A lack of motivation and engagement in the learning process, leads to unsuccessful training. The type of engagement and motivation required varies – what works in one situation might not be appropriate in another; but when got right, they have a powerful impact on learning, and its application.
To elucidate, let’s study the case of an organization that I know of, which is training its employees on behavioral change. It seems, at first glance, that this is a no-brainer, and that mobile learning, games, and rewards would be motivating and engaging enough. (After all, we have witnessed the power of gamification, game-based learning, mobile learning, and a variety of interactivities that are used generously in online learning, to increase motivation and engagement, right?) But it’s not that simple. Here’s why:
A well-known transport service provider needs to train its several thousands of drivers on social norms. The company provides different modes of training – videos, eLearning, mobile learning, lectures, and even classroom training. The training programs are not tied up with any reward or recognition program; however, clocked in work hours are rewarded. So, drivers are on the road for long hours just so that they become eligible for these rewards.
Despite all the training provided, the company continues to receive complaints of rash and negligent driving, impoliteness, misdemeanours, disrespect to women passengers, refusal to put on the air conditioning, and speaking disrespectfully.
Driving long hours in heavy traffic, extreme weather conditions, on bad roads – would leave anyone tired and cranky; and if this must be done every day – there is a tendency to just harden oneself and work on autopilot. This tiredness factor effects training as well.
The company finds itself in an awkward situation because these drivers are made partners – which makes it impossible to fire them merely on the grounds of bad behaviour. Their bad reputation has given the company a bad name.
Here’s what we know about their background:
- Most of them have grown up in small villages and remote towns, but have migrated to big towns and cities in search of work
- They are unaware of the social norms followed by a society very different from theirs
- Attended small schools where they received very basic education
- Possess a deep-grained, rural mindset from growing up in a rural and backward society
- Many of them would have left their families behind to make a living in the cities, and would be homesick
Motivation and Engagement Tactics
Motivation and engagement have the power to change the most deep-rooted behavioral problems in adult learners – if they resonate with their requirements. Adult learners always ask – what’s in it for me?
In the case of these drivers, they must be made to understand how they would benefit from a change in behaviour (respect and recognition from passengers and the company – which is viewed as a step toward bridging the gap in social status; won’t get into trouble with the law; company rewards that extend to their families), before understanding what’s in it for their passengers (a safe and comfortable ride).
Keep it relevant in terms of content (what’s in it for me, and what do I need to do to make the change), as well as the delivery methods.
Drivers are always on the go. Mobile learning is a feasible option for an on-the-go workforce; however, since drivers are likely to suffer from driver fatigue, a full-fledged mobile learning course could lead to more strain and fatigue.
Microlearning would be easier on their already-fatigued senses. Microlearning audio snippets that can be downloaded and accessed on their mobile devices even with their eyes shut, would be welcome. The fact that these can be listened to repeatedly, will lead to retention of information as well. If the content is relevant, they would even be able to apply those principles, immediately.
Keep it flexible and leave enough room for a healthy work-life balance. Also, provide a variety of learning experiences. Audio files can be supplemented with infographics and real-life videos (these would have more impact than animations). Broadcasts would be effective as well.
The idea is to provide them with variety and then allow them to choose a mode of learning that best suits them. While they will have a preference to learn one way, it’s important to provide other successful ways of learning as well. Freedom and flexibility will help with proactive engagement and prevent an I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude from setting in.
Provide early reminders and alerts. Don’t wait until it’s too late to let learners know that they are falling behind. Reminders to complete courses and early alerts when they are falling behind will keep them engaged with their training program.
Drivers could also be sent reminders on their mobile devices in the form of SMSs and/or notifications. Short snippets of refresher information provided regularly, benefit knowledge retention and behavioral change, can be accessed between rides.
Finally, reward all efforts that are made in the right direction. Employees must be made aware of how they have contributed to the well-being of the organization. Acknowledgement of their efforts will motivate them to do better.
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