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With COVID-19 ushering in a “new normal” in the workplace, the importance and understanding of employee engagement is at an all-time high.

Companies with high employee engagement have consistently scored better than their counterparts.

Although not a new concept, awareness of Employee Engagement is still minimal and is limited to very specific circles. In this white paper, we will: define employee engagement; explain why it is more crucial than ever; and analyse why it is relatively unknown in Japan.

The importance of engagement in companies has increased greatly in recent years, but it is still relatively unknown in Japan. We hope this article helps you determine actions to increase your team’s engagement.

What is Employee Engagement?

Employee engagement is a state of willingness to contribute to the company beyond normal expectations. With Millennials and GenZ slowly becoming the dominant members of the workforce, the incentives and work conditions that are expected from the new wave of laborers have changed. Sadly, many employers have failed to understand the demands of this new workforce and have yet to create new incentive structures and policies that speak to their needs.

Engaged employees are willing to put effort into their work and feel enthusiastic, proud, and inspired in their jobs. For them, time at work passes quickly. The generally accepted definition of engagement is possession of a “positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind that is characterized by vigour, dedication, and absorption.”

Employee engagement is attracting attention in Japan due to greater emphasis on individual values and the diversification of employment styles through work-style reforms. More and more young people are looking for job satisfaction and enjoying work-related activities.

[Reference] “Incentive Programs That Motivate Millennial Employees”


Employment with Meaning

Current employees need and want to understand the purpose and meaning of their work.

They shun the mindset prevalent among their predecessors of being satisfied with being a minor cog in a greater system. Employees seek less acknowledgement for their work but wish to see the results of their labor. Alienation in this situation is the enemy of employee engagement.

Alienation is the result of company leaders’ lack of transparency and a misunderstanding and/or lack of shared values, strategic direction, and the reasoning of the leaders and their employments.

To avoid alienation, one need to be self-aware, inspiring, and providing the right culture that allows empathy to naturally flourish in the organization. Employees do not need to emulate their leaders, but they need to align their values to some level with the organization.

Thus, a leader’s role is to make sure that the motivation of the employees and the organization is aligned. A simple tool in aiding this alignment is engagement surveys, which can be used to sense the pulse of the organization and format the goals and priorities listen in them the organization’s greater vision.

Employee Engagement in Japan

According to Gallup, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged at work. In Japan, the figure is slightly better, with 35% of employees engaged. This score may be influenced by the tendency of people to choose intermediate answers. Still, many employees may not fully sympathize with the company‘s policies and strategies and may do mostly what they are told.

Benefits of Employee Engagement

Over the past decade…

Download a free white paper to learn about the benefits of employee engagement and tools to increase it

Engagement pic


This white paper uncovers the specific things that organizations need to do to effectively engage their workforce.

Building a more inclusive workplace through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) is about developing a culture where we can leverage our differences and avoid risks, especially in multicultural groups. At Prospera Training Solutions, we strongly believe in the business case for diversity, equity, and inclusion, not just because it is advantageous, but because it is the right thing to do.

Even if employees speak the same language, they face different perceptions caused by individual differences and cultural backgrounds. As a result, diverse organizations face increased challenges due to communication and cultural differences.

By supporting and promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace, companies are discovering that they are gaining benefits in business performance, innovation, and engagement. However, even industry-leading organizations also encounter higher levels of misunderstandings and miscommunications caused by cultural differences.

When planning to achieve higher levels of diversity, it is important to find ways to incorporate more women and other under-represented groups in management positions, and also adequately prepare workplaces to welcome people with disabilities. Each organization’s needs are different, so there is no one-fits-all solution. Instead, we propose to start with this basic first step: self- and another-awareness based on these action items:

  1. Help employees – especially managers – become more aware of how unconscious biases could lead to exclusion.
  2. Provide teams with a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities of working across cultures.
  3. Understand how to communicate effectively while avoiding common misunderstandings among people from different backgrounds.
  4. Raise confidence when discussing and addressing problems in a multicultural team.
  5. Find ways to enhance an inclusiveness mindset and culture in the workplace.

