How Active Learning Improves Employee Engagement, Training, and Retention for Better CX

This week’s guest on the Digitally Irresistible podcast is John Kruper, senior vice president of global learning and development at iQor. John leads an award-winning team of trainers and coaches around the world who skillfully train iQor agents and supervisors to rapidly enable them to provide service and support for the customer care programs entrusted to us by some of the world’s biggest brands.

John specializes in designing effective employee training and development models that contribute to great CX and high employee retention levels. He designs active learning strategies that produce better-trained agents with higher performance outcomes, whether it’s upselling, reducing average handle times (AHT), or driving better customer satisfaction scores (CSAT). This method of learner-centered training empowers employees to learn by doing through collaborative experiences that enhance their skills and deepen their relationship with the company. Optimize the customer experience through human-centric interaction with agents.

On this episode, we explore the current and future states of global learning and development and look at research-backed innovations that enable rapid training and high levels of employee retention at scale. The contrast between current and future states of learning applies to many businesses, including enterprises training internal frontline employees as well as business process outsourcing (BPO) companies training frontline customer service agents. As research-based evidence of effective adult learning evolves, so does the need to adjust training methodologies to ensure frontline employees get the opportunity to be onboarded successfully by trainers who use practices that result in better performance outcomes.

Lifelong Learning and Training

John has a longstanding commitment to cultivating excellent educational experiences. His career journey began with a doctorate in science education. He spent the first 20 years of his career developing an expertise in digital education and virtual learning while working in higher education and academia with professors and academic programs to bring their programs online.

Then, about 15 years ago, John transitioned from academia to the BPO industry to bring valuable digital learning and career development experiences to frontline customer service employees. He joined iQor in 2022 as senior vice president of global learning and development where he works with an award-winning training team to enhance innovations and active learning methodologies in our physical and virtual learning spaces.

Training for Frontline Employees

With hourly workers representing 80% of the global workforce spanning all industries and companies, John says it’s critically important to pay attention to the training experience for these workers. Training enables greater success for hourly employees that typically begin with a baseline set of skills for which they were hired but must learn additional skills and responsibilities in order to perform their new job function.

A bad training program puts the employee behind the curve so they are perpetually trying to play catch-up learning their job responsibilities. This deficiency in skills makes it difficult for them to excel in their job, disconnects them from the company, and often results in their decision to leave.

Indeed, John points out that the training experience is critical to an employee’s success not only in their job but also in their career because these jobs are often pathways to their ultimate career development.

Current State of Training: Passive Learning

Frontline workforce training has commonalities at enterprises and throughout the BPO industry due to the need for employees to master numerous policies, processes, services, and software systems in order to do their job. As a result, new hire employee training is often packed with dense information delivered in a short timeframe by trainers who know the content well but may not necessarily know the most effective strategies for delivering the information.

This typically results in passive learning experiences whereby employees are expected to absorb massive amounts of information through a trainer-focused lecture-based training format. Desks are set up in rows with a lectern and a projector at the front of the room and all eyes are on the trainer who delivers lengthy content in a show-and-tell style. But research shows that showing and telling doesn’t work.

People learn best by doing. As a result, information-rich training needs to change so that new-hire employees can collaborate with other new hires to practice and problem solve with the information they’re learning while being coached by a facilitator who knows the ins and outs of the content.

Future State of Training: Active Learning

The future state of training for frontline employees is active learning. John notes that training classrooms need to support how adults learn best: active, problem-based learning in a collaborative, social environment. This simple yet radical approach transforms information-based learning so employees are empowered to discuss, share, and collaborate with peers. This approach increases knowledge retention, higher-order thinking, participation, engagement, and ultimately contributes to employee retention.

In this training environment, there’s no front of the room. Employees work with colleagues in small groups while the facilitator circulates throughout the learning studio—mentoring, coaching, and asking questions providing an enriching learning experience.

Active learning is organized around the learner with a set of problems and goals that the learner practices solving in a safe environment where they can grow and hone their skills.

How iQor Is Deploying the Future State of Learning and Development

iQor is taking a three-pronged approach to transform its entire learning organization into an active learning one in which high-quality effective learning and employee development is delivered rapidly and at scale to frontline employees.

The three elements of this transformation to active learning include the following:

  1. Design Physical and Virtual Learning Studios

Physical and virtual training classrooms are transformed into collaborative active learning studios that promote interactions between the facilitator and groups of learners.

  1. Establish a Change Management Approach

Implement change management to upskill trainers to support their shift from lecturer to facilitator so their methodologies align with the new pedagogical approach.

  1. Harness Technology

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and other software technology systems offer new tools that enable and empower the active learning environment. John explains that now we can have learning systems that monitor what each individual is learning and how they’re performing and adapt the material accordingly. This makes it possible for everyone to have an individualized learning and development plan instead of a one-size-fits-all curriculum.

With the combination of these three elements, John notes how iQor is transforming our training into an active learning approach, enterprise-wide across all geographies and verticals to support how adults learn best.

Through active learning, frontline workers and training facilitators enjoy a more collaborative and appealing environment, where employees have the opportunity to learn more, retain more, and engage more with the curriculum, one another, and the company. This enhances the employee experience, reduces employee turnover, and builds empathy in the customer experience they provide. Optimize the customer experience through human-centric interaction with agents.

John emphasizes the continued importance of partnering with clients throughout the training process. Transitioning to active learning methodologies is accomplished through an ongoing collaboration with clients to draw on their content expertise and integrate it into an instructional design that supports active learning experiences.

What John Does for Fun

John goes the distance in all that he does. For fun, he loves running every day. Every year for the past 15 years he has run the Chicago Marathon! When he’s not racking up miles on foot, he enjoys road trips with his wife. Over the past two years they have clocked more than 25,000 miles on their camper van, exploring national parks and other areas of the country.

To connect with John, visit his page on LinkedIn.

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