With a step-by-step guidance, you have a powerful recipe to bake learner engagement inside your organization.


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