Our Facilitation Dynamics

Prospera Training Solutions facilitates our DEI training programs by driving discussions and guiding participants. We do not lecture. Instead, we provide the tools and discussions so that teams can self-discover the best way forward. This approach allows participants to assume responsibility for their own learning experience, ensuring interactive learner-centered and problem-based learning, while dealing with a highly-sensitive topic.

What are the Benefits?

With our DEI module, we help teams:

  • Become aware of how unconscious biases could lead to exclusive behaviors and microaggressions.
  • Facilitate positive intergroup interaction, reduce prejudice, and eliminate discrimination.
  • Enhance the knowledge of cultural differences, from country norms to identity.
  • Enable continued improvement to make diversity, equity, and inclusion part of every major workforce initiative in a way that strengthens corporate social responsibility (CSR).

Participants also achieve self-developmental goals including:

  • Work better with people with different abilities, backgrounds, nationalities, genders, and sexual orientations.
  • Become more inclusive of all types of employees and understand the benefits of doing so.
  • Describe the actions needed to create a greater sense of belonging for everyone.

If you are developing solutions aimed at making your workplace more inclusive, our Unconscious Bias and Diversity e-learning course offers an effective way to cover sensitive topics with a mindful, yet entertaining, approach.

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Learn more about Unconscious Bias & Diversity Essentials


Our Unconscious Bias and Diversity course includes:

  • Inclusive Leadership 
  • Respect and Inclusion at Work 
  • Thinking of Others 
  • Unconscious Bias 
  • Workplace Diversity


  • Allocating roles
  • Listen out for all voices
  • Maintaining harmony and dignity 
  • One person’s banter is another person’s bullying
  • Inclusion means celebrating diversity not ignoring it
  • Look for your customer’s unique needs
  • Events and logistics
  • An introduction to unconscious bias
  • Being busy or bothered beefs up the bias
  • Overcoming unconscious bias
  • Find out about people – don’t even try to guess
  • Neurodiversity 
  • Think beyond the binary
  • Trans awareness

▶Watch an exclusive video interview with DEI Matter Expert Femi Otitoju

Screenshot 2021 06 02 144037

Femi Otitoju is a nationally recognised diversity and inclusion specialist in the field of organisational development. Femi founded Challenge Consultancy in 1985 to provide high quality, effective training and consulting services. With a strong reputation for getting results in the higher education sector, Femi is much sought after as a speaker for conferences and events as well as for her training and consultancy work. 

Contact us today for more information on how to continue developing a culture of respect and inclusion at your organization.

About the Author

alberto sanz

Alberto Sanz

Senior Manager, Innovative Solutions and Design

With 20 years of experience in business development and consulting, Alberto helps organizations create efficient environments to facilitate change and innovation.

He is a Master Certified Consultant in Astrolabe Change System and a Co-Society Innovation Network representative in Japan.

The objective of e-learning is to help people perform better to increase organizational performance. With that goal in mind, here are 6 e-learning trends, their advantages, disadvantages, and how this can apply to your organization.

1. Microlearning

Microlearning consists of short, bite-sized learning segments. Our definition of microlearning is one small, distinct learning objective per course. Microlearning can be delivered as content, videos, small games, quizzes, infographics, or a mix of all.

The advantages of microlearning are that it is easy to retain the information since they are bite-sized segments instead of one long course. It can save time as the learner is able to access exactly what they need without sifting through learning content that they do not need to get to what they need. It is a great way to provide relevant information in small batches that best suits the needs of an employee. And it pairs exceptionally well with mobile learning. Learners can access courses anywhere and when the time is most convenient.

The biggest disadvantage of microlearning is that it is difficult to cover broad topic areas. For instance, communication skills is a broad topic as it covers written and oral communication skills and a wide range of topics including listening skills, non-verbal communication skills, and knowing your audience to deliver clear messages.

If you deliver microlearning courses, you will want to make sure that you offer a large set of courses, so that you are providing a broad and deep learning experience. With the example of communication skills, this might mean that you are offering 40+ microlearning courses to cover the overall topic of communication skills.

