If you were to look inside the HR function of many large organizations, you might find that the Learning and Development team and the Employee Engagement team don’t interact much.

But these are two components of HR that, when you think about it, make sense to link. And not only that, employees tell us that their engagement depends on their opportunities to learn. It’s all a part of a larger philosophy we call People Success—bringing together the traditionally siloed HR functions of employee engagement, performance, and learning to help people bring their best selves to work so they can do their best work.

That’s what LinkedIn Learning’s Amy Borsetti and Deanna Grady, and Glint’s Steven Buck discussed in their recent webinar, Why Learning is Essential to Employee Engagement.

In fact, Glint research has shown that, compared to their peers, employees who see good opportunities to learn and grow at their organization are:

  • 3.6 times more likely to report being happy;
  • 3.5 times more likely to report they believe their company can help them meet their career goals; and
  • 2.9 times more likely to report they expect they’ll still be with the company in two years.

In short, an organization’s Learning and Development and Employee Engagement strategies can have a powerful impact when working together.

“People… want to feel invested in,” Amy said. “The more we can tie that connection with purpose and look to invest in employees, they’re going to be engaged.”

Learning and employee engagement in the pandemic

It can’t be overstated just how important employee learning has been during the seismic changes the workplace has experienced amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Employees around the world have shown an unprecedented level of interest in learning on the job during this time

In March and April 2020, LinkedIn Learning experienced its largest spike in history, as employees spent 130% more time learning than they had in the first two months of the year. 

“With COVID-19 and all of its power, we’re starting to see employees having to really upskill and re-skill in what is now a very virtual environment that we’re all in,” Amy said.

One pandemic trend has become increasingly clear: managers are being presented with a wide variety of learning opportunities as they cope with new challenges. Glint research has found that managers have experienced the pandemic-related work shifts differently from individual contributors, with managers feeling less clear about what to prioritize and burdened with the uncertainty related to processes like performance management. 

Both Amy and Steven noted the pandemic has also required managers to improve their soft skills, like empathy, compassion, and creativity.

“Managers are used to doing ‘Management 101’ stuff,” Steven said.”Managers previously have actively avoided asking people about their personal lives. We’re now seeing a convergence of those skill sets.”

One development Amy, Steven, and Deanna predicted will be here to stay: Providing employees learning content in the flow of work. For instance, employee engagement survey results can identify growth opportunities for managers, and L&D content can help them act on those opportunities.

“We all are engaging with technology every single day,” Amy said. “When we think about that, better to meet [managers] where they are than to have them hunting and pecking for the learning opportunities.”

To hear more from Amy, Deanna, and Steven about why learning is essential to employee engagement, watch the webinar recording.