Are employee training platforms keeping up with the times?

Jobs and companies are diverse, with different corporate environments and cultures. But all companies have one thing in common: they need to train their employees.

Training programs are necessary for employees to learn new skills and ensure that they and the company they work for are following laws and regulations set up in their industry. Not only must new hires be onboarded, but continuing education is a must in many industries. Employees continually learn new skills as they interact with and build relations with customers, and the constant advancement of technology makes this fact more true than ever today.

In fact, almost 40% of employees consider the potential for growth a major factor in job satisfaction, as of 2019.

New applications and programs must often be adopted, and employees have increasingly adopted web-based tools to complete their tasks, regardless of industry. Companies have used several traditional learning approaches to onboard and train workers in digital adoption for both job completion and compliance. Traditional training methods all have some benefits and drawbacks and are not “one size fits all.”

However, with the recent growth of remote work and the changes happening in how the corporate world is organized, the drawbacks of these traditional employee training tools have only amplified. New solutions are needed.

Employee Training: A necessary expense

In today’s constantly changing corporate world, the need for employee training is greater than ever. Not only do new hires need to know how to use a myriad of online tools, but they also need to know how to apply those tools to specific situations, often in concert with their soft skills. 

A heavier reliance on technology means that more knowledge and skills are necessary for workers. The average number of applications that companies and employees typically use to perform day-to-day tasks is only increasing. That technology, which can range from simple email systems to sales enablement software, must constantly evolve. This means that employee skills gaps will need to be addressed often through continued learning and development.

Managers must not only train employees to use an ever-growing variety of apps but also use up to date employee training tools and employee training methods to make sure that all workers meet compliance requirements for their industry or standards within their company. Compliance policies and laws vary by field⸺and regulations do change often⸺as do the ways companies do business. This means that employee training and development programs must continue to make sure that employees are up to date and can adapt to new standards.

To meet the business goals of companies, managers, and employees, training has typically taken on a few different forms. Some of these approaches worked well in the past, but the changing world of work is posing challenges for many traditional training methods.

Traditional types of employee training

In the past, managers and trainers used a few learning approaches to onboard new hires and train employees in new processes and policy changes. These learning experiences could vary by industry and by employee. One form of job training that works well for one person may not work well for the next, and all types of training have benefits and drawbacks.

Hands-on training happens “on the job” and is exactly as described: a new employee is trained, often by a senior employee, while working his or her first few days. This sort of learning is often contextual. New employees can apply their training to specific situations and learn quickly. However, this employee training system doesn’t work for everyone, as some find the constant oversight more stressful than helpful.

Social learning, a more recent method, ties well into on-the-job training. New hires and current employees learn from managers and co-workers by simply watching and imitating more experienced members of the company.

This is similar to how children learn life skills from the adults in their lives. Training can also be reinforced in this way, which aids with learning retention. This type of training, however, can be hard to put into action as there are so many factors in whether it can be successful.

For multiple workers or an entire company learning a new process or digital platform, classrooms are often used to deliver training. These learning programs often include presentations, slides, videos, or lectures. Classrooms can even be used to train employees on the use of new, complex digital tools.

The main downside of classroom-based training is how expensive it is, as a venue, food, supplies, and an instructor all cost money. Also, workers may find it difficult to retain much information after the training is over, making much of the learning short term only. 

Trainers can also take a more interactive approach through the use of mock scenarios, tests, games, and more. In some situations, role plays can even be used to create a form of blended learning with other approaches. While this approach can be more fun and lead to better retention than others, it can be difficult and time-consuming to put into practice.

Of course, online training has become very popular in recent years. Most are familiar with employee learning tools such as webinars, videos, and online quizzes. This type of training often costs less than others and is less time-consuming, but often misses opportunities for contextual learning.

The rise of remote and flexible work

Remote work is growing at a fast pace, and many workers prefer to do remote work over commuting to another location to perform their jobs. As many as 42% of employees worked from home during 2020, and much of the stigma related to remote work is vanishing.

