How content marketing can fuel employee learning and development
I have always been an insatiable learner. I was a big reader as a child and now as a professional, it’s almost overwhelming the amount of books, blogs and articles that I want to read. But as I’ve gotten busier, like most people, reading has fallen by the wayside, with books piled up on my nightstand that I never quite get to.
However, I continue to learn and stay at the cutting edge of my industry. How? Content marketing. My agency is committed to writing and speaking about marketing and public relations topics, and thus I continually read and conduct research to ensure my blog posts and presentations are accurate, comprehensive and up to date.
Teach to learn
Anyone who has ever taught anything knows that the best way to learn something is to teach it. This concept translates directly to content marketing, which can be the best form of corporate learning and development (L&D). I have long preached this to my clients—by engaging in content marketing you will kill two birds with one stone, creating a learning culture while practicing cutting-edge marketing.
This has become especially apparent to me due to our work with a new client in the learning management system (LMS) space. For those unfamiliar, learning management systems are software applications for e-learning, where employees can take online courses and complete training as part of their L&D plans. With any new client, we have delved into the industry, learning as much as we can about the product, competitors, issues and trends.
Learning is broken
One theme has consistently appeared throughout my research—the corporate world’s L&D model is broken. “Training” has become a dirty word throughout much of corporate America, conjuring up images of cringe-worthy sexual harassment videos, sleep-inducing PowerPoints and out-of-touch managers with no idea of what their employees need to succeed in their jobs.
Employees are disengaged
At the same time, companies are struggling with an epidemic of employee disengagement. Consistent with numerous other studies, Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, released in late 2013, showed that only 30 percent of employees are engaged in their workplaces, while a full 52 percent are disengaged, and 18 percent are actively disengaged.
According to Employee Engagement 2.0 author Kevin Kruse, employee engagement is “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.” This means that they “actually care about their work and their company. They don’t work just for a paycheck, or just for the next promotion, but work on behalf of the organization’s goals. When employees care—when they are engaged—they use discretionary effort.”
Let them blog
There are numerous studies detailing what drives employee engagement. At the top of list? Training and development. Yet companies are still struggling with poor engagement levels and broken training models.
I propose that companies take a different L&D approach. Instead of asking employees to only take training courses, challenge them to blog about new topics. Pitch them as a speaker at a conference. Push them to write and speak on topics that are slightly out of their comfort zone.
Writing well forces you to think through key points, question your knowledge gaps, do research to fill in those gaps, and structure your ideas logically. While writers should always be transparent about what they know and don’t know, and give credit to ideas and information that are not their own, they will still be more knowledgeable, authoritative, and insightful than they were before they began writing (or speaking). And they will be engaging in content marketing, one of the most effective strategies available to marketers today.
By allowing your employees to speak or write on behalf of your organization (in blogs, trade publications, social media or elsewhere) you also empower them, recognize their knowledge and skills, and demonstrate your trust in their ability to represent your organization. In this age of rampant disengagement, it’s a clear win-win.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the benefits of allowing your employees to blog and speak. Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.