According to Training Magazine’s Industry Report (2007), 20% of training budgets in the United States went to Online Self-Led training.
That same publication reported that 28% of mandatory job training was accomplished via online classes. Yet, there are many in the industry that claim leader-led training is still, by far, the best way to accomplish training objectives. What they fail to tell us is why it’s the best method.
There are many situations in which leader-led (classroom type) training is best for an organization. When the topic of training is closely related to job tasks or knowledge sets that are unique to the company, leader led training is definitely the way to go. However, there are a few times when online self-led training is more effective financially and from an information retention perspective.
Reason number one? Cost effectiveness, of course. Online training reduces costs to the company in a number of ways. The most obvious is that no one in the company is taken off task to create a training program, design a presentation, and ultimately facilitate the classroom training. For those companies that have not yet established a training department or hired an employee dedicated to this task, online training reduces overhead expenses dramatically.
Training Magazine’s Industry Report says that 48% of companies in the U.S. state that increased effectiveness is the number one priority in training for their company. Time costs are rarely considered in employee development scenarios by non-training industry individuals.
However, ask anyone who has sat down to develop a full training class and they will tell you the biggest struggle was deadlines and making the most of time. This silent profit vacuum can be detrimental to the training budget before class is even in session.
Considerations must be made for information extractions, topic and objective development, class design, presentation design, facilitation notes, the list goes on. There are many details to which a trainer must tend before employee training can even begin. Online training courses take all of that time expenditure away. It’s always smart to take a few moments to ballpark the cost of internal development and compare it to the cost of pre-made training programs available online.
The third reason that online employee training will benefit most companies in 2009 is technological advancements. On the job, technical and engineering industries are faced with many options regarding production technology.
Most companies will benefit more from purchasing the latest technology in their industry, but won’t see much of a revenue increase for purchasing updated training tools. This is where online training programs and companies become an ally for technology-based businesses. In essence, someone else has already purchased the technology.
Therefore pay for use is reduced through sheer volume. Where a small production plant may only use training technology to train 150 employees, there are training companies that use their tools for thousands, therefore offering the same training at a reduced cost to the company. However, this should be carefully compared to the actual knowledge retention that is expected form employees.
Always consider the learning style of employees as some of them may not be able to gather and retain information by reading it or “watching it” on a screen. Many employees may learn from interaction with other employees or their trainer.
However a company chooses to implement employee training should be based on the three factors above. Is the training cost effective, time effective, and will it lead to the retention of information by employees? It is important in a struggling economy to take the time to weigh the best options against each other.
Don’t assume that in-house training is best. Also don’t assume that outsourcing training is the best. Weigh the options and make a decision that is unique to the employees receiving the training.