Remote work has many benefits too, and it’s no surprise that many companies are switching to having at least part of their workforce move to more flexible locations than the office. Travel expenses can be reduced and less space needs to be rented to accommodate company operations. Employees may also find a quieter environment more conducive to getting more work done than at the office.

Employee training, however, can become more difficult with so much of the workforce no longer gathering in one location. This means that traditional learning methods may not be able to keep up with this rapid organizational change, which is here to stay.

New employee training solutions are needed

With the exploding popularity of remote work, does traditional employee training software and other training programs meet the needs of companies and their teams? When employees work in flexible locations such as at home or while traveling, it’s obvious that some training approaches won’t work well, or at all, when it’s time to train workers in new process changes or new compliance policies. There will also be obvious issues when training new hires.

When a portion of a company is working remotely, it may be difficult and very expensive to bring all employees to a classroom for a session of training, especially when some employees may be working hundreds of miles away. This means that travel expenses alone may lead to a negative return on an investment after paying for such training as well as airfare. And with the low learning retention that workers experience after classroom training, frustration can build when returning to their jobs in their remote locations.

Performing mock scenarios in person or even over the phone may be too time-consuming as well. Also, social learning becomes almost impossible with remote employees, since a good deal of this type of learning relies on both verbal and nonverbal cues.

Because of these challenges, employee training software can be used to onboard new employees as well as train current workers in new processes and programs. But all workers are different with varied learning styles.

Standard online training is often not very contextual as well and doesn’t touch on specific and unique situations that employees may encounter. Once training is finished, accessing help may mean searching through files, watching videos, or doing database searches. Asking coworkers for help is difficult in a remote setting. This can increase context switching, or going between apps to find how-to answers, which wastes time and frustrates employees and managers alike.

Contextual, lightweight learning is the future

Clearly, current learning management systems aren’t keeping up with the changing world of work. A new training plan is needed for developing employees and to prevent compliance issues.

Time is a major barrier to compliance training. It’s also a factor in employee onboarding, technology training, and communicating process changes. The need for contextual learning that happens in real-time is growing at a rapid pace. Employees need to learn their duties quickly, often while working away from an office or other traditional job setting.

Contextual, lightweight training meets that need and can lead to long-term job satisfaction. With this new type of learning experience, employees can find training directly in-app, right where and when they need it to perform their tasks. No longer do employees have to spend valuable time switching between programs in order to find answers about how to do their job.

Now, workers can have the convenience of finding answers that apply to their specific situation directly in the software they’re using. This can occur in the form of a sidebar directly in-app or even as an inserted pop-up or link somewhere else in the tool they’re using. Information is given in small, easy-to-digest bits rather than in large blocks, and a hands-on experience helps employees to learn new skills more quickly than ever before.

Managers and trainers are able to easily install and integrate contextual training across a variety of applications. Training and learning reinforcement can be easily inserted in areas where skills gaps are present. Trainers and managers can also easily communicate process changes to all employees at once, rather than calling a time-consuming meeting.

Making the leap to contextual, lightweight learning

Are remote employees satisfied with their current web-based training tools? The answer is that there are likely issues with learning retention and context switching. Interviewing your remote employees and those who work in flexible locations may shed light on how much beginning to use lightweight, contextual learning will save in employee and management time.

It may also pay to adopt a more lightweight, contextual employee training platform. In a more systematic, widespread use case that software can enable, productivity will see a boost, and the need for expensive classroom training sessions will be reduced.

Contextual learning can also help flatten the forgetting curve when an entire company is adopting new software, such as CRM software. This can improve customer relations, enable faster revenue production and help retain valuable employees.

Getting started today

Employee training and development doesn’t have to stick to the outdated methods of the past. Today, these can cause more frustration and loss of productivity than ever before. There are solutions for the unique issues caused by the rise of remote work. A new training approach can make a difference for your company. You can start by chatting with us today.