2. Mobile Learning

Mobile learning is an easy and convenient way to access learning content using any handheld device. Learners access courses on a handheld device like their phone or tablet, wherever and whenever is desired. Research shows that mobile learning has higher completion rates than standard e-learning courses and they complete the courses in less time from the time the course is assigned to when it is completed. You are accommodating your learners’ busy schedules by offering the flexibility to take courses wherever they are when it suits their schedules.

There can be some disadvantages to mobile learning. One disadvantage of mobile learning is the risk of distracted learning. For instance, learners may be taking a course in a coffee shop and can be easily distracted. Distracted learning can negatively impact learning retention. There may be possible information security issues. You may not want company confidential information to be delivered via mobile learning given the risk of eavesdropping. Additionally, connection issues may impact learners’ ability to access and complete courses.

3. Video Learning

Video combines visual and auditory learning in a single online tool. This makes video one of the most engaging e-learning tools available.

What makes video great is that it captures attention immediately and it can get your point across without lengthy paragraphs that tend to make readers inattentive. You can visually demonstrate complex tasks and it is far more effective and powerful than written instructions. It can deliver short, intensive bursts of information that can capture a learning situation, which can be comprehended in less time than it would take to read course content.

There are some disadvantages both when creating the videos as well as when delivering video-based learning to your learners. Creating videos can take longer because you must write the script, hire actors, shoot the video, edit the video, and then create the course. In addition, it is often considerably more expensive to update the course for the same set of reasons. The course can take longer to load, and learners who do not have a good internet connection may have difficulty completing the course.

To minimize the disadvantages of video, keep your video segments short and pertinent to the point you are trying to make in the course. You don’t need to add too much information like definitions, background information, and other supporting information into the video.

4. Editable Courseware

Editable Courseware is off-the-shelf courseware that you can customize yourself. For instance, clients can customize or edit off-the-shelf courseware in ways such as:

  • Swapping the vendor’s logo with their own logo
  • Swapping the vendor’s color scheme with their own company’s color scheme
  • Adding links to a company policy or company form
  • Adding a video with a message from senior management

The key benefit is having courses that look like the company created them, without the time and expense of custom-built courseware. It is possible to gain the benefits of off-the-shelf e-learning courseware combined with the benefits of custom content at a fraction of the cost with fast implementation. The only real disadvantage of editable courseware is keeping it up to date. This disadvantage remains if you create your own courseware as well.

5. On-the-job Learning

Research shows that much of the employee’s development can occur with informal, on-the-job training. Virtually all workplace learning outside formal programs should be structured and managed. In doing this, the Human Resource Development (HRD) profession can make a significant step forward in recasting its role and increasing its reach in improving individual, group, and organizational performance.

As the saying goes, practice makes perfect! The same is true with on-the-job skills and competencies. No one is great at giving someone corrective feedback simply by going through a course or a workshop. They need to practice giving someone corrective feedback. With practice, that person will develop and improve their skills. Companies that offer their learners the ability to develop on-the-job have a significantly higher return on investment (ROI) on their training budget.

The main disadvantage is that it can be difficult to measure the effectiveness of the learning or the development. There isn’t a quiz at the end of the practice session. In our example above about giving corrective feedback, most people are not going to ask the person who they just gave corrective feedback on for an evaluation. Instead, here are a few ways to measure the improvement in on-the-job performance:

  • Performance review data: compare data over time
  • 360-degree assessment: ask peers and team members if the learner improved in the performance areas over time
  • Observation: an example is customer service where calls are recorded – you can listen to calls before the training and again after the training to evaluate if there is an improvement

6. Gamification

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts to engage learners. Examples of gamification are scoring points for correct answers on quizzes, creating virtual badges, prizes, competitions, and similar activities in order to keep employees engaged and motivated.

An advantage of gamification is that it is a different way to engage learners. It makes learning fun by using the characteristics of a game to get the content across.

A disadvantage of using gamification is that it can incentivize winning over the learning objective of the course. Winning vs learning. So instead of retaining the information, a learner just wants to win.

Using gamification just to make the course more engaging and fun is great, but make sure that it is always related to the learning objectives.

