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Employee training has been praised as one of the best ways to bolster business success.

eLearning successIn 2006, the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) stated, “Employee learning and development is taking center stage as business leaders increasingly understand that a highly skilled, knowledgeable workforce is critical to achieving growth and success.” Little has changed since this statement was made and several thriving companies agree that effective employee training fosters achievement. But employee training has become an increasingly broad concept, especially since the advent of eLearning.

Training no longer requires employees be placed in a windowless classroom for two days each year so they can become recertified in their areas of expertise. Modern training tactics replace or compliment proven classroom learning techniques with eLearning solutions. Unfortunately, not all businesses know how to execute effective online training strategies and, as a result, struggle to reach the next levels of success.

Why does employee training fail? What can companies do when their training programs don’t increase performance? How might eLearning help businesses grow and prosper?

The Value of Effective Training

Organizations are linking learning to performance and the bottom line, and they understand the relationship between creating a skilled workforce and achieving enterprise-wide success.

-ASTD 2014 State of the Industry Report

Organizations that want to increase sales and extend the reach of their brands are faced with a long list of possible strategies for achieving their goals. Should they cut costs? Offer coupons and money-saving specials? Suggest warranties? Jon Davies writes about these techniques in the article, How a Culture of Learning Impacts Business Performance. He points out that these techniques are implemented by companies that want to strengthen their bottom lines. Unfortunately, results tend to be short-lived. Long-term sustainability and growth is most likely to come from training up knowledgeable, competent, engaged workforces.

Davies cites a Gartner study (Gartner is a technology research company) when he says, “… A culture of learning brought about by regular and relevant training can improve performance significantly.” Effective training strengthens companies in ways of talent retention, technological advancements, and streamlining organizational operations. More so, training serves as an antidote to change, and in the fast pace business world we live in today, no company is exempt from change.

Why Does Employee Training Fail?

Epic FailEach business faces distinct challenges when it comes to training. Some of the common training pitfalls that trip-up otherwise successful organizations include:

  • Lack of connection with learners
  • Set training requirements that don’t relate to learners’ job descriptions
  • Failure to offer support for day-to-day tasks
  • Try to fit too much information in too little time
  • Teach in ways that promote information regurgitation, not long-term knowledge retention

Another reason why employee training fails is because companies cut funding to these programs when economic challenges arise.  “In times of economic stringency,” writes Donald Clark in his article, Learning and Training: Statistics and Myths, “many U.S. organizations reduce training to make profit goals.”

Taking training off the table does not help the long-term success of a company. Thankfully, eLearning options are relatively inexpensive and many companies no longer consider cancelling training programs. In fact, companies are getting more bang for their training bucks by instituting eLearning. Between 2006 and 2012, Training Magazine reports, classroom training hours dropped 21 percent. Instead, more companies opt for blended learning environments that involve classroom training and computer-based eLearning.

Training Programs that Increase Employee Performance

Moving training initiatives to eLearning platforms is the first step to improving employee performance, but don’t mistake eLearning as an “easy fix.” After finding and implementing the right eLearning system, a company needs to employ effective training techniques that capture learners’ attention and foster knowledge retention.

One approach to consider is blended learning, which is used in more than a quarter of all training hours, according to a 2012 article published in Training Magazine. Clark describes the popularity of blended learning by saying this: “Blended learning is probably the closest thing we have to a silver bullet. In one study using a blended learning platform composed of classroom and eLearning, it was shown to increase learning by an average of 11 percent for both procedural and declarative knowledge.” From this we can assume that using eLearning catches the attention of employees and affords them a higher chance of retaining the information they receive in training.

But not all that glitters is gold. Once upon a time, flashy eLearning graphics were enough to catch a learner’s attention, but now, only well designed and deliberate eLearning materials are able to captivate and train audiences. And interactive material is credited for being the key to long-term retention.

Employee TrainingIn his article, Why Do Employees Forget Their Training? Eric Skilling explores the problem of online training courses failing to encourage long-term knowledge retention in employees. He concludes that the goal of eLearning and all training, for that matter, is for employees to reach levels of unconscious competence, where they have deep understanding of their job roles and can perform tasks well without thinking about them. Skilling says this can be accomplished, “…through the reinforcement of the knowledge via spaced repetition of knowledge checks after the initial online training has been completed. This can be accomplished by subsequent knowledge checks delivered via your learning management system (LMS) or in-person through a blended learning program.”

Not all employee training techniques are made equal. Some are downright ineffective. However, companies that strategically implement eLearning into their training practices have a good chance of seeing successful results. With a blended eLearning plan or by creating knowledge-retention eLearning strategies, employees are more likely to remember what they learn and use recommended tools to fulfill job tasks and accelerate business practices.

Employee training, like the business world, is evolving. By refusing to fear failure, any business can embrace new training techniques and reach new heights of success.

Jeffrey A. Roth
Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Jeffrey.Roth@Interactyx.com
interactyx.com

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