How to Demonstrate the Relevance of Learning

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Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
How to Demonstrate the Relevance of Learning

In our expert guide ‘A Recipe for Success: How to Use Marketing Tactics to Boost Your L&D’, we discussed how, when employed correctly, using marketing tactics for your L&D not only boosts learner participation but can also raise the profile of learning in your organisation. Just as a marketer influences people to ‘buy’ something, we want people to ‘buy’ into L&D. The major difference is that marketing targets an external audience, whereas L&D markets internally.

However, if a learner can’t see how the learning will improve their life at work, they are unlikely to sign up to a training course they consider irrelevant. This is especially true when we consider that research by Deloitte reveals that the modern learner is overwhelmed, distracted and impatient, with a mere 1% of a typical work week dedicated to training and development.

This is why it is crucial that you construct a strong case for your learning programs; after all, such time-poor employees need to know that any precious hours invested in training and development are really worth it. You need to be able to answer the question every learner is thinking: “What’s in it for me?”

Jo Cook, in the November 2018 issue of Training Journal, highlights the fact that marketing your L&D internally is about “helping other people understand that investing in themselves is more than a face-to-face class. It can also be about changing people’s perception of a system or process.” In other words, you need to change the way people see learning and development in your organisation. Communicating exactly how training will personally benefit individuals will help to change their perceptions and ultimately increase the likelihood of them getting onboard with learning.


Employees working on devices and asking questions around a central question mark

‘What’s In It For Me?’

Let’s say we have a salesperson, Hayley, who works for an automotive company. Hayley refuses to get on board with the new customer booking system because “the old way works just fine” and “this is how it’s always been done and no customer has complained yet.” She then goes on to add that “technology will just complicate things”.

What Hayley does not see is that the new booking system is going to make the booking process far more efficient. This will give Hayley far more free time to focus on other daily tasks that she otherwise finds herself rushing to complete at the end of the day.

Offering Hayley the chance to learn skills for the new customer booking system simply leaves her asking the question: ‘What’s in it for me?’

This is where you must provide her with a robust and convincing answer.

How to Demonstrate the Relevance of Learning

Unless people can see why and how the learning will apply to them personally, they will dismiss it as something needed only to tick boxes and fill seats. If time-pressured employees are to dedicate time to learning or developing a skill, what they want is real value. How many times have you been made to learn something only to find that you need never apply it to your actual job? Were you engaged with the learning? Chances are, probably not.

Without understanding why they are learning and how it will improve their working lives, employees are not going to be very engaged. High employee engagement is crucial in L&D – after all, according to Udemy, companies spend on average $1,252 per employee on learning programs, but nearly half of workers (45%) believe that these programs are not applicable to their jobs.

So, how can you demonstrate the relevance of learning to get people on board with your learning opportunities? Some simple steps are outlined below.


L&D practitioner and learner talking together to identify learner challenges


Identify learner pain points – You can do this simply by having a conversation with your learner and listening carefully to what they have to say (or, for a larger target audience, you can collect feedback through surveys, questionnaires and focus groups). In our example, Hayley’s pain point is “technology is complicated”. Her answers makes it clear that she does not see how learning to use the new booking system will improve her working life – she appears very resistant to change.


L&D practitioner and learner at desk, using laptops and communicating


Communicate your reasoning clearly – You should be prepared to show how the learning can help improve your employee’s working life. For Hayley, we know that she is often rushed at the end of the day, but we also get the impression that she is not comfortable with using technology. To reassure her, you can show her exactly how easy the new system is to use, and how it makes customer records easier to store, locate and amend. You should point out that this then leaves her with far more time to focus on other day-to-day tasks.


L&D practitioner telling learner about success stories, with different examples of learners on laptops appearing in the speech bubbles


Use success stories – If you’ve got a success story or two, don’t be afraid to shout about it! Real-life successes are a powerful method of persuasion by providing a proven and relatable example. If it’s worked for others in the organisation, chances that Helen will be more open to your L&D offerings. Powerful storytelling can help people see things from another point of view.


Employee leaping out of book with variety of icons representing learning topics


Champion your ambassadors for learning – Want to strengthen your case for learning even further? Find a member of staff who has successfully completed the training and get them to advocate the benefits of the system. Ask them to describe exactly how the training has improved their working life. There’s a powerful social influence that can be harnessed here – people will naturally look up to successful people in the organisation and imitate their behaviour.


Employees looking at different forms of graphs and data on boards and laptops around them


Personalise the learning – You should ensure the learning is personalised to the employee’s needs so that they only need to do what’s relevant to them. Not only does this save time and cost, but it also results in a more engaged learner.


Employees working on different technologies connected to a central cloud


Be authentic – Finally, allow your passion for continuous learning to shine through in all you say – after all, you have to truly believe in what you’re marketing in order to influence others. Authenticity really does go a long way!

In Summary…

Remember to always put your learners at the heart of what you do. Reach out to them and get to the bottom of what it is that they truly want from learning. Are they are fully able to see its relevance in their daily working lives? This is where you come in.

Never lose sight of that core question: ‘What’s in it for me?’ If people recognise the relevance of learning, they’ll have a solid reason to get on board. And that’s a success worth shouting about.

If you would like to learn more about how our cutting-edge blended learning ecosystem can help you reach your organisational goals, we’ve got the tools and expertise to help you succeed. Request a demo to arrange to speak to one of our experts.

We’re always exploring key trends in the learning and development world, so keep an eye on our blog and social media channels to see when new insights are published:

For further tips on how to successfully market your L&D offerings, be sure to check out our other blog post and free expert guide:

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Steve Finch
Thinqi Ambassador
Steve Finch is Head of Marketing and Brand Ambassador for Thinqi, the modern learning system. With a background in customer success and digital learning programme delivery, Steve has been helping organisations deliver effective modern learning for nearly 20 years.