As an online training provider we speak to a lot of companies who are trying to work out what is the best way to train their staff. In some situations the training need dictates the training type, i.e. forklift operation training probably requires an instructor lead face to face approach. Whereas software and programme training can realistically be done in an online or e-learning format. The big question L&D Managers or those responsible for training have to answer is:
Where there are multiple ways a certain skill can be trained, which do you choose for staff?
I clearly write this with a certain bias as Filtered is an online learning provider, so instead of trying to convince anyone that online is better than face to face (an argument that could go on for a long time) I am going to outline 5 ways in which the companies we work with have made the most out of their online training.
1. Allocate time for online/e-learning like you would do for face to face training
This one sounds simple but is something many companies don’t think to do. They buy an online or e-learning training package, tell everyone it is available and are then surprised when very few people use it. A sad fact of life for many L&D departments (and training companies alike) is that training is not a priority for most people against day to day tasks. By treating online training like a face to face course, and allocating a certain number of hours each week for staff to learn, you will see engagement rates rise. If you have the resource, then allocate computer/training rooms for this time so that an individual can get away from the distractions at their desk and focus on their course for a set period of time.
2. Utilise Line Managers and tie online training goals to appraisals
The point above might sound good in principle but how are you going to ensure that staff use the time allocated for online training appropriately? Get line managers involved and tie the training to the appraisal system. If you, as a company, are going to pay for training, then why let it get ignored? Most Learning Management Systems (LMS) and indeed the Filtered Company Dashboard allow the option to track and monitor progress that staff are making. Empower line managers with these tools and get them to include online training as part of their appraisals.
3. Add an element of competition
A lot of people are naturally competitive. Capitalise on this by introducing an element of competition in your online learning. A few ideas are:
- Most Improved
- First to finish
- Most completed by a specific date
- Top score
Include prizes as an added incentive, for example half a day’s holiday, retail vouchers, or anything that will motivate staff to get the training done. You might think that this option is a bit gimmicky, but some companies make this work really well. Even for those not bothered about competing, it does create a buzz around the online learning across the team, department, or office.
NB: This image has a very loose link to the content in this article. Howvever, it made me chuckle.
4. Work through the content as a team
One firm we worked with last year found that a collaborative approach to training worked really well. They were a team of around 10 people and they sat together and worked through their online Excel course. The benefits they found were:
- If someone in the group struggled to grasp a concept, then they were able to ask their peers for help.
- As a group they could start to apply some best practice of what they had learned to their existing spreadsheets.
- They had an allocated timeslot to work through their course.
5. Take a blended approach
Don’t assume that, when you start using online training for a particular skill, that face to face training is then gone forever. Whilst we at Filtered believe that online training is fantastic we also take the pragmatic view that it will not work for everyone in every scenario. Firms we currently work with use our online Excel training to complement occasional face to face sessions. For example, you might have some very specific and complex spreadsheets that are used by the company that you want an in house expert to train new starters on. However, to use these spreadsheets a certain amount of assumed knowledge is required. You get the staff to complete the online learning ahead of the internal training so they can all hit the ground running for the important internal session.
In conclusion, switching from face to face training to online does create a new challenge for L&D departments and Managers alike – engagement. But there definitely are things you can do as a company to make sure staff get the most out of their training. The above is by no means an exhaustive list but it will hopefully point you in the right direction.