Company Training: Finding a Show That Fits

21 December 2016 by National Bank

Companies today have a whole slew of training options available to them, from classroom training to e-learning. So how do you decide which one to choose?

It can be easy to get lost in the sea of options the corporate training market has to offer. Companies can opt for in-house training with a facilitator, synchronous or real-time virtual classrooms (such as webinars), asynchronous distance training (where employees train when they have the time, for instance at lunch), and more. Here are some tips to help you make the right choice.

Choosing the right learning strategies

Henri Boudreault, professor in the Department of Education and Specialized Training at Université du Québec à Montréal, indicates that the key to finding the right tools is asking questions.

As he notes, “you not only have to ask yourself what the purpose of the training is, but also who the learners are, how old they are, what drives them, what their learning experience is, and what you expect in terms of results.”

He stresses that the tools must be adapted for the intended purpose, and that the cheapest option may not produce the desired results.

Boudreault also warns against the “mirage” of new technology. The fact that there are innovative tools out there does not mean that you have to use them. The needs and realities of your learners should be guiding your decisions. You have to remember that technology is above all a means to an end, and that each training method brings something different to the table.

“For instance, e-learning is perfectly suitable for conveying knowledge, but if you want employees to learn how to think and apply their newfound knowledge, a coach or trainer is required for guidance. It has been shown that knowledge is soon lost if not put to use,” says Boudreault.

Combining tools

Hybrid or mixed training approaches that alternate between various techniques (in-person, distance, etc.) are increasingly favoured, as it’s always best to have many strings to your bow and many arrows in your quiver!

Mireille Naggar, Director of the E-learning Department at Technologia, which provides various in-class and distance training options, is inclined to agree. “Hybrid training allows for the development of training courses that are particularly well suited to company and employee needs. For example, you can have employees learn work procedures online and then apply them on the job with a coach or mentor to complete the learning process,” she notes

According to Naggar, in-class training is not on its way out and is still an effective technique that can be supplemented with other methods. She explains that “in-person training provides a more tangible experience and makes it possible to adapt to the needs of participants in real time. However, it entails bringing in a trainer and rounding up employees, who may have to travel to participate. These extra expenses are in addition to the time employees spend away from their workstations during training.”

E-learning courses are generally more expensive for companies to design and produce than in-person training, though they are more affordable when generic, pre-developed content is used. On the other hand, they cost less to deliver once you factor in travel costs and lost working hours. François Ronaï, consultant and president of Solutions Komuna, which specializes in learning and development strategies, notes that “such training can be provided as often as necessary and in a uniform manner. Distance training is flexible, accessible from anywhere at any time, and can be segmented into small modules that learners can more easily fit into their schedules.” This microlearning approach can be especially appropriate for people who have little time to train.

However, to be effective, this type of training must be meticulously prepared.

“Learners are alone during training sessions, so you have to anticipate any questions and difficulties they may have and plan the program accordingly,” says Ronaï.

Conditions for success

Combining e-learning and in-person training can give you the best of both worlds. Training can start with e-learning and segue into hands-on situations with a coach or trainer to consolidate learning. Or, you can begin with classroom training or webinars and wrap up with e-learning modules learners can use to refresh their knowledge regularly.

There’s no shortage of options when it comes to hybrid training. Nevertheless, there’s another key condition for success: management involvement and manager support. A genuine training culture must be established within the company, and it must be seen as an investment, not an expense.

Any organization intent on meeting its business objectives must devote some time to training its staff, and in turn, its employees must find the time to train. That’s how you get to a win-win situation!

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