How to Get Your Employees Excited About a New Learning Program

Big Think Edge | January 18, 2018

Generating excitement and enthusiasm for a new learning program can be an enormous challenge for any organization. Very few working adults find “going back to school” to be an appealing prospect. However, getting employees excited for a new learning initiative can allow them to benefit more from the content of the program—improving the program’s ROI.

So, how can you get your employees excited to start a new learning program and embrace the content of those lessons?

Some strategies and advice for building excitement for your newest learning program include:

Encouraging a Growth Mindset Among Employees

In many workplaces, employees are congratulated on their apparent talents rather than on their effort and growth. These employees, when congratulated for their talent rather than their effort, can ironically become afraid of trying new things—being more concerned with maintaining that positive image of being smart and talented than taking risks.

This is a phenomenon noted in a previous Big Think article on the impacts of a growth mindset on innovation and engagement. As noted in a study cited by the article, “the scores of the students who were praised for their intelligence dropped in further tests… students who were praised for their intelligence avoided further challenging tasks.” Treating intelligence and skill as a fixed statistic gives employees an out for failures.

However, encouraging a growth mindset—one where employees are praised based on their effort and growth rather than on pre-existing ability—produces a different effect. In the same study mentioned above, it was noted that the scores of students “who were praised for their effort increased” and that “students who were praised for their effort proceeded to more challenging tasks.”

Rather than becoming afraid of failure and being seen as foolish, these students now have a mindset where they are eager to grow and learn new things.

Creating this mindset takes constant effort and a careful evaluation of how you deliver assessments to your employees. Instead of only congratulating employees for their brilliance, it’s important to emphasize how much effort they’ve put into growing and learning in their time with your organization. This creates positive feedback for employees who spend more of their time learning new skills—making them more likely to get excited whenever a new learning program is made available.

Publicly Recognizing High-Achieving Employees That Complete Training Initiatives

Piggy-backing off the idea of congratulating employees for their ongoing growth and effort, recognizing success after employees complete training is important as well. One effective way to prove the value of a training initiative to employees is to give them examples of how others have actually benefited from, and been honored for, completing similar training initiatives. For example, you could:

  1. Create a list of “graduates” who completed certain courses;
  2. Create a kind of skills matrix that shows off who has what skills; or
  3. Establish an employee of the month system and show off which training courses they’ve completed on their plaque.

You can be as creative as you want with this recognition tactic. By showcasing the success of others following certain training initiatives, you can reinforce how important training programs are to employee success—using real-world examples of colleagues they know and may even admire.

Tying Program Completion to Employee Incentives

Tying tangible incentives beyond office recognition to the successful completion of a training initiative can be an effective way to boost excitement for (and engagement with) the learning program.

Many organizations go beyond just recognizing extraordinary effort in training by providing bonuses, promotion opportunities, and even pay increases for the acquisition of mission-critical skills. This kind of incentive initiative can be especially useful for self-directed learning (SDL) programs where employees take lessons at their own pace.

Some businesses make the value of the bonus commensurate with the difficulty or rarity of the skill—helping to close skills gaps for certain mission-critical skills by incentivizing them more. Here making a skills matrix that lists which skills are needed by the organization and what the incentives are for learning these skills can be helpful.

Do you have a favorite strategy for getting your teams excited for a new learning program? Share it with us in the comments below!

Or, if you have more questions about how you can deliver top-quality learning content to your employees, please contact Big Think Edge and ask us about our short-form online videos featuring lessons from world-famous experts!


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