5 tips to promote ongoing online employee training in your organization
Employees are the lifeblood of your organization, which is why it’s crucial to provide them with the training tools, learning programs, online training solutions they need to achieve success. More importantly, they must receive ongoing online training (beyond initial onboarding) that allows them to fine tune their skills, learn about the latest products, and brush up on work related tasks. Without continuous learning and development opportunities, retention and employee satisfaction rates plummet.
So, for all you L&D leaders and training managers out there, here are 5 tips that can help you foster an effective online training culture and promote professional development company-wide.
1. Pair employees with a mentor
Everyone can benefit from a mentor—not just new employees. A mentor serves as someone who can offer support and guidance when necessary. They can also act as providers of invaluable, real-time feedback should the employee needs to improve their performance behaviors. Mentoring encourages social learning (which is a highly effective way to train employees without incurring additional training costs). If possible, make the employee-to-mentor ratio as small as possible, so that every staff member gets a chance to communicate with their mentor on a consistent basis. Also, set some ground rules to clarify how they should communicate and what is expected of them. For example, the mentor is responsible for conducting monthly evaluations and the employee must follow the protocols set forth by the mentor. You may even want to create a training contract between the mentor and the employee to make sure that everyone is aware of the guidelines and desired outcome.
2. Develop accountability standards
Every employee in your organization should be held accountable for their workplace performance and online training completion. In order for this to occur, however, they must be aware of the expectations and company-wide online training standards. After all, you cannot reprimand an employee for not finishing the latest product knowledge online training module if you haven’t stressed the importance of completing that module. Accountability should also extend to their level of proficiency, which can be determined through online assessments, on-the-job observations, and evaluations. To increase the effectiveness of your ongoing online training program you should customize your accountability standards based on the specific training needs and goals of your employees. For example, a member of your customer service staff would have different standards than your sales supervisors or managers.
3. Provide optional online learning materials
One of the most effective ways to promote your ongoing online training is to make it completely voluntary. Send employees weekly emails with links to articles, online videos, quizzes, or presentations they may find useful. Provide them with a list of high-quality supplemental online training activities that they can access on their own time and at their own pace. Let them determine their own learning paths. Give them the opportunity to learn about a task or skill while they are out of the office. Employees who do want to excel are going to find these extremely beneficial, as it allows them to get the information and skills they need to move up the corporate ladder. With this being said, there are some online training sessions that employees need to complete in order to meet organizational and business goals. This is why you should be very specific about what is mandatory and what is not. Employees must be aware of which modules they will need to complete, by when, and how it will ultimately help them on-the-job. If they need more incentive, many learning platforms have the functionality to incorporate gamification into your online training courses (e.g. using leaderboards to show progress or offering rewards (like badges and points) for course completion).
4. Space your online training and employee development activities
Spacing your online training is essential for three key reasons: Firstly, it improves knowledge retention by allowing employees (especially new hires) to absorb the information before they move onto the next online training course or activity. Secondly, it increases employee engagement by offering them the chance to focus on the task at hand, assimilate all of the takeaways, and determine how they can apply them in the real world. In other words, they can see the true value of the online training firsthand. Last, but certainly not least, it makes it more convenient for employees to access continuous online training courses. Instead of having to set aside an entire day for normal corporate training, they can complete an online training activity in under half an hour and then go about their work day.
5. Offer a good variety of online training materials
Not all of your employees are going to enjoy reading through a training manual or listening to a podcast. You need to include a variety of different online training materials and activities that cater to different learner preferences and styles. Some learners might gravitate toward online videos and scenarios, while others will benefit from narrated online presentations. Survey your audience to get a clear idea of what online training activities you should include and the best ways to convey the information. Bear in mind that eLearning interactivity is always a good choice, as it helps to create a sense of immersion. Online training simulations and scenarios are two examples of interactive online training materials that are effective in ongoing online training courses. Content delivery is also a consideration. Some employees prefer mobile learning, where they can access online training materials on their mobile devices, while others may stick with their laptops and desktops. However, using a responsive design learning management system (LMS) gives you the power to create user-friendly online courses and training content that automatically deliver the best possible viewing experience. Whether they are using an Android or iOS smartphone, tablet, or PC, every employee will receive the same benefit from your ongoing online employee training programs.
Promoting online ongoing training may require time and resources, but it can lead to a dramatic increase in your eLearning ROI, boost your profits, and positively impact other business metrics. Use these 5 tips to create the best employee learning experiences, so you can get your people excited about your online training process and transform them into lifelong online learners who serve as productive members of your team.
Author: Christopher Pappas
Christopher Pappas is founder of The eLearning Industry’s Network. Currently, the eLearning Industry has a network of more than 250,000 professionals involved in the eLearning Industry. He is also the Founder and Owner of the Instructional Design and eLearning Professionals’ Group, which is the largest online community of professionals involved in the eLearning Industry at LinkedIn. You can connect with Christopher on Linkedin and Twitter.