Every year, new technological advances put higher demands on workers. Being a successful professional today means making sure you are familiar with a wide range of technology and software platforms, many of which go from unknown to global in a second. For businesses, this advancement means a significant investment in employee training must occur to keep their employees up to date in the latest skills and software.
In 2020, we’ve seen workforces quickly progress to online and remote working. This means all businesses need to be prepared for challenges that come with it. There are many ways that remote working can affect businesses, but how does it affect how you train your staff? And how can you do it effectively?
Pros of online training
Significantly, online training overcomes all geographical obstacles. This has been particularly important in recent years. Online training allows businesses to bridge the gaps between home-based employees and people in the field, and given the growing globalisation of the economy, online training has become the go-to delivery method for businesses that want to employ the best staff to keep ahead of the competition.
Online training has many benefits for your business:
- Easy tracking and assessments: Most online learning software allows you to track where employees are at with their training. This makes it easy to see which employees have completed each activity or session. Built-in assessments or quizzes are also easily accessible by all employees, and results can be given immediately.
- Consistent delivery of messages: As training completed online is often pre-recorded or easily accessible by all employees, the messaging will be consistent. This is essential when looking at training for new employees. Online training makes it easy to update your learnings when company policies change, giving all employees access to the same material.
- Financial savings: Depending on the type of training you deliver, the cost savings can make a significant impact. By creating an online learning portal, you are effectively paying someone to create a training plan or curriculum once. This can then be used repetitively by all employees over the years. Comparing this to the cost of hiring trainers to carry out multiple one-day training programs, its easy to see that an online learning environment will create substantial financial savings.
- Flexibility: Online training is the most flexible option for your business. If you choose to have an online learning program, employees can decide when and where they access the training. Employees can also revisit areas of the training if they feel necessary. Online training programs also have the flexibility to be updated when new company policies come into play, helping employees keep up-to-date on updates from anywhere in the world.
- Communication: As technology continues to advance, online discussions have become simpler, quicker, and more accessible. Sharing information and learning experiences through online forums and social media channels means that support and peer-to-peer learning can generate immediate feedback. This saves time for those in management roles and builds a sense of connection and community in your team.
Cons of online training
While there are many advantages to online training, it can also be argued that there are just as many disadvantages. These are typically identified as:
- Lack of in-person verbal communication
- Lack of social interaction
- Lack of trust established through personal interaction
- Creates cultural mishaps
- Kills team spirit
If a business depends solely on online training to achieve business goals, we can predict that over time, participation will decrease. After all, employees can only log in, watch videos, and respond to online discussions for so long before they feel disconnected. Technology provides the opportunity to develop connections, but it can never replace the impact of face-to-face communication. Some other cons of online training may be:
- Technological limitations: Not all businesses are equipped with the right technology to carry out training online. A lack of budget can make it challenging to implement new training programs, and some companies may find it easier to stick with traditional methods. Virtual glitches can also cause issues with online training programs, leaving employees frustrated and annoyed. This could reduce the amount of focus and effort employees put into their training, making the training redundant. Certain types of training are also suited for real-world environments, such as those that rely on a high level of direction, or hands-on skill development. In this case, the technology available may not be appropriate for the training, and in-person training may be more effective .
- Short attention spans: When using a computer, many people are programmed to multi-task. This may result in skimming articles or watching educational videos that turn into background noise while they complete another project. This is usually apparent with more extended training programs. By keeping your training short and simple, your business may overcome this problem.
- Lack of communication: Some employees may begin to feel lost in online training with no one to turn to. Many employees feel the need to ask questions throughout training so that they can understand fully. With online training, this is not always immediately available. While online communication allows employees to ask questions simply, they may not get an immediate answer to their problem.
- Unable to tailor training to learning styles: All employees will have varying learning styles. While many industries rely heavily on technology and employees that are well-versed in its use, it is unlikely that everyone will adapt to online learning. You may have employees who feel that online learning is a daunting task. This may not only be from what they are learning, but understanding the software they must use to learn. It may take time to get employees used to the software, which could cost your business time and money.
How to tailor online training to your business
When creating an online training program, you must consider the pros and the cons before diving into the world of online learning. To make the most of online training, you should try to incorporate in-person sessions for discussion or activities that would be best suited to group settings. This may mean dividing training sessions into parts to accommodate schedules.
With online training, you can avoid in-person contact. However, until the world becomes fully automatic and free from the need for human interaction, there must be a middle ground between online and in-person training programs. Businesses should use online training for its strengths, while overcoming its weaknesses through in-person training. This will create a holistic approach to your business’s employee training program.