There are many benefits of training and online learning in the corporate sector and no one can question the need for training initiatives. It is not a surprise that many organizations make considerable efforts to create training initiatives to ensure that their employees are at par with the developments around them. A lot of investment is directed towards creating sustainable as well as impactful training that can benefit the employees as well as the organization in the long run.
But what if your training initiatives still fail to make the anticipated impact? Isn’t that just a waste of time and organizational funds as well as the effort put in by the learners? So, what are the top reasons behind the failure of a seemingly innovative training initiative?
More often than not, the two main culprits are: Learners’ apathy towards learning and lack of organizational support.
Improving Learners’ attitude towards Training
Many learners view training as a ‘necessary evil’ and take up mandatory training programs that are required with the aim to look good in the eyes of their manager!
When training is closely linked with organizational actions like employee evaluations or bonuses, it is a definite ‘push’ for learning. But it is important to note that the learners are only motivated by the reward and not the subject matter. Rather than something that they have to do as a mandatory task, learners must view online learning as a task where they benefit directly. There are various ways to improve the learners’ attitudes towards training – which work for a variety of organizations:
- Highlight actual benefits of learning: Most employees ask the same question at the start of a training initiative – “What’s in it for me?” If they perceive that the training is for organizational benefit only, it discourages them to put in their best efforts into learning. Thus, if the benefits of learning are pointed out to the individual before the start of the training endeavour, it can do a world of good to the end-results. Mailers or e-brochures can be created to highlight the benefits and sent out to the learners. Mini-contests and other activities can also be held to create a buzz around the training initiative. Within the e-course, badges or certificates can be created to help the learners achieve goals and improve engagement with the online learning process.
- Encourage peer learning: Learning is a social process and the best results are reaped when there are ample opportunities for peer interaction. But due to time restrictions, this is often not a viable option. But with technology-aided online learning platforms, learners can be given the opportunity to interact with fellow learners through instant messaging, discussion boards or even virtual classrooms. The social platform can also be utilized for peer learning, where advanced learners or high performers can be given the onus of leading discussions or even conducting short lessons for their peers. This is a huge driver for learning. It gives a sense of pride and achievement to the best performers within the learner group. For others it’s a source of inspiration that propels them to put in extra efforts and encourages them to aspire for the same achievements.
- Personalized learning: Learning is a personal experience, and every individual has a different online learning style. It is not possible to build-in all the personal styles into a single training course. But it is important to give enough options to cater to some personal requirements as well. Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to build-in the avenues of personal learning without drilling a huge hole in your training budget! For instance, while building an e-course, G-Cube created a structure that split the course into two – the first one an introduction and the other giving the details of the subject in hand. Advanced learners could choose to skip the first part and move on to the more pertinent second part. To make sure that all the learners do not skip the introduction, a small test was assigned at the beginning of the second part, which made sure that the learner had the necessary background to fully understand the subject ahead. The bifurcation within the course provided an option to the learners, which helped them save time and effort. In addition, it provided them the opportunity to concentrate on newer knowledge while they did not have to forcibly study something they already knew.
Improving Organizational Support
Since the organization invests in the technology-aided learning solutions, it has to support the training endeavor in order to reap the true ROI from the initiative. Organizations should develop a solid organizational program that provides choice to the employees by making available eCourses for individual learning needs as well as custom training courses for team training and development needs.
It is possible for the organization to do its bit and make sure that the training initiative is not headed for failure:
- Defining training objectives: As basic as it sounds, many training initiatives begin with no clear objectives in mind. Most of them are created to cater to a pertinent need within the organization, but how an employee can improve or can become better suited for his work through the training remains undefined. For instance, when creating a training to improve the selling techniques of employees, the objective should take into account the improved sales figures of the learner group over time – both before and after the commencement of training. By defining objectives, the organization makes the training ‘purposeful’ and thus gains the most out of it.
- Training evaluation is critical: Many organizations don’t direct enough efforts to evaluate how well the employees have learned after they have completed a training course. Organizations should extend support to fully gauge the impact of training efforts that benefits the employees as well as the organization. Some organizations simply rely on employee feedback to understand how well the training was received. But this only gives a measure of initial reaction to the course, which is often insufficient in measuring the true impact. Organizations should not only test the actual skills learned during the training, but do it on a continual basis. Also, it is necessary to test an employee immediately after the training and repeat the testing multiple times to measure the skills decay. This will provide the true impact of learning and also reveal training needs as and when they emerge.
- Practice what is learned: In addition to measuring the skills decay it is also important to take proper steps to avoid the loss of skills over time. It is common knowledge that 79% of information learnt is forgotten within a month, if nothing is done to reinforce it. So, the good news is that there are reinforcement activities that can decrease the loss of information over time as well as increase the retention rates for the learners. Organizations should provide the learners ample opportunities to practice the newly-acquired skills or knowledge. If this is not possible in the actual place of work, assignments or workshops can be conducted to make sure that the learners can practice and perfect their learning. Simulations can also be created to provide the learners a safe and secure environment for practicing, before embarking on applying them in their work.
In the current competitive global market, the organizations that invest in employee training and development are the ones that are successful. And employees who realize the worth of giving their best towards employee training and development initiatives are the ones who succeed along with the organization. It’s truly a two-way handshake between the learners and the organization, which accounts for training success in the corporate scenario.
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