Posted on 8/15/2019 by Amy ODonnell.

Picture of SAP learners It’s one of the conundrums of modern life—people need to take additional training, but they say they don’t have time to take the training. They want to advance in their careers, but they’re too busy working and taking care of everything else in life to get to it. Even with the advent of online learning—taking coursework in short-term pieces instead of years-long commitments to degree programs—employees are still having a difficult time getting to training.

Additionally, you may have people in your organization that are reluctant to take employee training. They may not understand why it’s necessary, see it as a waste of time, or are just reluctant to step out of their “comfort zone” and learn something new.

Many educators believe that offering rewards to your employees can be an incentive to not only find time, but finish and continue with more learning. But reward systems can sometimes backfire, and eventually fail when students come to expect something specific in return just for finishing a course. So how do you motivate and reward learners and keep them going?

Workplace learning benefits both the employee and the company, but only if everyone understands and takes advantage of the opportunities.  

Motivation And Relevancy

Of course, the first question is why your employees need this training. Most often, the training is for a new process or function that’s being implemented.

Ask yourself why you are presenting this training to your employees. Figure out your purpose and motivation. Why do they need it? Does it align with the company’s values? How will it benefit your employees, as well as the company?

Training should have a specific purpose, one that works for the company as well as offers your employees a benefit from taking it. Make sure that it’s not just offered as a “feel-good” incentive, but something that’s useful to everyone involved. Once you discover the relevance and benefit, your employees will likely be more interested in the material, and more likely to dive in.

Real World Applications

If your company is implementing a new software such as  S4/HANA, your employees may be feeling reluctant to get on board. But implementing new software is more than just updating—it could be your company needs to get a better handle on a vital process, like vendor management.

Bringing in S4/HANA may be the tool that makes everyone’s job easier, especially if it replaces a previous system that isn’t working as well. S4/HANA training is where they’ll be able to learn the system and get up to speed quickly, without a lot of unnecessary information. They’ll be able to begin using it hands-on right away. They may be required to complete project that are out of their “comfort zone”—but completing those exercises are how they’ll learn and understand better. Once the employees involved complete the training, they’ll be ready to get started and appreciate the time invested. Some may even wonder why they waited so long.

Why It’s Valuable For Your Employees

Training should also focus on the participants, and why it’s valuable for them. Answer their question, “what’s in it for me?”  In the case of S4/HANA, it’s a number of things, including:

  • Better understanding of processes
  • Increased productivity and efficiency in the job
  • Decreases in errors and costs
  • Increases in SAP job skills, SAP career opportunities, and everything that goes with it
  • Potential for advancement and future career prospects
  • Improvements in morale and empowerment

When discussing the training, emphasize that it’s also for their own learning, not just for the company’s benefit, and should be an important goal for the organization. Show that the benefits for them are both immediate as well as long-term, especially in terms of long-term SAP career goals.

Goal Setting

One of the reasons some employees become frustrated at work is the lack of advancement opportunities or opportunities to develop and further their skills. Offering them a chance to develop and improve their skills, and the possibility of career advancement, gives employees a goal to work toward. It also shows that the company values and respects them as contributors and partners in the company’s growth as well as their own.  

Pointing out the real-world knowledge and application, rather than just facts, figures and theories, is important to show the real benefit. Adult students prefer understanding of the use of the training over simply listening to more facts and figures. When employees acquire practical skills from this training, they can realize and understand more of the value in what’s being taught.  Completing “stretch goals” through training is also another goal that’s attainable, as well as helping with understanding the material.

Peer Assistance/Validation and Mentoring

Another idea is to get employees together in informal groupings to encourage and foster learning. As we mentioned in a previous blog post, social learning is a powerful way for people to learn a new skill, such as SAP skills, and master it.

Encouraging peers to help each other not only fosters collaboration, it helps everyone learn the subject matter. For those who are having difficulties with parts of the material, getting them together with others who already know it helps both parties.

Mentoring can also offer an employee learner individual coaching as well as growth opportunities. Mentors can also offer some informal guidance on an employee’s learning, growth and development in the company, as well as help with more difficult parts of the training, if needed.

Finding the right mentor for an employee can become a challenge in itself. But once the right connection is made, an employee can have a place to speak freely and ask questions about their growth and learning.

Reward Successes: Gold Stars Are Over

Rewarding employee learning should be good, but not too good. In other words, big accomplishments (such as completing a degree as part of an employee benefits program) are worthy of big rewards. But offering smaller rewards to your employees who complete and continue training can eventually motivate employees continue their learning and development on the job.

Promote the training and show how it can help them immediately, right now, on their job. Show how it can also positively impact their future career goals, as well as benefit the company. These are rewards in and of themselves, but a little something is also a nice reward.  

Small things, like gift cards for Starbucks, are something to consider, at least for first-time learners who complete their training. But a combination of both financial rewards as well as intrinsic rewards can also motivate employees. A successful student will also have a sense of achievement when they begin to use their new skills in the workplace, or see opportunities to advance to a new position in the company.

As Part Of Performance Reviews

This doesn’t mean the mandatory training for things like cybersecurity, ethics, and other company-specific topics that are part of the job. This is about upgrading one’s skill set, whether it’s for a new software (like SAP), new processes, or other vital skills. Additional skills training can also be tied to performance reviews, as a reminder to keep skills updated and demonstrate the potential for career advancement. 

Encouraging your employees to take charge of their learning makes it a goal. It also reinforces the idea that they own it, rather than just something else on a yearly checklist they have to do. Giving employees more choices in when and where they can take the training is also motivating (as long as they remember to schedule the time to do it.)

Conversely, an employee who declines employee training can have a note on their performance reviews as a motivator to take training and improve or upgrade their skills. Employees who continuously turn down opportunities to advance their learning and skills may eventually not have the advancements that others have. Eventually, they will see the benefit and realize what they’re missing.

Do You Need More Employees With SAP?

Michael Management has helped more than 300,000 people find their new career in SAP. If your company needs more SAP-savvy employees, we can help.  Contact us today to find out how you and your employees can learn SAP quickly.


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Amy O'Donnell is a staff writer at Michael Management and curates various blog topics. An experienced writer with expertise ranging from writing web copy, blogs, and articles to white papers and case studies, Amy enjoys writing about food on her personal blog the most.