How eLearning Fits Into Your Human Capital Development Plan

Wealth is simply potential actualized. One of the greatest sources of undeveloped potential is human potential – the machines, processes and mechanisms that motor the world are all conceived, designed, built and operated by human beings.

People naturally want to grow and learn and will be discontent in a situation where this is not possible. The continual turnover caused by this dissatisfaction is extremely costly to an organization committed to growth. For practical economic reasons alone, companies cannot afford to ignore the enormous unlocked potential of their own workforce.

For an enterprise to remain successful, its workforce must be engaged, motivated, skilled, and dedicated. Hiring and retaining the best candidates is only one component in making that happen. The only way your workforce can keep up with changing demands, adapt to new technology, create novel processes and break through to their potential is through high quality training. Investing in human potential allows organizations to tap new talent and bring workers up through their own ranks. This builds loyalty, developing a solid organizational culture and an engaged and committed workforce.

Training serves three essential functions at an operational level: it covers legally mandated materials for safety and liability, it prepares employees for changes in the market and it produces superstars who surpass expectations. In addition to teaching proficiencies in technology, specialized processes and company practices, training can help employees work harder, smarter, faster and more creatively.

There is only one problem: traditional training is expensive.

Training doesn’t just incur expenses from the training providers, technology and materials – it takes employees away from their workload and interrupts production. It’s an interruption to normal work processes and it can seem like investing in long-term innovation is less important than immediate outcomes.

As a result, training is one of the first areas cut in lean times. In the global recession, corporations slashed investments in learning in favor of keeping staff working and avoiding layoffs. Cutting training has costs in addition to harming long term innovation – it can leave employees disconnected from your organization’s mission and purpose.  

Over the past few decades, though, technology has finally lived up to its promise in providing eLearning that can not only compete with but in fact outperform trainer-led classroom training.
Here’s a brief introduction to elements that only eLearning can provide:

  • The learner determines a learning schedule that allows for flexibility in workflow management
  • Training is not locked to a specific location
  • Not everyone learns in the same way or at the same pace
  • Computer skills required for the course benefit users throughout their careers
  • Users can skim areas they already know and concentrate on developing new skills
  • Off-site, remote and even international workers can be included in training
  • Users learn self-confidence and self-reliance
  • Those who take responsibility for their own education reap more rewards over the long term

One of the most compelling reasons online training may actually be more effective for organizations is that it can support a more committed and motivated group. Anyone can sit through a training session, but active learning requires dedication and willingness.

eLearning improves on the classroom experience

In the 1990s, the advent of computer-based training (CBT) helped support economic expansion as it enabled training to reach new audiences all over the world. Moving training online continues this trend of expanding the potential audience of professional development, giving employees a much wider choice of learning options beyond conventional face-to-face classroom training.

Owing to global labor changes, corporations are blending online, social learning and other options to accommodate a multi-generational workforce, remote employees, offshoring and contract workers.

Let’s discuss the many ways elearning can support your human capital development strategy.

Employees as internal customers

A balanced enterprise is one that satisfies all its customers, internal and external. External customers provide the revenue, and the internal customers on the management team provide the direction, but the internal customer that is too often overlooked is the workforce.

Employees are responsible for implementing strategy and dealing directly with customers, so it is vital to the health of an enterprise to make sure the employees want to be there. A motivated workforce can turn an average organization into a cultural force like Apple or Google.

Employees frequently grumble about required courses preventing them from getting work done when it conflicts with their scheduled tasks. However, valuable professional advancement training is a perk that workers ask for on a regular basis. The solution to this conflict is a wider range of lessons on a schedule that the workers can select for themselves.

Insightful leaders prepare for the future by making sure there are qualified leaders under them who can take over projects as needed. The right combination of skills and experience for the next generation of leaders is easy to come by when your organization fosters the right kind of training.

Providing training in the skills your organization needs doesn’t have to mean a drain on resources or excessive operational expenses. Online leadership training allows more ambitious employees to self-regulate their experience. As a bonus, everyone in the workforce feels more valuable when they can point to examples of promotion from within.

Spread knowledge faster

Staying competitive means repurposing on a dime. Campaigns, goals and even business operations can change quickly and need to communicated across the enterprise. A great deal of training experience points to the conclusions that classroom learning works best with 12 or fewer attendants. For a large organization or commercial enterprises, creating that optimal learning environment takes a long time to cycle through the workforce. The only other option is a cursory introduction to major changes that leaves many questions unanswered and a disorganized response. Both options run into problems with scheduling due to project deadlines, sick days and emergencies that take attendants from the class.

With distributed elearning sessions, workers can decide where their priorities lie and take control of their scheduling. For the simplest compliance concepts that would be a waste of time for a classroom instructor to detailed in-depth personal lessons that are far too cost-prohibitive across the employee base, elearning is the go-to option

Assured compliance and protection from liability

“I didn’t know” is no excuse for a crime, but “The company fostered a culture of indifference” is legally actionable. Companies are required by a hefty stack of case law to clearly state what is acceptable and not acceptable and make sure that every employee is aware of these guidelines.
As the business world has become more diverse, there have been a growing number of language, cultural and personality difficulties that can derail critical operations. Assuring compliance with safety regulations, and understanding of personal responsibilities in appropriate communication falls squarely on the shoulders of management.

eLearning makes compliance easier is with interactive displays that test understanding, rather than just distributing a piece of paper or a video. Online training can demonstrate on a personal level the benefits of working together and the penalties for cutting corners. Everyone must take definitive actions to confirm that they understand and intend to comply, providing an opportunity for organizations to reduce risk and liability.

Moving to mobile

BYOD (bring your own device) in the workplace has graduated from trend to movement. Companies save money because employees are buying and maintaining their own work computers. Workers are getting more done by bringing work home and on the road. Sales have increased because the necessary information is right there when the prospect needs them.

There is no doubt the the workforce is going mobile, and elearning is perfectly poised to follow workers wherever they go. A growing number of workers conduct business from home or remote sites and coming to the office just for training, or delaying training until they can come in, just isn’t practical.

Deploying elearning by mobile device has also benefited from geo-fencing technology. This means that a course or module can be launched based on the GPS location of the device, so a warehousing lesson would pop up when the employee is near the warehouse or a particular site within the warehouse. Salespeople can complete sales lessons just before or after meeting with potential customers.

Summary: What eLearning can do

The convergence of mobile workers and rapidly developing technology make elearning a flexible, cost-effective and agile option for investing in the future of an innovative and productive workforce. An enterprise can deploy training in the Cloud to share the latest trends in real time with a highly educated workforce. Over time, the training becomes a perk that attracts new employees and adds value to employment packages. You can showcase the values and priorities of your company, ensuring that your employees are educated brand advocates who can solve problems with company goals in mind.

If you’re looking at your workforce with a keen eye towards innovation and growth well into the future, choose elearning to ensure your employees have opportunities to grow, on their own terms.

(Image credit: jacqueline.poggi’s Flickr)