eTraining has been on a growth trajectory for the past few years. In fact, one-third of companies are increasing their budgets for learning and development. With nearly 50 percent of these businesses currently spending $100 per learner per year, companies will need to become more strategic about their online training programs to gain the best outcomes.
Gaining advanced insights from educational experts can help companies become more strategic — and understand the hidden opportunities in employee eTraining. These four insights illustrate some fresh ideas, including the power of making personal connections between employees and your learning material, providing more engaging training content, creating a learning motivation environment, and prioritizing individual employees.
- Create Personal Connections Between Employees and the Learning Material
Research has long shown a link between personal relevance and emotional engagement and the ability to store memories. This impacts employee learning. When it comes to eTraining, if employees form personal and emotional connections to the material, they’ll remember it easier and longer.
The ability to create connections requires providing learning materials that make it through the brain’s first filtering system, called the reticular activating system (RAS). It acts like a virtual editor of sensory information (sights, sounds, etc.), letting in certain things and filtering out others. Information has to get to parts of the brain where it can be “acknowledged, recognized, coded into patterns, and, ultimately, stored in long-term memory,” says neurologist and former classroom teacher Judy Willis.
RAS prioritizes potential threats and lets though information that is new, piques curiosity, or has the potential to bring pleasure. As such, dry and impersonal facts don’t make the cut. In other words, if your employees don’t believe a particular lesson is interesting, relevant, or within the scope of their capabilities, the information probably will not sink in. As a result, employees may not only disengage from your eTraining lessons, but also lose the motivation to try.
Building these links includes presenting new information with previously acquired knowledge, such as employees’ life and cultural experience. Without this connection, students may not only disengage and quickly forget what they’ve learned, but also they may lose their motivation to keep trying.
- Provide More Engaging eTraining Lessons to Better Engage Employees on the Job
A Gallup study of employees across 142 countries found that only 13 percent of workers feel engaged at work. Providing access to high-quality — and engaging — training materials at the start of their careers can help set the stage for future long-term job engagement.
In the business world, employee engagement and retention are immensely important — and it all starts with their first days on the job. Employees who feel accomplished and valued are more inclined to stick around for years to come. The first chance companies get to capture this initial engagement begins with the training process, so your training program’s ability to engage is critical.
One of the proven keys to create engaging content is to make it fresh and fun. Think: videos, quizzes, polls, surveys, games, and real-life scenarios.
- Learning Motivation Environment
Gallup found that almost 70 percent of Americans are actively disengaged in their work. The other 30 percent who are not engaged are costing the U.S. economy billions of dollars annually. This is bad news, particularly because it’s widely accepted that workforce productivity, engagement, quality, and consistency of work are key factors contributing to organizations’ success.
Therefore, it’s no surprise that employee engagement and retention is the second biggest business concern after leadership development, according to a Human Capital Trends 2014 by Deloitte University Press. Anything that improves employee engagement critical — and this includes your eTraining program.
Some business experts have found that employee motivation can be elevated through a Learning Motivation Environment (LME). This involves creating a “recognition culture” that structures recognition through peer evaluation, as opposed to solely top-down evaluation. This structure can work particularly well in employee training initiatives, because new employees are more satisfied when their peers are included in their training process.
Consider creating a stronger peer-to-peer element in your eTraining program to infuse motivation as new employees join your company.
- Prioritize the Individual to Adopt to the Needs of a Changing Workforce
For many companies, an updated learning and development process is long overdue. Brandon Hall Group’s 2014 Learning and Development Benchmarking Study shows that only about 50 percent of companies have revisited their learning strategies less than two times over the last five years.
Instead of letting their programs get stale, businesses should keep their eTraining programs fresh, including providing new mechanisms for learning — ones that can adapt to the needs of a changing workforce and align closely with organizational objective.
One strategy that’s worth pursuing is focusing on the individual. With the emergence of a younger generation and the rise of independent worker mentality, companies must rethink their approach to talent and begin to prioritize the “individual” at every stage — including each employee’s unique learning styles and requirements.
Offering a wide range of eTraining styles and content helps ensure that each unique employee finds value in your eTraining program — value that fuels their job satisfaction for years to come.