10 tips to stimulate online learning within the organisation

You can stimulate employees in multiple ways to further develop themselves: give compliments, listen, create space for their ideas, have conversations about personal development and provide a divers learning offer. But what if you do all of these things and still haven’t achieved the desired result? We talk about nudging to make healthy and sensible choices, such as teaching, more appealing.

What is nudging?

You make hundreds of choices a day; arbitrary ones such as what you eat for breakfast or which clothes you will wear, but also more substantive decisions, at work for instance. A little nudge in the right direction can help and even be necessary. Nudges make healthy choices easier and more appealing. For example, the decision between stairs and escalator. The Fun Theory shows that healthy decisions can be stimulated. 

You can apply nudging in organisations as well. It argues in favour of the road in between obligating and total free choice. Employers can draw attention to healthy choices among their personnel. The government also stimulates sensible choices in this way, for example the donor law in the Netherlands. Per 1 July 2020, donor registration in the Netherlands changes from an opt-in to an opt-out system. This means that everyone in the Netherlands is an organ and tissue donor, unless they enter a different choice in the donor register. Youth under 18, will perceive this law as ‘normal’ and do not notice the stronger influence of the government. 


Application in learning

Nudging is perfect to stimulate online learning. The next parts play a role within this stimulation:

  • Make learning appealing: use visual support, images, short videos, colours (there is big  difference between using red and green, for example), ensure personal attention and the possibility for a reward after completion; 
  • Make learning easy: make sure that the road from being interested in an education and starting it, is as short as possible so the follow-up will almost go automatically; 
  • Use social group behaviour: tell how many colleagues already did this education, share success stories, testimonials and use role models; 
  • Good timing is important: make sure the learning content can be found on logical spots and is linked to moments when an employee is open to it. For example, around the time of a personal development conversation;
  • Use priming: activate the intention the employees have to follow an education by asking about it, writing it down and sharing this with colleagues. It has a magical effect on one’s commitment;
  • Use framing: no one dislikes winning something. Offer the education in such a way that employees realise they have missed an opportunity if they don not sign up. Note your word-use. The sentence “when you start this training you will spend an evening a week on personal development” works better than “When you start this training, it will cost you one evening a week for personal development”. 

Let’s shake things up!

Besides nudging there are many more things you can apply to wake up ‘sleeping’ employees. We sum up a few creative ideas so you can involve your employees as early as possible in the learning process:

  • Take the stage: enter a healthy competition element. For example, an (online) score board (learning platforms often have possibilities for integrated badges and point systems) or a monthly take the stage moment at the department. The more you share on the work floor, the more of the learned content will be remembered. Make sure this competition element does not have any negative consequences, this way a judgmental culture will arise. This disturbs the positive vibe and results in distrust. 
  • Develop together: involve your employees in developing a new education, ask if they can help developing content. They are the target group and can tell you their expectations best. Moreover, you create ownership and goodwill, two important points for intrinsic motivation. 
  • Cross-fertilisation: Make sure the knowledge is shared between employees that follow the education and the ones that don not. For example, think of an assignment in which the learners need to come in contact with the non-learners, such as a final presentation for the whole team, or let the learning employees follow someone from another department. 
  • Inspire: invite an inspiring speaker at a certain point in the training and let the non-learning employees tag along. Of course you have an attractive action plan to get the non-learners on board at the end of such a session. 

You probably have got plenty of other ideas that could work for your organisation. Don’t hesitate, motivate and learn!