These 6 trends compose an excellent sign of where e-learning is headed. Staying current with technology is key. The trends are focused on driving learner engagement, learning retention, flexibility, and meeting learners where they are and how they want to learn. It is important to remember that the main focus of training and development is to improve learners’ performance, which leads to organizational improvement and favorable business results.

The term “wicked problems,” coined by Horst Rittel, a Design Theorist, refers to complex and multi-dimensional problems. Wicked problems became the heart and soul of design thinking development. The current framework for problem-solving was just not enough.

Introducing design thinking: a methodology for solving the most complicated and stifling problems your business encounters.

Design thinking is a creative problem-solving tool that can be applied in a variety of different situations. It is a non-linear pathway that pushes you to get to the root of an issue and come up with creative solutions.

Design thinking has five stages: EmpathizeDefineIdeatePrototype, and Test.

These stages can happen at the same time, out of order, or iterated in any combination.


The empathize stage is all about getting to know the users and their needs. This is the stage that makes design thinking human-centric. It involves observing, asking, and learning from your user. You must observe and engage to gain clarity of ill-defined problems.


Define is where you must define the problem. Take all the information you gathered about the user from the previous stage and make an actionable problem statement. This stage makes you narrowly define the problem to generate a high quantity of quality solutions. Think of this as the “sensemaking” stage.


Ideate is the stage where you and your team come up with as many ideas as possible. This is a generation stage, not evaluation. To come up with quality ideas, you must allow your creativity to run free – free of judgement.


In prototyping, you just pick up materials and start designing. The prototypes should be simple and cheap – fail fast, discover quicker.


Testing involves giving your user multiple prototypes and listen to feedback. This also allows for another empathy opportunity. Watching how the user interacts with the prototype can reveal more about their needs. Test stage could show you that the problem statement is wrong and bring you back to the define stage to better meet your user’s needs.

Design thinking arms you with a method to solving so called wicked problems. These ill-defined, debilitating problems can have detrimental effects on your business. Large companies like IBM, MassMutual, Infosys, Fidelity, and Intuit recognize and utilize design thinking. They see design thinking as a needed jolt to generate innovative ideas. So much so that each company has invested either in-house innovation labs or worked with firms to help them implement design thinking processes.

Design thinking can be utilized in a variety of businesses:

  • Apple – In a Big Think interview, Dave Evans discusses how he used design thinking when designing the computer mouse.
  • Tesla – Tesla participated in a design thinking innovation project. Elon Musk and his team wanted to make their electric car more suitable for daily life, so they engineered an electric car that would have a more realistic range of 220-310 miles and offered a charging adapter to fit common household outlet.
  • Airbnb – Airbnb used design thinking to turn around their failing startup.


The essence behind design thinking is the human-centric method. It combines creativity and user needs to come up with the solution to a problem that was not well defined to begin with.

For example, your company is having a hard time with internal career advancement. There are opportunities for employee development and promotion, but employees are leaving instead of advancing within the company. You assemble a team to investigate (empathize). You observe employees trying to navigate the employee portal and notice it’s not quite as intuitive as your design team had thought. You ask the employees what they’re thinking. They tell you they cannot find any kind of development opportunities or available promotions, so they believe they don’t exist.

You realize the problem to solve is a failing employee portal (define). The investigating team starts brainstorming solutions (ideate). They’ve come up with many ideas, some good, some bad. Then, you recruit the design team and start prototyping. The team members pick up a pen and paper and start designing a user-friendly home screen. After a while, there’s a rudimentary website (prototype). The prototypes are rolled out to the employees (test). Testing reveals that the search function is the most important aspect of the website (empathize and define).

You take this information and completely redesign the employee portal to make it more user-friendly with a superior search function. Employees are then better able to look up job-related training opportunities and there’s a better job board search function. You immediately notice higher retention rates.

You can apply design thinking to all types of problems that arise in the workplace. It is the perfect way to get to the bottom of a problem and come up with ideas that you may not have thought of. This is the power of design thinking. You can unlock your creative problem-solving potential to meet wicked problems with wicked solutions.