3 Ways to Generate Buy-in for Workplace Learning

Everyone is “for learning,” hypothetically anyway. We all have things we want to learn and ways in which we want to grow, but when it comes to actually taking a course or committing to a learning plan, suddenly people are resistant. Mention the words “mandatory training” in any office setting and you’re virtually guaranteed to hear a chorus of groans.

We know that education without motivation doesn’t amount to much, so how can we generate some excitement for learning opportunities in the workplace? At an Institute for Performance and Learning event in Toronto (where my boss Juliana delivered a great session on adapting eLearning) Sarah Clarke introduced the “3 Promises of Learning.” These three qualities show your learners that if they spend time going through your resources they are getting something in exchange. These promises should be evident from the beginning and continue all the way through the learning process.


Telling someone that your resources are useful is great, but showing them the value in concrete numbers can be much more persuasive. By compiling and providing empirical data, you can directly quantify the benefits to your users. For example, many Learnography resources start with learners completing a quiz. These quizzes identify areas of strength so people avoid wasting time learning things they already know. The quizzes also identify what areas need attention. Micro data shows your learners how they have improved, while macro data can help them determine how they compare to others. Every piece of data you share supports the perceived efficacy of the learning.


This is the promise of continuous learning. As Sarah suggested, it often takes the form of follow-up activities to make sure material sticks. At Learnography, we are always aware that our resources should continue seamlessly into a learner’s daily life. We’ve found that huge long-term value can be added to modules and webinars by including a takeaway job aid. Students can bring these condensed reference documents back to their work and use them every day. The goal with these resources is to enhance the existing experience and ensure the learning leads to behavioural change. We love this practice so much that we’ve developed job aids for our internal team!


In her presentation, Sarah quoted the startling statistic that 71% of employees in Canada are not engaged in their work. This might be okay in the day-to-day office environment, but engagement is absolutely necessary if people are going to consider a learning resource valuable. For me, the best engagement technique is the laugh factor. I like to read things that make me laugh, so I try to inject some humor into my blogs (even if the jokes are only funny to me). If you can’t make your learners laugh, at least don’t bore them: trim out anything that doesn’t support your message or deliver necessary knowledge.

By harnessing the promises of learning, you’ll create learning resources your employees might actually want to use. And every time a learner opens up a video or a learning module with a smile on their face, an angel gets its wings.


Author: Kate Salmon

Communications specialist and general word nerd from Toronto, Ontario. Upon learning that I could still get a degree in rhetoric in the 21st century, I went to the University of Waterloo to do precisely that. Now I'm continuing my learning journey at Learnography, a non-profit education consulting organization that really practices its principles of continuous development. With a great team of former educators who are dedicated to creating transformative learning experiences, we are changing the face of corporate training.

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