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Experience Exchange: How to foster employee engagement

Transform your workforce with strategic immersive learning.
A diverse group of happy looking employees sit at a table, all with hands raised to engage with the meeting they're in.

The quest for cultivating an engaged and dynamically skilled workforce remains a top priority for organizations worldwide. During our latest Experience Exchange discussion, Growth through practice: The employee enablement advantage, Luc Dallaire, Head of Growth at Bright shared his insights on transforming employee engagement through strategic immersive learning.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, Dallaire defines immersive learning as “getting the chance to do and practice the skills and behaviors in the environment and the setting that you need to do them.” For example, he says, if your contact center job is to take calls, use Salesforce, handle difficult customers, and write follow-up emails, immersive learning means practicing those conversations, de-escalating angry customers, using systems like Salesforce, and writing follow-up emails. 

While many think of immersion as donning virtual reality (VR) goggles and tackling simulations in the metaverse, it can take many forms — from role-playing to eLearning modules. It focuses on making learning as realistic as possible, enabling employees to apply their learning effectively.

Now that we’re aligned on immersive learning, let’s dive deeper into tips and takeaways from the discussion to help you integrate the practice into your own learning and development program — and revitalize your approach to employee engagement.

Build a culture of development

In a workplace that values adaptability and continual learning, it's crucial to lay a solid foundation for new hires. Starting with a strategic learning plan ensures that employees are not just trained but are truly enabled to grow within the organization, requiring less intervention and more autonomous growth as they progress. Traditional training programs often focus solely on information transfer, but more effective modern methods emphasize practical, hands-on experiences.

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Tip: Focus on creating a comprehensive onboarding program that not only covers the technical aspects of the job but also instills a sense of purpose and belonging among the newcomers. Test out hands-on activities, like role-playing customer interactions, to provide practical experience and foster deeper understanding and engagement right from the start.

Strategic implementation matters

Dallaire emphasizes starting with the most impactful transactions or elements that would provide an "immediate bang for the buck." He suggests focusing on creating learning experiences that directly affect the organization's key outcomes. Strategic implementation involves integrating immersive and simulation-based learning as core components, scaling practice opportunities to build proficiency.

“80-20 rule. 80% of your work comes from 20% of interactions. So, start small,” Dallaire says. “Pick your core most impactful transactions and build incredible repetition from that.”

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Tip: Identify critical skills and knowledge areas that have the most significant impact on performance. For example, if customer service responsiveness is crucial for business success, develop targeted training modules focused on improving response times, handling customer complaints effectively, and ensuring customer satisfaction. This approach ensures a direct correlation between learning initiatives and business goals, enhancing overall performance and customer service outcomes.

Balance needs against novelty

With advancements in technology, the possibilities for immersive learning experiences are vast. However, as Dallaire says: “Just because something can be simulated doesn't mean it should be.” The key is in selecting the right tools and situations that enhance — not complicate — the learning process. Remember too that technology is a tool, not a solution in itself. 

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Tip: When considering simulations or technological learning tools, prioritize effectiveness over novelty. Select tools that enhance core interactions and facilitate meaningful repetition, aligning closely with your learning objectives. Striking a balance between innovation and practicality ensures technology contributes directly to learner development.

Start strong — and early

Early assessment in training is crucial. Immersive learning experiences give employees a realistic preview of their roles, facilitating a better fit for both the organization and the individual, significantly impacting retention. 

“When you rethink the learning and development operating model with the new capabilities that are in the market, you can start people practicing the job on day two of training,” Dallaire says. “Lots of companies we work with see early on — within the first few days of training — that their attrition goes up.” And yes, he goes on, that is a good thing. 

“It’s called ‘healthy attrition,’” Dallaire explains. “Because those are the people who will ultimately still leave, but it might take them six weeks or six months to get to the point where they decide to leave. So, you've paid for the training, you've got them on the floor, they're doing a subpar job, etc. Instead, they're self-electing within the first few days.” 

This in-depth training also helps businesses identify people who might not cut it. “It's a way to test the fit much earlier in the process,” says Dallaire. “And everybody who chooses to stay continues to practice, get good at what they're doing, and now know what they're in for and can be successful.”

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Tip: Incorporate practical, job-related activities early in the training to allow employees to assess their fit and interest. This early engagement helps align expectations and fosters a stronger commitment to the organization.

Connect EX to CX 

“The employee experience and the enablement of that employee is directly related and impactful to the customer experience,” says Dallaire. Well-trained, engaged employees perform proficiently and embody organizational values, delivering exceptional service that builds customer loyalty.

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Tip: Invest in comprehensive training programs that not only enhance technical skills but also emphasize customer-centric values and behaviors. For example, implement interactive workshops and case studies focusing on understanding customer needs and effective communication. When employees practice these skills in realistic scenarios, they gain a deeper appreciation for customer-centric values. And when employees understand their impact on customer satisfaction, they are motivated to deliver consistently excellent service.

The path to sustained growth

It’s clear that organizations can help employees succeed through continuous learning, impactful activities, using technology wisely, and engaging them early on. These efforts make employees better at their jobs.

But ongoing learning is not only about getting better internally, but also about being excellent in a way that customers notice, appreciate and reward with their loyalty. When employees are skilled and confident, they consistently deliver exceptional service — vital for retaining customers, improving service standards, and staying ahead in the market.

Immersive learning plays a pivotal role here. By immersing employees in realistic job scenarios and providing hands-on training, organizations ensure that learning is practical and impactful. This approach not only enhances learning but also sharpens employees' ability to deliver exceptional service in whatever interaction is thrown at them.

Investing in employees’ skills and engagement through immersive learning isn’t just strategic; it’s foundational to building enduring customer relationships based on trust and exceptional service.

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