Increase Employee Retention/Competency with Online Training
Every manager has a list of attributes that he or she wishes all employees possessed. While no two lists are identical, it’s fairly safe to assume that those in supervisory positions wish employees were a couple of things: loyal and competent. In a professional setting, these two simple characteristics can solve or prevent a host of problems.
Most managers detest the process of onboarding employees only to help them off board in a matter of a few weeks, months, or years. Training employees, then watching them leave a company is exhausting for all involved. Sadly, it happens all the time. Most industries have far higher rates of employee turnover than they’d like to.
Watching employees constantly cycle through an organization isn’t just discouraging; it’s extremely expensive. Many business owners grimace at the amount of money that gets lost in this process. Suzanne Lucas, writer for CBS Money Watch, expertly defined and clarified turnover costs in her article How Much Does It Cost Companies to Lose Employees?: “Turnover costs include productivity losses during training, recruiting and lost work while a position is vacant. For all jobs earning less than $50,000 per year, or more than 40 percent of U.S. jobs, the average cost of replacing an employee amounts to fully 20 percent of the person's annual salary…” Lucas went on to explain that the cost of losing an executive “is astronomical – up to 213 percent of the employee's salary.” Statistics like these demonstrate that losing employees threatens a company’s budget and brings financial ruin.
It’s possible that the only thing more frustrating than watching employees come and go is observing workers who lack skills needed for professional success. People who aren’t good at what they do because they don’t know how to do it anger bosses as well as customers/clients. A great number of these individuals have the potential to not only be passable as a whatever-it-is-they-are, but to be excellent. However, the companies they work for are sometimes the reason they are mediocre employees. After all, in many ways it is up to a company to develop an employee professionally. Sure, workers should take personal responsibility for their success in the workplace, but an employer should provide employees with the resources they need to become sufficiently skilled.
If employees were loyal to their employers and competent in their jobs, the majority of workforce-related problems would get solved organically. The high rates of turnover that keep business owners up at night would cease to exist if workers were deeply loyal to their employers. Also, if every worker was highly skilled at his or her job, customer satisfaction would skyrocket and managers would be spared a lot of headaches. There is only one thing standing between employees and the potential to be both highly skilled and fiercely loyal: a lack of effective training.
Training is the Secret to Skilled, Satisfied Employees
According to Klas Mellander, author of The Power of Learning: Fostering Employee Growth, “The purpose of training is to make learning possible.” When done right, employee training equips people with the skills they need to excel in the workplace. It also maximizes a person’s best traits and brings out inner gifts he or she didn’t even know were there. Managers know that people need to be trained in order to become good at what they do. What they don’t know is that properly training workers does much more than merely impart job skills – it also bonds employees to a company on an emotional level, decreasing the chances that they’ll bail out when the going gets rough.
In the workplace, training is vital. Ben Horowitz, contributor to Business Insider and well-known business leader, knows this, but he didn’t used to. In the article Why It’s Crucial to Train Your Employees, he explained his process of discovering the importance of training. He mentioned that he had been “underwhelmed” by all of the training he had ever been exposed to in the workplace and was therefore not a big advocate for it when he first became a manager at a company called Netscape. Horowitz’s views on training took a radical turn after he read Andy Grove’s Why Training is the Boss’s Job. Reading this book, in his words, “changed his career.” With his newfound value for training, he began teaching his team what his basic expectations were. He said, “I was shocked by what happened next. The performance of my team instantly improved. Product managers that I previously thought were hopeless became effective. Pretty soon, I was managing the highest performing team in the company. Based on this experience, after starting Loudcloud, I heavily invested in training. I credit that investment with much of our eventual success. And the whole thing started with a simple decision to train my people and an even simpler training document.”
In Horowitz’s experience, training made sub-par product managers effective and a formerly mediocre team the highest-performing group of employees at Netscape. It’s amazing to consider that all of this was brought about from his decisions to train and to keep training simple.
Interestingly, Horowitz also hit on the link between employee training and employee retention. In his article he mentioned that at one point he took the time to read all of the exit interviews for the entire company of Netscape. What he found was that most employees left because of two things:
1) They disliked management (“generally the employees were appalled by the lack of guidance, career development and feedback they were receiving”)
2) They weren’t learning anything (“the company wasn’t investing in the employees”). This supports the idea that training affects people on an emotional level, be it good or bad.
When training is haphazard or missing altogether, employees experience feelings of disgust and mistrust toward their employers. But, when delivered in ways that promote learning and provide the things needed for success, training encourages positive emotional responses. The result of the latter is increased employee retention and a decreased bottom line.
Training is the key to ensuring that employees are skilled, competent, satisfied, and loyal to their respective employers. But, only training that promotes learning can accomplish this.
