With the emergence of new cloud-based software platforms, training companies face the threat of being replaced by online versions, especially for knowledge based training. Large software companies like LinkedIn, with their acquisition of online learning company Lynda, are targeting the training market. As a result, traditional training companies must be frequently reinventing themselves to adapt to a market that is constantly evolving.
It’s not all doom and gloom however. On-site and in-person training still has a huge role to play, particularly for performance based training. But the challenge is to make sure that your offering stays relevant in the current market.
So where to start? We’ll get the ball rolling for you. We’ve reviewed the marketplace and talked with clients to develop a number of ways to improve training and development to enrich the learning process you offer.
How to improve training in the workplace?
1. Use of Technology for Greater Flexibility and Engagement
According to a report by IBIS Capital, 41.7% of the Fortune 500 companies -the most profitable in the world- use digital tools for their employees’ online training. It’s no wonder that it’s a strong trend, with companies moving to video solutions to save cost and increase flexibility. Smart training companies are starting to use technology to their advantage however. The advantages can help differentiate your service and allow you to meet a larger range of your customer’s needs:
• More Flexibility: many companies are becoming more unwilling to allow workers large amounts of time away from their desk for in-person training. Therefore you should look to integrate online aspects when you can, allowing employees to complete elements remotely in their own time. This adds flexibility for the client and can save on material and instructional cost and travel expenses.
• Tracking Performance: A training program is not effective unless the progress is tracked. With cloud-based software programs, you can evaluate progress during the learning process; reporting on attempts, result and completion times. Providing reports will allow customers to identify areas of weakness and provide targeted feedback to individual staff. “Constructive feedback is crucial to career development, employee satisfaction, employee retention and employee motivation,” explains Nancy Mobley, Founder and CEO of HR consultancy Insight Performance.
• Active participation: according to the Research Institute of America, employee retention with eLearning tools range from 25% to 60%, while face to face training is between 8% and 10%. By providing visually appealing and interactive content, your client’s employees’ motivation to complete the training courses increases, which, consequently, makes them retain the information better in the long term.
2. Create a Roadmap With Different Objectives
A training company has two parallel aims: helping the client achieve their goals – more productivity, increased sales, improved staff retention, etc – and enabling the client’s employees to meet their learning objectives – acquire new skills, understand general business concepts, learn the tasks of their new role, remain compliant with industry standards, etc. The success of a training company depends on your ability to meet both of these aims; properly instructing employees so that, with this knowledge acquisition, the needs of your client’s business are met.
In order for your client to be able to assess the benefits of hiring you, it is advisable to create a roadmap that specifies exactly the key points to be addressed by the training and what the real expectations for the program are, both in terms of business objectives and employee learning and development
Ask the client questions to help you customise your approach. What skills do you want each employee to learn? Can a department-wide training be done or is it better to personalize it? What should the worker contribute to the company after this learning process? The more information you have about each work team operations and the employee’s profiles, the more accurately you can make suggestions to improve training effectiveness and tailor the learning experience. In this way, you can identify the main gaps and focus on designing a program that solves them.
Your clients will be more comfortable and secure if they have a road map that indicates exactly what each employee will learn and how the business will benefit from it. This step requires a greater time investment during the preparation phase but is more than compensated by offering a better customer experience.
3. Gamification and Give Prizes as Incentive
Studies indicate that one out of three employees considers training content uninspiring and a barrier to learning. Dense and heavy content reduces employee concentration and retention, whilst material that awakens emotions helps employees connect and become more involved in their development.
You can complement theory with competitions, role-plays, tests, or interactive games related to the program. Presenting the training process as a game helps employees compete with greater motivation, leading to increased retention and absorption of learning material.
Awarding staff who get the best results promotes a company culture in which efforts are rewarded. This generates satisfaction and fulfilment for the most efficient and hardworking employees and serves as an incentive for the rest to raise their level and try to improve their performance.
Several years ago Cisco invested a lot of money into a social media training program to improve employees’ use of relevant network connections. The program –that included 46 different courses- could have seemed daunting and unattractive for staff to enrol in or to complete.
As a solution, Cisco introduced three levels of certification – Specialist, Strategist, and Master – to generate competition across the workforce to see who was performing better and who was able to scale levels the fastest. Following this implementation, more than 650 Cisco employees have been certified and have taken more than 13,000 courses. So the application of gamification is one of the most important ways to improve training and development.
4. Find an Adequate Balance of Information
Like much in life, the amount of content presented is a balancing act. Finding the right time balance can be one of the most challenging aspects of the training process preparation. Annette Thompson, Senior Vice President & Chief Learning Officer at Farmers Insurance, believes that “avoiding information overload is vital, organizations should strike a balance between giving the right information and giving too much.” So you must be meticulous in establishing the duration of the different training sequences and how much information you will give in each one of them.
Research suggests that between 15 and 30 minutes is the optimal time for a learning session, either face-to-face or e-learning; if that period is exceeded, the student begins to lose concentration and productivity decreases. Therefore, it is advisable to offer short and intense sessions that reveal enough new concepts and offer attractive elements that encourage the retention of information.
Writing learning material for training programs resembles the preparation of a marketing campaign: the key is how to formulate the material to engage the reader and get them to quickly retain the information.
5. Cross-Department Knowledge Sharing
The 24×7 Learning Workplace Learning report reveals that only 12% of employees apply day-to-day the skills they received during their job training. This surprising stat perhaps suggests that most workers do not receive enough context about the company to assimilate the information received and apply it to the specific tasks of their role on a daily basis.
This is an excellent opportunity for your training company to meet a priority need of your customers. Change the focus: in addition to designing courses solely for the needs of each employee, step back and try to look at the complete picture. Developing a partnership approach with your client can form the basis of a long term beneficial relationship. Start by trying to help them understand how various departments interact with each other, and how training can improve this.
Offering cross-departmental knowledge sharing is one of the most efficient ways to improve training and development; helping employees better understand what impact their day-to-day actions have in the company and in the different departments.
John Reh, a senior business executive with experience managing projects up to $125 million, believes that this methodology gives employees “awareness of (the) organization’s roles and functions”, which is “an opportunity to strengthen customer support with more knowledgeable employees”.
While it is true that managing the different areas of a company is a complicated task, the results end up compensating the effort made. Reh also explains that by applying this method, a training company offers more security and resources to its customers to solve any setbacks: “cross-training provides the necessary flexibility in managing a workforce, helping to make the organization less vulnerable to productivity losses due to an absent or departing employee as it might be otherwise.” By offering the possibility to exchange knowledge and experiences, each employee increases their individual skill set, which helps the company to function better as a cohesive whole and overcome any impediments that arise.
By reflecting and acting on the guidelines presented in this article, you can improve your training company performance. None of this is easy, but investing time and resources into making sure your business remains relevant will pay off in the long run.
At GoConqr we make it easier for training companies to create engaging learning content and distribute it easily and instantly. If you want to know more ways to improve training and development or are interested in some of the tools we have mentioned, do not hesitate to contact our team.