The Employee-Driven Engagement Revolution

We’re in the midst of an employee-driven revolution in the workplace. Empowered by digital tools with real-time feedback, employees have a new and louder voice and demand a more responsive relationship with their company. Millennials, digital natives raised on social media, bring a new mindset to the workplace—one influenced by a more democratic, personal, and consumer-like culture.

As a result, the employer-employee relationship is rapidly being redefined. Today’s employees expect to shape their own experience at work. They want to be involved from the ground up designing their own HR programs. They prefer their managers to be “life coaches” who can advise on career development. This is really about the personalization of the employment experience, and it will not be optional.

But are companies keeping up with the times and engaging workers?

Udemy for Business partnered with Toluna Group and surveyed 1000 U.S. workers to find out. In our new Udemy 2016 Workplace Boredom Study, we discovered that nearly half of U.S. workers are disengaged. And the top reason why? Surprisingly, it wasn’t that they didn’t have enough to do, but instead, employees desired to learn something new.

Workers yearn for purpose and stimulation

What this tells me is that today’s workforce—increasingly powered by millennials—yearns for larger purpose and meaning in their jobs. It’s not just about advancing up the corporate ladder or biding your time and waiting for your ticket to be punched, but growing by learning new skills that open up doors to new adventures.

Modern workers want control of their own destinies. So I challenge you to ask: Is your company thinking about each employee’s personal future?

This is the question we must answer ‘yes’ to in order to keep people engaged and passionate about their jobs.

How can you turn bored workers into highly engaged performers?

The bottom line is employees desire to continuously learn and grow to stay engaged. They want to envision their own future development path and key steps to achieve their goals. Learning and development plays an important role in helping people realize their dreams. However, in order to be effective with today’s workforce, you must reinvent how you deliver and integrate learning at your company.

Here are four key elements I recommend considering:

  • Don’t just give lip service to learning. By that, I mean don’t just buy a learning platform and then tick the box. Or maybe you already have one, but wonder why engagement is still low. Learning and development needs to be holistically integrated into your culture, performance reviews, lines of business, and career development if you really want to change and affect engagement.
  • Give employees time to learn. Workers complain they only have 1% of their work week for training and development, according to Bersin by Deloitte. How are employees expected to acquire new skills and stimulate themselves if they aren’t given the time to learn? Consider building in “learning days” just like you schedule meetings, off-sites or team outings.
  • Make learning fun. Today’s younger and digitally savvy workforce prefers a consumer-driven learning platform that’s engaging, user-friendly, social, personalized, and fun. Is your learning platform intuitive and is the content fresh? If your learning platform isn’t engaging, it’s doomed to gather dust.
  • Map out the future with key learning steps. In career discussions and performance reviews, managers should work together with employees to help them visualize what their future looks like at your organization and the key learning steps to reach their goals. Learning should infuse all aspects of your business, and shouldn’t be limited to a program pushed by HR or training teams.

If employees are excited about their own personal future at your company, and you invest in their education, employee loyalty and engagement will ultimately rise. In the end, it’s not about offering free lunch or more pay, but it’s about tapping into every human’s innate curiosity to be stimulated and their natural desire to grow personally.

To access the complete results of our 2016 Udemy Workplace Boredom Study and understand how you can leverage learning to drive engagement, click here.

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