How to Create a Culture of Engaged Learning at Your Organization

Eight strategies for designing a learning program that engages your team.

When was the last time you asked your team what they wanted to learn and how they wanted to learn it?  
A culture of learning starts at the C-suite. Leadership must value a learning program that is more than top-down content dissemination because learning is more than a check-the-box task. To be successful, learning must connect to the values and motivations of the individuals on your team. 

In her highly regarded work Learner-Centered Teaching, Dr. Maryellen Weimer identified that learner-focused programs make the adult an active participant in the learning process. To be successful, learners have some choice over where, when, how, and what they learn, and who they learn from. Most leaders see the value of providing learners with choices and engaging them as active participants but often do not have the time and resources to invest in such a program. It sounds great–even ideal–but how do you do it?

Eight learner-focused strategies 

These eight strategies will help you design programs your learners want to complete: 

  • Get others involved. You can’t build a learning program solo. Express excitement by inviting a program champion to help. If leadership and/or the program champion are not engaged, it’s likely the learners won’t be either.
  • Ignite ideas. Learning programs that put the learner front and center should be designed with your learners’ values and motivations in mind. Make it fun! If you don’t know what spikes excitement for those participating in the training, how will you know how to ignite engagement? Ask! Send out a survey or a challenge, meet with teams, or make phone calls. There are multiple ways to gather this information; the key is knowing what and how learners want to learn.
  • Seek alignment. Evaluate what motivates your teams and how that aligns with your training goals and objectives. If your goals are to create a safer workforce, and the learners’ goals involve increasing productivity, then offer one training a month that aligns with the must-have training while offering additional training that aligns with learners’ goals.
  • Offer choices. Do your learners have any choice in where, how, what, or when they learn? Adults like options and choices, so provide different options for learning. Offer live online sessions; independent, self-paced training; or a combination of both.
  • Make values visible. Provide the why for learning by making your values visible to everyone in your organization. For example, put your core values, quotes that support your core values, and pictures of your company’s team members on your website, posters, or in video messages.
  • Put people first. If the instructor is generating all the content and leading all the presentations–in essence, standing at the front of all learning experiences–it shouldn’t be surprising when learners don’t engage. Invite your teams to generate content topics, lead learning, and discuss with each other.
  • Gather feedback. A strong learning management system allows you to gather ongoing, real-time feedback and ratings so you can take the pulse of what learners do and don’t like about training. Use this feedback to make improvements, generate new training, and connect learners’ experiences.
  • Celebrate. Make learning fun! Set monthly challenges, and celebrate learners who meet those challenges. Use incentive programs in the learning management system to award digital badges, share lunch or donuts, give out a trophy that’s passed around, and, in a monthly newsletter, recognize learners at the top of the leaderboards.

Learner-focused programs can be designed by following these easy-to-implement steps. Remember: Start small, and try one component first. As you get more comfortable, you can add additional components. If you’re going to invest in training, create a program your team wants to complete.

Article originally published on October 23, 2023 on

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