Instructional Design

8 icebreaker questions to enhance employee engagement in online training

How to enhance employee engagement in training with 8 questions

Many employees are already reluctant, nervous, or even stressed about online training. Can icebreaker questions get them fully engaged and in the right emotional mindset?

How to enhance employee engagement in online training

Motivation is in short supply for some corporate learners. Especially if they’re being forced to participate in online training when they’d rather be on the job. Course intros and stressing real-world benefits can help a little. But some occasions call for a more unconventional and personalized approach.

Online training icebreakers draw employees in and allow them to reflect on the topic, their goals, and areas for improvement. Here are 8 icebreaker questions that can increase employee engagement in online training:

1. What do you expect from the online training experience?

You’ve probably already told employees what’s included in the online training course. But what do they really expect from their training experience? This question allows them to evaluate their preconceived notions of what’s in store for them, as well as what they hope to get from the course. In turn, you can determine if your current training strategy is on point or missing the mark based on their expectations. It’s a win-win.

2. What are your professional ambitions?

It may seem like a broader question, intended for the interview stage. But asking employees about their professional pursuits helps them keep their eye on the L&D prize. It re-centers them in many respects, as they re-evaluate why they’re participating in online training, and what they need to do to improve.

For example, they’re determined to make it to the managerial level next year. But that requires hard work, tuned skills, and experiential knowledge. Which means more active involvement to enhance employee engagement in online training.

3. What do you dislike most about online training?

Even the most motivated and driven employee dislikes something about online training. Whether it’s long presentations, compliance assessments or lack of social interaction, getting them to open up on their least favorite part of the L&D process sheds light on organizational areas for improvement.

These are the kinds of things you should evaluate regarding your eLearning course design or overall approach. But it can also clear the air and some of the mental roadblocks that prevent employees from engaging. For example, they’re now aware that they dislike competing with their peers. So they can opt for eLearning badges or point-based online training activities instead of ones that involve leaderboards.

4. Is there a skill or talent you feel is underused in the workplace?

Everyone has a talent or ability they never even knew they possessed. But there are also other skills that have already been revealed which are simply underutilized. This question helps your organization tap into hidden talents and enables employees to build their strengths.

For example, there may be certain training resources they can use to build skills that aren’t related to their job title. This will give them the opportunity to cross-train, and potentially land a promotion in the near future.

How to enhance employee engagement in training with 8 questions

5. If you were the CEO, what would be your organization’s mission statement?

It seems like a fun hypothetical question, but it has the power to strengthen your corporate learning culture and make employees more involved. By asking them to imagine they are the CEO, you can find out what employees would like to change about the organization and what improvements they would make if they were given the chance. You can use these insights to boost your online training strategy and then use your employees’ vision, too, to fine-tune your organization structure.

6. Are there any activities you’d like to see in your next online training course?

This question helps you address the issue of personal and learning preferences, as well as disclose topics that may be missing from your existing online training strategy. For example, certain employees may like to participate in more serious games or online training simulations to improve real-world application.

Another benefit of inquiring about training activities is showcasing the training resources you do have that corporate learners have overlooked. For example, podcasts or video demos that employees didn’t even realize were in the microlearning online training library.
If they do mention any activities that are already available, point them in the right direction and offer personalized recommendations. In addition, welcome them to peruse the training repository to see if there are any resources that fit their purposes with a bit of lateral thinking. Some could be, for instance, online training resources that center on related skills or cover the topic within a different context.

7. How do you define success?

This is another broad question that can shed light on employee motivations and their feelings about the online training course. Everyone has a different definition of success. While some are focused on finding a career that’s personally rewarding, others want to climb up the corporate ladder and earn a higher salary.

Find out what prompts them to actively participate in online training and why. This way you’ll be able to custom tailor the online training content to suit their training needs. For example, you can incorporate badges into your gamification strategy for those who require recognition.

8. Are there any personal areas for improvement you’d like to work on?

Many of these questions touch on personal pain points. But this one targets the issue directly and prompts corporate learners to evaluate their areas for improvement. Then they can focus on skill, knowledge, or performance gaps during their online training. In addition, some employees may be under the impression that online training isn’t about personal growth. It’s meant to merely achieve the training objectives.

This question opens them up to the idea that your organization cares about their professional development. And that you want to give them the opportunity to build their skills and talents autonomously.

Over to you

Employee engagement ensures that every member of your organization takes part in the training goals. Icebreaker questions can get the mental gears turning and encourage self-evaluation and reflection. Now, it’s time to put your knowledge into good use. So, what questions will you be asking your employees?


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