Whilst flexible working and a generous benefits package certainly help with morale and reducing burnout, it's also crucial to offer your employees support that develops their skills and adds value to their specific role. As such, employee training is key to the growth of every small business, and alongside employee happiness and work culture, this should be a top priority in order to boost the skills of your staff.
Whether it’s specific sales, marketing or leadership training that you or your employees need, it’s easy to turn to traditional group or 1-2-1 training. But as anyone who has sought these services will know, this can end up being an expensive and often inconvenient solution. If you're looking for a more cost-effective and time-efficient way of offering your employees a way of upskilling, then it may be worth considering looking into e-learning.
The growth of e-learning
Where e-learning really trumps offline training is with the sheer volume of specialist courses available. Rather than getting a vague overview like you would with a one-day course, you’ll get an opportunity to dive deeper into different aspects of your subject area with courses tailored to specific experience levels.
It’s also a lot easier to suss out whether a course will be suitable for your specific needs, as online learning offers clear overviews and learning outcomes. E-learning platforms like Udemy, Skillshare and Coursera, to name a few, are filled with valuable content right at your fingertips, and have become popular options with busy startup owners looking for a way to upskill their employees.
Often, e-learning courses are a fraction of the price of group training delivered in person - understandably so. You can get significantly more hours of lessons plus course materials compared to in-person training due to its online accessibility and wider reach.
E-learning courses are usually cheaper due to the volume of courses being sold, and more often than not (depending on where you go and how much you are willing to spend) there’s little compromise on quality. Something else to consider is the availability of free or ongoing support offered by the course leader, even if that’s in the form of an exclusive Facebook group, the value of which is priceless and often considered an add-on for most in-person trainers.
Retention and engagement
The biggest challenge with face-to-face training is the retention of information beyond those training sessions. Usually in-person training sessions are jam-packed with information with no time dedicated to practical application or feedback/ critique. Where traditional training falls short, digital training offers new possibilities beyond video lectures and questionnaires, with interactive lessons, worksheets and 24/7 support becoming the norm. The freedom to access lessons, converse with other students and share ideas is imperative to retention and engagement, which in turn helps students learn better and work through courses at a faster pace.
It goes without saying that a lot of people struggle with learning in a classroom setting and often those in traditional training find that there's no convenient time to learn during work hours. When there are no time constraints, students can get into a good learning mindset where they’re not being forced to be ready to learn or worrying about projects at work.
As an employer, the biggest frustration is trying to book in a time that works for the business and for the teacher. Often group sessions have set times, locations and dates and if you’re training a team or introducing training as part of your onboarding, this can be a headache you could do without. E-learning offers total flexibility to suit learners and employers as standard.
Finding a trainer you trust
Unlike a lot of offline training, online course leaders have to work harder to position themselves as experts. Online profiles, portfolios, reviews and course completion rates are all openly available and allow you to make a more informed decision in comparison to having a look on someone’s website.
With courses offered by online learning platforms, everyone is on a level playing field and the honest course feedback is there for all to see.
There are numerous benefits to online learning - we’ve touched on only a few. While it still takes time to look around and find a course that really suits what you’re looking for, you’ll find more options to fit your specific needs. There’s no loss of interactivity and there’s more focus on engagement and information retention compared to direct training as well as coming in at lower cost and increased flexibility. This makes online learning the ideal choice for busy startups and SME owners who want to upskill their staff.
About the Author
Kaine Shutler is the Managing Director of Plume, a specialist digital training technology company that builds custom learning systems and offers marketing services to clients worldwide. Beginning in web design, the business has evolved to meet clients’ needs: developing e-learning platforms, providing instructional design services and delivering digital marketing.