It's not enough to make a great product. Today, learning initiatives require a strategic communications plan to help your plan land and stick.
Communicating learning initiatives can be tricky. You may be introducing a new platform, concept, philosophy, or all three...while also connecting them to team goals, individual motivations, and putting to bed any concerns. You might find a number of negative beliefs about employer-supported learning impede engagement in new learning initiatives. Some of the most frequent negative beliefs include believing offered learning experiences are:
- Not relevant to job
- Inapplicable at work (because of role or leadership)
- Not something I’m interested in
- Hard to use
- Uniformed our outdated content
- Not used by my peers
Research in behavioral psychology suggests three areas influence whether someone engages in a behavior:
Behavior beliefs - What people think will happen when they do something.
- Do the good outcomes from the decision outweigh bad outcomes?
Normative beliefs - How do others judge the behavior.
- Does engagement fall as a normative behavior among the people the decision maker identifies with?
Control beliefs - Whether people believe they have control over the decision and use.
- Can I complete the task myself and if so how easy is it to do so?
Having already designed learning experiences we believe understand the user's context, positioning a new learning initiative is largely framing designs as one that is overwhelmingly positive, supported by your environment, and puts you in control.
Northwestern Mutual was looking to change the way it delivered learning. Degreed was identified as a platform capable of offering the experiences and values they we're trying to provide, but how do you communicate this as a new experience that provides value and is worth engagement?
Strategic communications considered the three behavioral factors mentioned above: behavior beliefs, normative beliefs, and control beliefs. Different approaches and channels were used to influence mindsets in each area:
GIFs, graphics, and video catch people where they are and support messaging around control (over learning direction, content, and ownership) and convenience (access) .
Sizzle reels and micro-teasers illustrating positive outcomes such as content relevance, skill acquisition, discovery and meaningful content.
Influencer posts and animations frame advanced functionality like creating user-generated content as normative behavior.
Strategic communications is more than encouraging engagement, but also the change management and education around the direction, purpose, components, and process involved in a change. Here strategic communications and learning design dovetail in both sentiments to be imparted and behaviors to be encouraged for a successful implementation.
What will get your audience to your new learning? Cake pops, swag, and a good keynote...in that order.
- Leadership speaker notes
- Sourcing keynote speakers
- Demo booths
- Swag & Snacks & Beats
- Video Documentation
Platform and anecdotal data suggest enjoyment and engagement with material. Ongoing weekly marketing continues to support engagement and advanced usage of the platform. Follow-up consultation with people leaders will determine if engagement has advanced to application and is positively influencing professional development in relation to the same metrics pre-launch.
Working up to the weekend before to create learning pathways, the platform was launched 3/05 to 400 employees. High engagement on the launch day has leveled out to above-average engagement for population size.