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Higher Education Best Practices Influence Corporate America

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Macmillan Employee
Macmillan Employee
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The importance of teaching and learning is nothing new to corporate America. Businesses have long known the value of educating their teams through learning and development departments. But there’s  more that businesses can learn from higher education including how to best retain top employee talent, how to make hybrid and online meetings and events more engaging and how to improve corporate training. 

At Macmillan Learning, we’ve worked with Fortune 500 companies to apply best practices from higher education in orderSteven Ray.png to improve their organizations. The following are three examples of how we’ve seen higher education influence and improve corporate America.

Student Retention and Engagement:

According to the latest data, adults who are both out of school and have some college with no degree account for up to 11% of the US population. That means more than one out of every ten adults started college, but didn’t finish. Universities are keenly focused on retaining their students year after year and ensuring that they graduate on time. That’s why universities use solutions like Skyfactor’s retention surveys to identify students who may be off track for on-time graduation so they can intervene early and get them back on track.

But higher education isn’t the only industry focused on retention. You may have heard of the “Great Resignation.”

Employers are as focused as ever on understanding what keeps their best employees motivated, engaged, and retained year after year. But experts have differing opinions. Willis Towers Watson says that “health and retirement benefits appear to be the tipping points.” A Harvard Business Review article cites “inertia” as the reason, noting an employee will stay until something forces them to leave. And the Workforce Learning Report from LinkedIn notes that organizations should prioritize enabling employees’ personal success through career development to retain employees; they say companies that excel at internal mobility retain employees for an average of 5.4 years (which is about twice as long as companies that say they struggle with retention).

The bottom line: there’s no one way to retain employees. The methods companies use to retain their top talent are as varied as, well, their employees. Through our own research, Macmillan Learning has learned that the factors that drive employee retention vary from organization to organization and can even change year to year.

In one case study, Macmillan Learning partnered with a Fortune 500 company to apply proven methods for retaining students in higher education toward helping retain top talent at the organization. The results were fascinating. We were able to use the same methodologies developed for higher education to identify the key factors that influence employee retention at the organization. We were then able to identify the employees most “at risk” of leaving the organization and offer suggestions for how the organization can improve the employee experience such that employees are more likely to stay–and ultimately thrive–at the organization. A year later we measured the efficacy of the changes the organization made and found that the organization successfully improved the key factors that were driving employee retention.

Through the case study we learned that the  methodologies used to retain students in higher education can be effectively used to improve employee retention and satisfaction. This bodes well for improving the overall employee experience and addressing the challenges of the “Great Resignation.”

Student Engagement Best Practices for Online and Hybrid Meetings:

As a result of COVID, institutions of learning were forced to pivot from in-person to completely online learning almost overnight. It’s no surprise that the move to online learning presented significant challenges. Among these challenges was how to keep students engaged in online learning. Educators were now teaching from home and often staring at faceless rectangles in Zoom where once they saw students in classroom chairs. Educators met this challenge by adopting classroom engagement solutions like iClicker to encourage student attendance and facilitate engagement in the classroom. Educators reported that these solutions greatly improved their ability to keep students engaged in online learning.

While educators were struggling to create an engaging online learning experience, corporate America was dealing with their own COVID challenges. Employees who once met in person to solve business problems were now working from home and meeting entirely online using the same video conferencing solution as higher education. The challenges were similar: meetings–especially large meetings–were less engaging and employees with cameras turned off became faceless participants.

It may not surprise you that the solutions that worked in higher education also worked for corporate meetings. Corporations looked to audience engagement solutions like iClicker to make meetings and events more engaging and effective. Meeting facilitators were able to poll their audience using advanced question types like short answer, word cloud, multiple-response and heat maps. Facilitators were also able to solicit anonymous feedback to encourage participation and honest responses. Meeting participants had a voice and felt more engaged in decision making. While online meetings and events may not have been the same as when they were in person, the online experience improved with the addition of audience engagement solutions and methodologies from higher education were once again able to help corporate America.

Active Learning Best Practices Used for Corporate Training:

We all know the importance of learning and development in corporate training. In fact, the Workforce Learning Report from LinkedIn I mentioned earlier notes that nearly three-fourths of L&D leaders agree that learning and development have become more influential within their organizations over the past year. We also know that passive learning–where students passively read, attend a lecture, or watch videos to learn–isn’t particularly effective. That’s why a fortune 100 company turned to Macmillan Learning to find out how they can make their corporate training more effective.

Macmillan Learning is currently piloting its iClicker student engagement solution to help this fortune 100 company make corporate training more engaging and effective. The company uses videos to train its employees but found that they needed a way to ensure that employees were engaging with the materials and measure how effectively they were grasping the materials. For over a decade iClicker has been solving this same problem for educators and was selected ahead of its competitors during a preliminary review because of its ease of use and reliability. Macmillan Learning was also able to point to how its own Learning and Development team uses iClicker to improve corporate training.

Using iClicker, the Fortune 100 company will be able to easily stop their training videos and ask formative assessment questions that will not only help the employees to better understand the materials but also track their progress and performance on the questions. The addition of iClicker will turn the video training from “passive” to “active” learning and based on education research promises to improve learning outcomes.

As you can see from the examples above, best practices in higher education are indeed influencing corporate America in ways that can improve employee retention, engagement, and learning outcomes. Corporations are learning that some of the challenges they face are not dissimilar from those faced in higher education and that heavily-researched solutions to help them solve their problems already exist. It’s exciting to see two worlds that I care deeply about blending and finding solutions to both old and new challenges. And we’re only scratching the surface of the problems we can solve together.