Many companies today would like to create on online training system for their employees.  The purpose of having an online employee training system in place is to save time and money in the training process.  And, if created correctly, a “system” can serve this purpose well.

Unfortunately, just because you use online training software to develop your employee training system doesn’t mean that you will ultimately benefit.  The online system shouldn’t dictate the type of training that you perform.  And, the system should be easy to use.

In addition, the online training should have specific goals and should be supported by the organization.  And, last but not least, one should think about whether e-learning is actually the best match for the training.

Not paying attention to the issues above should be considered mistakes in implementing an online employee training system within your company.  We discuss these 5 mistakes below.

1. The Employee Training is Dictated By The System

puzzleIf you’re going to use some form of web-based online training for your employee training needs, first think of the pedagogy and figure out how to make the online training software work within your pedagogy; don’t go the other way around.  If you try to fit the training to the system instead of the system to the training, then the type of training that you give will be dictated by the technical limitations of whatever course management or learning management software you choose to use.

As one example, suppose that the type of employee training which you’re planning to give involves some self-critique on the part of the employee.  Some web-based training software allows for discussion groups, which could be a means of delivering this type of training.  If, however, the e-learning software doesn’t have the online discussion feature, then you could easily develop an off-line component of the training such as a live discussion group.

The moral of the story is that you should be willing to think outside of the system if the e-training software doesn’t have something you need from a pedagogical perspective.

2. Your E-Training Software Is Too Complicated

labyrinthYou’ve just come back from an E-Learning Conference where you tried out some of the latest tools in corporate training software.  You were super impressed by one of the presentations given and the associated sales pitch.

When you get back to the office and start showing the system to your co-workers, you slowly begin to realize that you’re the only one who really knows how to use it.  Sure the training software can make a cup of espresso and order take-out, but if you’re going to have to spend a lot of time training the trainers at your organization, then adoption of the system could potentially cost you more time instead of saving you more time.

Whatever online training software you choose to use, it should make your life easier and not more difficult!

3. No Goals For The Training System

An online employee training system is just like a traditional employee training system in one important way: without a specific set of measurable goals, it will be very difficult to determine whether the training system is a success.  Depending on the type of training that you would like to perform, you will have different goals.  And, unless you specifically identify what your goals are, you have no idea whether the training program is worth it.

5 starsFor sales, your goals might include closing more sales, decreasing the amount of time needed for a sale, or decreasing in the number of customers who change their minds after the sale is made.  For safety training, decreasing the number of accidents would certainly be a reasonable goal.  And, for customer service training, decreasing the number of customer complaints or increasing the number of “5-star Customer Reviews” are each reasonable goals.

In determining whether the online employee training system is in fact effective, one has to be aware of a concept from Statistics known as Association or Correlation. If you simply give the training program to all of your employees and there’s an improvement in some measurable result, then you can only say that the training program is associated or correlated with the measured result, not that the training system caused the desired result.

To give a specific example, suppose that you’re testing a new sales training program for air conditioners.  You have everyone at the office participate and in the following months you see that sales are going through the roof.  So, implementing the training program is associated with the increased sales.

However, does this mean that the increased sales were caused by the implementation of the training program?  Not necessarily.  What if during the months following the training program there was a heat wave? In other words, there could have been another variable (sometimes caused a lurking variable) that actually was the cause of the increased sales.

StatisticsTo get around this, you can randomly select just half of your trainees to take your online training program.  Then, you can compare the sales of the two groups, enabling you to see if it really was the sales training program that was the cause of the increase in sales.

With that said, there are some additional subtle details in determining whether the differences are statistically significant, so you may want to consult with someone at your organization who has a quantitative background.

4. An Online Employee Training System With No Support

If you’re an instructional designer tasked with creating the training system, then before you begin the process, make sure that the system you’re developing has full support from management.  Any training system should be thought of as a living, breathing organism that gets tweaked as the company’s culture, goals, and employees change and will therefore require resources to survive.

SupportFrom a financial perspective, make sure that the system you’re developing will be supported for the time that it takes to achieve your stated goals.  This includes development of the training, whose cost depends on whether you’ll need to contract hire a freelance instructional designer.

In addition, the cost of the online training software that you choose to use may be a factor.  However, on a per employee basis, this piece of the puzzle typically will be very inexpensive, at a dollar or so per employee.

Finally, there will be a cost associated with measuring results and tweaking the system.

5. A Traditional Employee Training System Is Better

Just because you create an online employee training system with all of the bells and whistles that come with online training software doesn’t mean that the system is better than using a traditional approach.  It’s really easy to get caught up in using the latest technology because all of your colleagues seem to be doing it.  Perhaps, however, a traditional approach to employee training is just as good, if not better.

And, you can once again compare two randomly chosen groups of employees, give each group a type of training (e-learning or traditional) and see if there’s actually a difference in how well the employees perform the desired skills.  And while there will be time and cost invested in discovering whether there is a significant difference, the data that you collect will be invaluable in coming to a rational decision.

Conclusion

Companies create employee training systems as a way to develop their employees from an educational standpoint.  And, online employee training systems are one potential way to save time and money in this process.

However, in developing the system, don’t force the training to fit the system, make sure that it is easy to use, that it aligns with your training goals, has broad support, and is the type of system that makes the most sense for your employees’ training needs.

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