On average, Employees are subjected to 30+ changes per year.
Some of these changed are digital (program upgrades, new software, etc), and some are to processes or procedures (forms updates, new steps for customer support, etc). Some changes are “top of mind”, strategic changes for company advancement, or Tactical/Supporting changes that are low on the radar, and not closely managed.
No matter the type of change and the level of priority, every update, upgrade or “improvement” requires some form of training to bring the implementation from the “Deployment” stage to “Business Outcomes”.
There are three “buckets” for learning initiatives. Each one with its own unique pros and cons.
- Instructed Learning
- Virtual Learning
1. Instructed Learning
Example: On-site/Off-site Classroom Training
This training method is one of the most expensive methods for corporate learning.
Traditionally, Employees would be sent off-site to participate in complex, day or week-long courses. These courses would be designed to help the employees learn first-hand about new processed, procedures, sales or products. They would be in-depth and cover every aspect possible about the new system. These methods are typically referred to as “Guided Methods”
- Training is in-depth and covers all aspects of the implemented change.
- Trainers (Instructors) can monitor attendance and engage with employees “face-to-face”.
- Add’s a “personal” touch to training and allows employees to ask questions to the instructor while on site.
- Typically the most expensive option.
- Employers pay for on-site instructors or pay employees to travel and other expenses.
- Employees are only counted for attendance.
- Employees are presented with so so many lessons and concepts that they are apt to forget before applying them to the job.
- Adoption and understanding of concepts is not generally used, or easily monitored.
In Short: Instructed Learning is beneficial for training employees on key strategical changes being made within a company. This method is useful for training on Certificates or Compliance with Industry Standards. However, this method rarely allows for tracking and reporting on user adoption of techniques. It is not recommended to use for simple implementation of changes and should be used in conjunction with other training methods.
2. Virtual Learning
Example: Webinars, LMS/LMP, “How to” Videos
Virtual Learning allows Employees to learn about new changes being implements, on their own time. Companies benefit from this method since it is less expensive than On- or Off-site training, and the control (responsibility) is placed in the hands of the Employee. Typically, this method is used for Tactical or Supporting changes, which go “under the radar” and are seen as “user-friendly” or “low-priority” on training initiatives.
Generally what happens is employers request from the product supplier to host a Webinar, and give the employees an expectation that attendance is mandatory. They might also (or in place of the Webinar) ask the IT department to create a server to host manuals, procedure documents or checklists for employees to access “as needed”. How-to Videos widely used, nowadays, and are usually supplied by product suppliers. These are generally hosted on the Supplier’s website and available for consumption as the employees seek them out to help with the adoption of the change. For the reasons that it is usually the employees to have to seek-out learning, most “Virtual Learning” initiatives are considered “self-serve”, and the control is placed into the hands of the employee.
- Employees are given control of when to learn and what to learn.
- This method is less expensive than “Instructed Learning”.
- It allows employers to provide training to more employees.
- Attendance for Webinars are logged, but retention is not tested.
- It’s harder for Webinar Hosts to accurately see who is paying attention and who isn’t.
- LMS’s/LMP’s have very limited tracking in who utilized what training tools, and what their retention is.
- Self-Serve can be seen as “time-consuming” or “daunting” since the employee has to make all the effort to learn.
- Self-Serve is generally seen by employees as difficult to sort through and find the information that they need to be successful.
In Short: Although employees enjoy the fact that they are given supporting materials for their continued success, they will generally put off training if left to their own devices. Webinars and other Virtual Learning initiatives are beneficial because they allow Employees to learn or support their training on their own time, however, employees don’t tend to have much time available for training, let alone self-training. Employees might also worry that taking time for “Self-training” as an inefficient use of time, and might fear that their management will see it as a “waste of time” when they should be focused on making calls, finalizing sales, etc.
It is important that when using self-learning models, employees are encouraged and feel positively about taking advantage of the training and learning initiatives provided to them.
Examples: Short bursts of information delivered in a video and audio form.
New to the Corporate Learning world is “Micro-Learning”. This new method was developed because:
- Employees have less time available and allocated to learning.
- Traditional and Virtual training methods are costly and take large chunks of time to complete.
- Employees find it difficult to access self-serve learning and time consuming to find the information they need.
- Traditional and Virtual training methods provide little-to-no tracking of participation or retention of concepts.
There are between 10 and 20 current providers of micro or “e-“learning initiatives/databases, each with their own pros and cons. Generally speaking, though, employees do well with this method. Micro-learning provides employees with short “bursts” of information that is targeted to encourage learning on specific “need-to-know” topics.
The idea is to allow employees to access the materials on their own, “at times of need”, in an “easy to find” database of content. Most databases allow employees to bookmark or tag the content that they find relevant, and can search based on what they’re trying to use.
- Targeted towards employees who have consistently less and less time available or allocated to training.
- Focuses on delivering short bursts of knowledge that either supports complex training or provides tips, tricks, and shortcuts on stand-alone processes or systems.
- Generally less expensive than Instructed and Virtual learning techniques
- Content is available 24/7 for users to access and engage with continuous learning
- Not all Micro-Learning providers provide guided services to help employees focus on what they would truly benefit from.
- Typically, content is delivered on a “subscription” basis with little concern of what or how much content employees are actually benefiting from.
- Some options have very limited tracking and monitoring techniques to gauge employee engagement with the service.
- ROI can be hard to determine without proper tracking or methods for engagement and encouragement for continued success.
In Short: Micro-Learning provides employees with an opportunity to learn essential skills and information in a shorter amount of time. Micro-learning increases retention rate and accelerates user adoption. This “self-serve” approach is most often used but not effective. Campaign invites and progressive prompts to content make the process more user-friendly and effective.
Companies who use Micro-Learning should beware of “Self Serve Subscriptions”. Users tend to get overwhelmed easily when they utilize subscription-based services, and usage tends to nose-dive after the first month. Self-serve (self-directed) learning portals have historical participation of less than 10% in a corporate environment. If you think your subscription is $45/month/employee, the true cost is $450/employee when only 10% of the community uses it. When you do your cost calculations factor in the 12-month participation rate.
So what should you use?
Unfortunately, it depends firstly on whether the change being implemented is a Strategic, Tactical or a Supportive initiative. Secondly, it depends on the business objective and the time-frame of when you’d like the change to be adopted.
Basically, our suggestion is to never use only ONE method of learning, this is especially important for Strategic initiatives, or initiatives that should be adopted fairly quickly. Micro-learning is a great supporting aid for either Instructional or Virtual Learning programs that may be used.
For Tactical and Supporting changes that don’t need an adoption sooner than 2-3 months, an intuitive and guided micro-learning initiative would usually be sufficient, depending on the service’s available content, and their reporting features.
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