Adopting eLearning, settling on some employee training software, and deploying your own enterprise online courses are all big steps towards achieving more efficient, flexible and effective employee training for your organization.
As is true for most things in business and in life, however, eLearning doesn’t run very well on autopilot.
It might give you that impression, of course, as it’s much a more automated and hands-off affair compared to traditional classroom based training. But even so, it still needs you, or your instructors that will be operating the courses, to be on top of your employee training program to ensure employee participation and engagement — two things that are essential for its success.
In this article we’ll examine several ways to come up with an effective employee training plan that will increase employee participation and ensure that your employees complete online training courses inside your LMS portal.
1. Schedule properly
One of the main issues that might keep your employees from paying more attention to their eLearning is simply not having enough time.
If your employees have some important project deadlines to meet then they obviously will prefer to invest their time in meeting them instead of “wasting” time learning new skills they don’t immediately need. The same goes for overworked workers (e.g. due to increased seasonal workloads).
It’s not their fault; rather it is you and their managers that have to prioritize what’s important and what’s not, and schedule things like eLearning for the appropriate time when workloads are lighter.
In fact, it’s best that you allocate some time during the week that your employees are allowed to do eLearning — so that they don’t have to sit through their training after a full day’s work, or, worse, on their weekend. Unless, of course, they prefer that.
You should also ensure that their managers are sold on the importance of the company’s training program, and don’t try to rush employees back to work considering any time spent on their online training as “wasted”.
2. Embrace asynchronicity
Another common scheduling mistake when it comes to employee training, is having too many instructor-led-courses that have to happen in real-time, or insisting that your employees take an online lesson at a specific time.
One of the great advantages that eLearning has over classroom-based learning is its asynchronous nature. That is, the fact that learners can login and access their lessons at any time (and from any place).
For example, some of your employees might like studying from home or on weekends. Others might prefer accessing their lessons during their morning or evening commute. As long as they do access them, let them make up their own schedule and keep their own pace.
3. Set a deadline
Yeah, I know, we have just advised you to let your employees “make up their own schedule”.
And we still stand behind that advice: you should not try to micromanage your employees’ access to the LMS portal. But you should definitely give them specific deadlines for completing each of their course modules.
If you don’t, and only set a single far-off final deadline, then they’ll do what the average university student does: they’ll forget about the training program until the very end, and then haste to go complete it as the final deadline looms.
If you don’t want that, and you shouldn’t; it would be very ineffective in terms of knowledge assimilation, set a generous deadline for the completion of each module of your employee training program.
4. Get employees to relate to your training material
Blah blah blah blah blah.
That empty blathering is all that your employees will be able to read in their eLearning courses if you can’t get them to understand “what’s in it for them”.
In other words, to have an effective and engaging online employee training program you need to make your employees see that your course content is relevant to their work.
For this you’ll need two things.
First, the managers, and/or instructors need to set clear objectives for your training program, and communicate them successfully to your employees, while also touting their importance.
Second, the content should be to the point, with concrete examples relevant to your employees’ roles and experiences. Lengthy abstract theoretical passages should be edited out — your employees will only snooze over them anyway.
So, when it comes to effective eLearning content, keep it simple, keep it short and keep it relevant. And then sell the heck out of it to your employees, until they are convinced of that the new skills you’re trying to teach will prove important in their everyday work, not to mention their career advancement.
5. Encourage participation
Sure, you can always yell at them for not completing their training. It won’t help, but it might make you feel better.
But before it gets to that, how about trying some positive encouragement first?
You could, for example, give an extra day off to people who have completed a particular course or course module. Or give a bonus to those who had the best training results. Or maybe just praise your best learners openly, in a company wide email or within earshot of the other employees.
There are may ways you can go about it, including a virtual way, which we’ll describe in the very next tip, but the main goal remains the same: you want to make employees feel that increased participation in the company’s eLearning program is something that will be appreciated by upper management.
6. Let the games begin
Adding an element of play is another sure-fire way of making any process more fun and engaging.
In web based employee training software, or any other kind of software for that matter, this can be achieved through a technique known as “gamification”.
Increasingly popular in eLearning and even more so in mLearning, gamification refers to the use of game-inspired techniques to increase engagement in a non-gaming activity. It’s not kid stuff either: applicable to learners of any age, gamification has demonstrable and measurable effects, as well as deep roots in pedagogy, cognitive science and human psychology.
eFront offers several built-in gamification features, such as points, badges, levels and leaderboards, and it even allows instructors to mix and match them and to customize their behavior in order to implement a particular gamification strategy. It also allows companies to use their custom badges and naming schemes, to get them more consistent with their training content.
We suggest you try to incrementally introduce a few gamification elements to your employee training — you’ll soon discover that there’s nothing like a little competitive element to increase learning engagement and get your employees to try to outdo each other.
7. Hear them out
Training should always be seen as an interactive affair.
By this we mean that there should be a two-way connection between instructors and learners, such that not only the learners acquire new knowledge and guidance from their instructors, but the instructors also get important feedback from the learners, which enables them to improve their course content and teaching approach.
This is just as important for web based employee training as it is for traditional classroom based training. Perhaps even more so, as in traditional learning teacher and learner interaction is inevitable, whereas in eLearning you need to work hard to achieve it.
Where we’re getting with this is simple: you should listen to your learners. They’ll tell you what works and what doesn’t work in your training courses. Some things might be too abstract, while others might be overly specific. Others, yet, might be hard to understand, or written in a confusing way. There will be also some things that your learners might want to see covered in their courses — stuff that your instructors didn’t consider, or thought was too trivial.
Have your instructors listen to your employee feedback and suggestions, and have them iterate on the course materials until they get them just right.
A modern enterprise LMS like eFront makes the whole process extremely easy, allowing you to work on your content iteratively, create new versions and re-use stuff with ease.
8. Numbers don’t lie
To best way to make sure that your employees are up to date with their eLearning courses is to be up to date with your employees’ training progress yourself.
Don’t just wait for their final test results — take advantage of your eLearning management platform’s reporting capabilities to track their attendance, scores, and overall progress.
eFront, for example, offers a flexible and intuitive reporting system that allows you to track, monitor and chart employee training progress across your whole company, for a particular department or branch, or for any particular employee. And you can even configure eFront to notify you with an email when a particular event, like an employee completing a course module, or test scores becoming available, occurs.
By leveraging your LMS monitoring and reporting capabilities you can get a good, and quantifiable sense of the progress of your employee training program, and easily spot problematic lessons and courses or employees that need a little extra help.
In this post we’ve examined a few tips and techniques for increasing participation and engagement in your company’s online employee training program. The main takeaway we’ve tried to drive home is that running an effective eLearning program needs organizational support and supervision.
Do you have any relevant tips to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section and we’ll try to cover the best of them on a follow-up post.
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