“Training” is not a word that is overly exciting for employees, who find it an obligatory part of their work. However, training activities are one of the core areas for any organization to focus on as it helps its employees to grow and, in turn, benefits the business. In order to engage and encourage employees to actively learn, it’s important to understand the gap in training and bring in newer approaches.
Congruent Solutions, an expert retirement plan administration provider that caters to Fortune 500 companies in the US, has recently taken a unique and creative route in order to make training engrossing for its employees.
The new ‘Learning & Development’ (L&D) initiative involves Microlearning i.e. providing small learning units and short-term learning activities.
The company has chosen comic strips as its format to break down complex subjects such as data protection and privacy, cybersecurity, etc for training. Characters - Bruce, Bella, Captain Firewall, and Priya - help employees learn about the intricacies of retirement plan industry and technology trends in a simpler manner.
The year-long initiative has been divided into 12 learning modules for each month. The comic strip is circulated among the employees through the company newsletter every week. As an extension, Congruent has included gamification in the form of a monthly quiz to help employees to measure their learning.
People Matters spoke to Muthumala S, Head of Human Resources, Congruent Solutions on the challenges that companies face in training Gen Z employees and advantages of their new L&D initiative over traditional ways of training.
Here are some excerpts:
What are challenges in training GenZ employees/other employees at present?
Studies suggest that over 60 million Gen Z members are going to enter the workforce in the next few years. A generation that has not known life without the internet presents a challenge and opportunity for innovation. Having grown up in a digital age, the attention span of this population is much shorter than any other past generations.
With the maximum workforce going to be GenZ, it is crucial to make training sessions as innovative and informative for better engagement. It becomes difficult to ensure attendance in classroom-style training, given their truly digital lives and approach to learning.
Instead of getting them to attend a 90-minute Instructor-Led Training (ILT), it is easier to get their attention through creative approaches such as visual storytelling and gamified versions of the training modules. These are both appealing and beneficial for GenZ employees to expand their skills.
How did Congruent hit on using comics for training?
GenZ learners have to be engaged throughout the learning process. Self-paced learning suits them best as they prefer to learn at their own pace. Enabling micro-learning including gamification elements to create healthy competition has helped us bridge the gap involved in learning and development.
We, at Congruent, chose comics and storytelling to bring in variety and vibrancy to the otherwise traditional and complex content. The curiosity of knowing ‘what’s next’ creates the pull factor for this initiative. We decided to divide the content into small nuggets and make it bite-sized learning, easier for the newer generation to consume.
The year-long initiative has been divided into 12 learning modules for each month. The comic strip is circulated among the employees through the company newsletter every week. As an extension to this, we have also gamified the learning process in the form of a monthly quiz to help employees measure their learnings. Employees are incentivized with ‘badges’ and other rewards to sharpen their competitive spirit.
We have designed comic characters Bruce, Bella, Captain Firewall, and Priya to take employees through the intricacies of the retirement plan industry and other technology tools in an engaging manner. Generic workplace training such as POSH, cybersecurity and data protection and privacy along with regular training modules and certifications in the retirement planning industry is being provided in this way. Micro-learning is used to break down these complex topics into smaller units for short-term learning goals.
How do you trace completion/impact of training?
The appeal and approach of the initiative has resulted in increased engagement, thus leading to increased participation. This shows that our employees like subscribing to this new way of bite-sized learning and it is a success.
Instead of calling it as assessment, we roll out monthly quizzes on the lessons that they have learned over the previous month. We received an overwhelming response and very positive feedback from our employees. It has been very well received.
We also interact with the employees to get their feedback on the input lessons and listen to their expectations to offer them a better learning experience. This has resulted in the graph going upwards in terms of subscription to the lessons when compared to that of a traditional Instructor Led Training (ILT).
Thus, the microlearning initiative at Congruent is definitely a silver bullet in offering a better learning engagement to the employees.
Which is your most sought-after topic in the comic strips?
While we have four comic characters focusing on different topics – the US Retirement Plan domain, Information Security & Data Privacy, the most popular comic character is undoubtedly ‘Captain Firewall’. He evangelizes data privacy and information security, and lands right on time to save individuals who could have been a potential victim of a security breach.
Alongside, this topic sensitizes and orients the employees on
- Information Security Awareness
- Reduction of Threats and Vulnerabilities
- Navigating business risks
- Compliance to Standards
- Building Customer’s trust
This comic strip is popular due to its simple explanation of complex topics such as Phishing, Document Classification and Personally Identifiable Information (PII). etc.
How has been the response so far?
The response has been overwhelming and we find that employees are eagerly waiting for the next lesson. We have received various positive feedback on the initiative and how employees have been able to upskill themselves and reinforce their knowledge on various subjects. Apart from the learning engagement the comics offer, the four characters have become unofficial mascots of the organization.
While microlearning is a very common initiative in most organizations in recent times, it has always been a ‘one size fits all’ approach in delivering the lessons elsewhere. Whereas, at Congruent, we customize the lessons based on our business needs, also catering to the aspirational learning of the Congruenters. We relish the first-mover advantage of doing so through comics and storytelling in the industry.