Experience in online employee training has given today’s companies insight into the many benefits — including how much employees like them. But what about research? Is there any scientific insight to help companies understand employees’ perspectives of online training programs? The answer is yes. In fact, three recent studies shed insight on this very issue.
Anecdotally, companies have learned a lot about employees’ perspective of online training. They appreciate online training for several reasons including:
- Lessons can be accessed anywhere, anytime — even from their mobile devices
- They can learn at their own pace, versus going at the speed of an in-person curriculum
- Employees appreciate lessons that are easy to access, navigate, and complete
- Lessons can be interactive and immersive — and, therefore, more engaging
- They provide an emotionally-centered experience that motivates employees to learn
Now, let’s see what some of the research has discovered.
Research into Employees’ Perceptions of Online Training
There have been many studies conducted over the years to measure the impact of human resource training programs in the business world. While they have uncovered valuable insights on the effectiveness, results, and impact, few studies have been conducted to assess employees’ perspectives of online learning — until recently.
Three of these studies give companies greater insight into how employees perceive the training they receive to do their jobs. These studies set out to find answers to these questions:
- Study 1 — What motivates employees to persist with online training in retail settings?
- Study 2 — What makes online training effective in multinational companies?
- Study 3 — Does online training impact job satisfaction, productivity, and job commitment?
STUDY 1 — What Motivates Employees to Persist With Online Training? — A Retail Study’s Findings
One workplace study was launched to better understand online training from the perspective of entry-level retail employees. The goal was to better understand the factors that contributed to a high participation and completion rate.
The employees’ job duties included: answering questions posed by customers about products, dealing with customers in a courteous manner, and following company procedures and policies. Their online training program offered small chunks of information so they could build their knowledge of products, customer service, and company procedures gradually.
While the employees admitted to being skeptical initially, they were emphatic about the value of the learning in the courses once they commenced. Researchers gained two key findings:
- Finding 1 — Improved ability to help others. The training program had been designed to help employees engage in more positive interactions with customers. The employees reported that the training provided them with new retail learning, enabling them to be more helpful to customers, other staff members, and, even, family and friends.
- Finding 2 — Ongoing impact of the training program. The study also found that the trainees’ knowledge and abilities grew as they completed more courses. One unanticipated finding was that employees continued to refer to the online courses for details and procedures long after the formal completion of the courses. What’s more, the employees talked about the information they’d learned and used, sometimes within hours of completing the courses.
STUDY 2 — What Makes eTraining Effective in Multinational Companies? — An International Study’s Findings
An international study was conducted to determine the critical factors that influenced online training effectiveness in multinational companies. The result revealed that motivation to learn, management support, and organization support were significant predictors of employee satisfaction. Also, satisfaction was a strong predictor of employees’ intention to continue learning.
The researchers began the study with several hypotheses about employees’ satisfaction with their companies’ e-training programs. Here are some of their key findings:
- Motivation to Learn. One hypothesis conjectured that there is a positive relationship between the motivation to learn and employee satisfaction. The study found this to be true. When the employees have high motivation to learn, they will exhibit greater interest in the e-training courses and, therefore, experience higher satisfaction.
- Management Support. One hypothesis stated that there is likely a positive relationship between management support and employee satisfaction. The research supported this view. Employees perform better in online training programs when top management provides support to keep improving their knowledge and skills, as well as provides recognition to employees who apply the knowledge and skills in their jobs.
- Organizational Support. One hypothesis predicted that there is a positive relationship between organizational support and user satisfaction. This was supported by the research. With appropriate organizational support, employees will be motivated to exert greater effort in learning process, and also feel more satisfied with the e-training system.
STUDY 3 — Does Online Training Impact Job Satisfaction, Productivity, and Job Commitment? — A University’s Findings
In 2014, two universities conducted a study to explore how employees’ productivity, job performance, and job satisfaction were impacted by using eLearning.
Key findings included the following insights:
- 91.5% of employees stated that they have used eLearning at work of some kind
- 74.9% stated that online learning leads to higher employee satisfaction
- 72.8% said that eTraining leads to higher employee productivity
- 66.5% believed eLearning leads to higher employee organizational commitment
- 63.5% stated that online learning has been beneficial to their work
- 48.1% said that eTraining investments by their companies have enhanced their job performance
- 41.9% said their job responsibilities have been easier because of their online learning experience
- 32,5% were more committed to their organizations because of eLearning experience
These three studies on online employee training programs point to one overarching outcome — online training programs are having a significant impact in today’s business world. Even thought many companies’ human resource online training programs are in their early stages of development, they are already positively impacting employee learning, motivation, and performance. As online training matures, the positive outcomes will also grow and expand — and companies will reap the many benefits.