I am pretty sure that most of you have heard the contemporary parable about corporate trainings. Here’s how it goes:
The CEO and the CFO of a big company are discussing the necessity of additional training for their employees. The CFO asks: What if we invest in this training and our people still leave the company at some point? The CEO replies: What if we don’t and they stay? The moral is pretty obvious: in 99% of the cases the CEO will win the argument and the training will take place. As it usually turns out though, this is easier said than done. So, what types of challenges are corporate trainings facing nowadays? And where do virtual classrooms and Learning Management Systems fit into the proverbial picture?
A slightly different ending
I can easily see the parable ending differently. The CFO smiles, opens his notebook, and reads from a spreadsheet: for each of our 100 employees there are X USD for travelling expenses, X USD for hotel accommodation, X USD for daily business trip expenses, another X USD for travel insurance, etc. And we are not even taking into account the cost of the time that our people will be away from their desks while still earning a salary. Oh, and I almost forgot the cost of the training itself. Now, this puts the saying about the weight of a good employee in gold into perspective, doesn’t it?
If you haven’t organized corporate trainings involving all of the above-mentioned elements, you should just take my word for it. It is expensive as heck, and there are so many additional and potential complications related to them that I can’t even begin to list them all. In one word: it’s a nightmare.
Even if we assume that the teacher will visit your company and provide the training on site, there are still a ton of more or less predictable (and a bunch of unpredictable ones!) complications of a different nature that are involved. I would also imagine that professional trainers do not necessarily live next door. I am not talking about a location that is 100km away – think New Zealand, for example. And again, if you haven’t seen employees stuck inside a training room for a countless number of hours, take my word for it, it is not the most inspiring scene for any lecturer. The results from these types of trainings are questionable, at best. If only there was a way to avoid all of that hassle and still improve your employees’ qualifications, and even for less money, if possible.
Yes, there is a way to save money, provide more engaging and interactive trainings to your employees, and even give them the opportunity to learn in the comfort of their own homes. As expected, the answer is e-learning. All you need to do is pick the form of the training – with or without live interactions with the trainers – and make sure that everyone understands what is needed to attend the course (a good internet connection, an appropriate device, and maybe a camera and headset). In this way you can immediately cross off one more excuse from the list – travel – because… who cannot go home?
Are we all on the same page?
It’s relatively easy if you have to deal with a smaller company with only 10-20 employees. But when there are over 100, in two or more offices, with multiple course sessions, you are faced with a different set of challenges. Have you seen the course handouts for these 100 people? If you have, then you must have also heard the cry of the trees.
And then the fun begins: dare to guess how many of your students will have trouble finding the handouts? How many of them will use this as an excuse for not being prepared for the next session? How many of them actually care about the handouts? Can you hear the trees crying even louder now? They don’t even think about bringing a pen! Remember this mantra: the world is going digital, folks!
During the session you will find it “amusing” how many people are not on the same page and are not following along with what everyone else is doing. In all honesty, this cannot be solved merely by digitizing the same handouts. The trainer has to put a decent amount of effort into it if they want to capture and retain the audience’s attention. The trainer must use various resources ranging from audio and video files to tests and charts. Well, there is one problem that a virtual classroom solves for the trainer: with a simple click it ensures that all of the students are on the same page. But in the end it’s still the lecturer who is expected to create a lesson so engaging that the students remain focused until the very last minute.
The new parable
How the story about the CEO and CFO ends depends on your role in the parable. If you are the type of CEO who is willing to build a team and not just view employees as being disposable, you will know what the right thing to do is. If you are a CFO who can see beyond the immediate ROI , you are already more than just “the financial guy.” If you are the type of coach/trainer that the above two are looking for, you will not merely work to earn your paycheck, but you will also go the extra mile to provide a memorable and result-oriented experience for the employees. If you are cut from this cloth and you think that one can never have too much knowledge, you will proactively look for additional options to improve your qualifications and contribute to your company’s growth. It’s not just “learning for learning’s sake.” It has to be an integral part of a business strategy. And if all parties involved have their eyes set on a common goal, you are on the right path. Where this path will eventually lead you is the subject of another article.