How online training can improve perfomance

Written by
Changeboard Team

16 Aug 2011

16 Aug 2011 • by Changeboard Team

Get on track with training

There’s always the argument that investing in your workforce is crucial to improve organisational effectiveness. But difficulty arises when you’re asked to keep training quality at a consistently high level, demonstrate value and prove efficiency, despite reduced resources and budgets.

According to the CIPD, funds available for learning and development decreased for over half (52%) of organisations in 2009, while only 1 in 10 employers (11%) expected these to increase in 2010.

"To be successful in business, you need skilled staff full of ideas, who know the job and understand business priorities,” says Dave Evans, CEO of Accessplanit.

By increasing your employees’ understanding, knowledge and skills, Evans believes staff morale, performance, and loyalty will automatically grow and positively influence the bottom line.

Go online

According to Evans, if you want to make savings, look to online learning management systems (LMS). After making the switch, IBM reported that it was able to deliver five times the training at one third the cost, saving an estimated $200 million.

“How easy would it be if all day to day activities were automated?” asks Evans.“One of our clients has reduced the amount of time spent on administration by over 40% - that’s two full days per week,” he comments.

Web-based software means you can access data any time from any location that has an internet connection. Hosting, updates and maintenance can be performed remotely, to reduce the demands and cost on your internal IT teams.

“Online LMS’s can be self-service, so employees can log into the system and access learning materials or book onto courses. The entire process can be streamlined and made time and cost-effective,” says Evans.

Video solutions at Hallmark cards

“We’ve coined the term ‘flipped training’ which reverses the traditional model,” explains Matt Pierce, training manager at TechSmith. Ahead of the training session, theoretical knowledge isprovided, for example on video, allowing trainees to familiarise themselves with a new resource, topics or content. They arrive ready to apply their learning to a real-world situation.

“By providing learning materials in advance, the consistency and delivery of training content is also significantly improved. Videos can be accessed on an ongoing basis to allow employees to refresh their knowledge independently and revisit topics as required,” says Pierce.

For example, card retailer Hallmark has 13,200 full-time employees worldwide, 40,000 retail outlets and 65,000 products available at any one time, so training’s a key component for them.

Patty Couch, change management training development specialist, says: “Training must live on after projects are rolled out, and be accessible to all users – whether they’re at our HQ in Kansas City, in our field sales force, in a plant, distribution center or subsidiary.”

Hallmark published their first training videos in 2002. Prior to this, they held more instructor-led training classes and spent time covering materials one-on-one with users.

“In addition to a tool to develop web-based training, we wanted the capability to create quick demonstrations that allowed us to capture live screen actions with voice-over. We needed an easy-to-use tool that could be used by our technical staff as well as subject matter experts.

“Management understood the need for this type of technology training and saw the value it could bring up-front. We’ve been able to reduce instructor-led training sessions, and one-on-one support by having videos readily available to users.”

Retained learning

Once training has been completed, how do you prove that employees have retained information? “Many people think that once a training course has been delivered, everyone has learnt the content,” comments Laurie Dobson, CEO of ISV. He warns that trainees are often ‘released’ into the business with limited knowledge of either products or service, which can prove disastrous.

“Our question builder tool found that an average of 42 minutes per day are lost by computer users not being fully trained,” he reveals.

Measuring ROI

When money is tight, training budgets are often among the first to be sacrificed, which is why measurement to prove ROI is paramount. “Our clients all want to test how training has improved employee performance,” says Evans.

Systems that calculate and monitor return means that training benefits can be easily measured. “I’ve heard many instances of management questioning whether to train beyond basic level,” says Dobson, “but all training leads to an effect in productivity which ultimately affects the bottom line.”

For Dobson, the answer lies in e-assessments, which allow post-training evaluation, measure the abilities of existing staff and identify any skills or knowledge weaknesses. He believes that staff retention is currently standing at a falsely high level due to economic influences, so once the future becomes more certain we may well see a mass employee exodus.

“If your staff feel that you’re investing in them, they’re more likely to stay. In this competitive climate, to secure and retain the best talent, can you really afford not to invest?”

5 reasons to use online training

According to research provider, the Gartner Group,the retention of e-learning is twice as high as that of
traditional classroom instruction, at half the cost.

  • Provides ‘anywhere, anytime’ learning where employees can study wherever they have access to a computer and internet
  • Consistent quality (trainers have bad days)
  • Saves time and money on training and travel costs
  • You can reach geographically dispersed groups
  • Self-paced, so appeals both to slow and quick learners

Case study: Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS trust

Paul Mendes is head of learning & development at Royal Brompton & Harefield NHS Foundation Trust. With 2,980 staff to train, how did Paul tackle a labour intensive booking system and replace it with an efficient, self-service learning management process?

What were your key challenges?

The main challenge was around efficiency. We have around 15 courses per week involving up to 300 people and these had to be booked manually by a team of administrators. We had one system for e-learning and one for course bookings – we wanted to streamline them.

We also wanted to enable individuals to book their own training, and empower managers to identify training needs within their teams. Since implementation in May 2010, managers now have real-time information to see what capabilities their team hold and can follow up with staff if training hasn’t been completed.

How have you measured return on investment?

We’ve saved an absolute fortune in time – up to 25 hours per week. Resource that was previously deployed to admin has been freed up to help develop our leadership training, which is of premium value to us. We saved one post which is an ongoing cost saving of £30k per year.

Feedback across the trust has been hugely positive – particularly from managers who at the drop of a hat can see what training their team members want, and need, plus monitor their overall training plans.

Proving the business case - PODCAST

There was already a strong notion that we needed a self-service model. We researched the market extensively, auditioned the best three providers and I wrote a paper to the board with my recommendations and estimated results. The board agreed.

Click to hear Paul's top tips on choosing a solution, effective pricing and engaging the organisation.