Types of Learning That Work for Adults
Adults won’t benefit from just any type of training; they need training that promotes knowledge retention. In other words, they require training that facilitates learning. It’s crucial to note that training and learning are not interchangeable.
Surely you’ve attended an employee-training session that did not result in learning. Perhaps you sat in a classroom or at a conference table as a speaker spewed information that you had no emotional attachment to whatsoever. More than that, you also had no vested interest in the subject matter. As the trainer droned on, you might have discreetly checked your text messages or email. You may have taken some physical and mental notes, but when you left the training session, you hadn’t learned anything. This is a fairly common scenario for companies that use an in-person training model. Because of the bore factor and the lack of deep learning that results from it, in-person training may be on its way out.
In-Person Training Is On Its Way Out
When it comes to equipping employees with needed skills, many corporations opt for the traditional, in-person training model that they have used for decades. While this may be sufficient for certain learners, not everyone responds well to traditional learning.
“What type of training do adults respond best to?” is a question that must be answered before an employee-training program that facilitates learning can be implemented. While there are many different styles of learning that can be helpful in various settings, informal/experiential learning tends to be the most useful for adults. The article Research Shows Companies Should Encourage Social Learning states, “Social learning is as powerful as it is undervalued and underestimated.
In fact, it accounts for at least 75 percent of the knowledge people attain in the workplace. Humans used to learn primarily informally, or socially. Today, the emphasis has shifted from organic learning to traditional, classroom-style knowledge acquisition, which is by no means a bad thing. However, when it is enforced and informal learning is ignored or discouraged, companies pay the price of low levels of information retention and skill development and high levels of employee disengagement.” This disengagement only contributes to the aforementioned issue of heightened rates of turnover.
Traditional training is quite the opposite of informal/experiential learning. However, this does not mean that employers should forego offering structured training programs. What it does mean is that company leaders should consider intentionally designing informal learning programs for employees. A learning management system may be the best tool for this task.
Will eLearning Replace Traditional Training Models in the Workplace?
Experiential learning takes place through a number of mediums, one being eLearning, also known as online learning. Many businesses and corporations have made the switch from a training model that is primarily in-person to either a blended training model (part traditional, part online) or one that takes place 100 percent online. As a result, most of these organizations enjoy a healthier budget, happier employees, and increased employee retention.
Online learning is nothing if not inherently attractive and enjoyable. It effortlessly promotes knowledge retention and experiential learning in ways that traditional training simply cannot. For example, eLearning…
- Facilitates experiential learning
Most forms of training don’t foster experiential learning, but eLearning is a different story. eLearning systems have built-in social learning features like realtime chat, user profiles, blogs, web conferencing, and social media outlets. These features encourage the informal, experiential acquisition of information. Social features such as these are popular with employees and may be a wise aspect of an employee-retention strategy.
- Encourages information retention through sensory cueing
Sensory cueing plays a sizeable role in the learning process. In order for a training experience to trigger knowledge retention, learners’ senses—particularly their auditory and visual senses—must be appealed to. In the journal Effect of Sensory Cueing in Learning and Retention, authors Hughes, McIntyre, Dragoin, and Nolan wrote, “Since auditory processing of information plays a primary role in the storage of information, it was hypothesized that auditory cueing, i.e. presenting sound cues along with the usual visual exposure, would provide maximum retention.” eLearning cues both the auditory and visual senses simultaneously as well as individually through graphic organizers (charts, diagrams, graphs, semantic maps, etc.), images, videos, and sounds that directly correlate with the visual information being presented.
- Utilizes color theory
Training that is delivered totally or partially through an LMS (learning management system) often utilizes color theory, which is something that in-person training can’t do as easily. The article Boosting Knowledge Retention in eLearning Infographics explains, “Using colors to present content fires up the brain and stimulates intelligence across all levels which, in turn, forges more and stronger connections and aids memory formation and learning. Color can…be used to organize information more coherently. Colors also grab eyeballs readily and keep us hooked for longer lengths of time. Colors…help people remember because they affect our moods and evoke emotions. Warm tones like red, yellow, and orange excite the brain and make content memorable.”
- Erases language barriers
The quickest way to render a training program ineffective is to offer it in a language that learners don’t understand well. With LMS-based training, this is never an issue. Because most LMSs can be launched in a variety of major languages, learners can access training materials in their native languages. Of course, images, which are a key component of eLearning, have a universal language and therefore need no translation.
Online learning facilitates the human need to learn experientially and uses sensory cues to prompt knowledge retention and skill development. Because of this, it should be considered as a viable solution to the high rates of employee turnover and lack of workforce competency that so many organizations face. Company leaders may want to test this theory by training their employees fully or partially through an eLearning system.