4. September 2018

Last time we got to know Sam who was motivated to learn more about photography and how to use his reflex camera to its full potential. His interest in the topic kept him motivated. He started as a learner and became a “teacher”, who explained and shared his experience and knowledge with others.

What about topics one is not interested in learning, but one’s work requires to know it? How to motivate oneself for this?

Let’s get back to Sam:

In his work as an architect, Sam has been struggling with the digital transformation. He has been using the same tools to sketch his projects for years, but now there are several new software tools and programs that are digitalizing his work. Sam has never liked IT or anything related to this topic, so he has been putting off this subject for a long time. However, last week, his boss told him that it’s time for the office to become digitalized. Many other architectural offices are doing so and they have to keep up – which means that it’s time for Sam to start learning.

Many companies struggle with this problem: the digital transformation is changing the way people work and they need their employees to learn something they might not be interested in. As we know for ourselves: no interest, no motivation. This makes online training and self-learning quite difficult, because no one voluntarily learns something they actually don’t like. There is the possibility to offer face-to-face seminars which the employees have to attend. However, the learnings of these seminars might be forgotten quickly. So how can we solve this motivational “problem”?

First, it’s important to get the attention and awareness of the target group about the relevance of the learning content for their work. Three questions are helpful in this case:

  1. WHY is the learning content relevant?
  2. HOW can I apply it in my daily work?
  3. WHAT’s in it for me?

Once all three questions are answered, the employee knows how the work can become more efficient through the new learnings and this is a good motivational start.

To keep the motivation level high and to encourage the employees to learn by themselves is the second step: this can be achieved by using gamified elements in the learning environment. Giving the employees a “mission” they have to complete by working through different modules or having a ranking of the employees who achieve their daily learning goals encourages other employees to keep learning as well – like this, motivated employees can act as role models for others.

Another feature that might help is to deliver the learning content in short learning nuggets. Nowadays, almost no one can concentrate on something for long and this is even more the case when the content is not of one’s interest. Having short modules of 3-5 minutes motivates the employees, as they also get the feeling that they have achieved a goal after completing it. For me, it’s just like reading a book which has short chapters – by the end of each chapter, I feel as if I have “achieved” something and the probability for me to say “the next chapter is quite short, why not keep reading?” is higher.

There are many ways to motivate the employees to learn. Depending on the target group and personal learning preferences, videos or pictures can also make the learning experience of a subject more interesting. Every company should know how their employees prefer to learn and offer the learning content accordingly.

As for Sam’s learning journey:

He knew he would not be able to motivate himself to learn the new software by himself, so he started a face-to-face seminar on this topic. Like this, he had a trainer who showed him how to use the features of the program with concrete examples. After three days of training, Sam found an app that helped him in his learning journey. Every day, the app gave him tasks to be solved using the software. If Sam was able to solve the task the same day, he got coins with which he got some special offers at selected stores. Like this, Sam was motivated to solve the tasks and he quickly learned how to use the program well. Now, he even enjoys working with the new software as it makes his work faster and more efficient.


Stephanie Meyersieck
schreibt für den perspektive3 Blog. Ihre Spezialgebiete sind Kulturen, Sprachen und Kommunikation. Gerade lernt sie vieles über das Lernen und ist begeistert von den verschiedensten und neuartigen Methoden, die es in diesem Gebiet gibt.