As we move through the fourth quarter of an exciting year in learning and development, new technology and learner trends have emerged transforming the industry for the better.
Video, for instance, has become employees’ learning method of choice. A recent survey by BizLibrary of 1,800+ employees revealed that employees felt video was more effective for learning new things, improving performance, and preparing them for the future than the more traditional methods of training, including instructor-led training (ILT), virtual class sessions, and click and advance e-learning.
This knowledge is invaluable to remaining on the cutting edge of training development. That said, what good is this knowledge of trends if we don’t have a sound approach to putting it all together to ultimately answer the golden question: How do we create effective training that employees will actually want to use?
To begin, let’s step back to the 10,000 foot view and look at the main ingredients of an effective and engaging employee training. For best results employee training should be:
Each training should speak to a very specific subset of people and should include tone, ideas, and language that is unique to them and their position within your organization.
Pre-training needs assessment and analysis are helpful to initially gain an understanding of your target demographic of employees, and what segments or buckets actually exist in your organization that you have the opportunity to speak to at a much more personalized level.
This information collected can then help inform the next stages of training development, including how to present the information in a way that will make the largest impact, lead to more retention and ultimately learner engagement.
The importance of aesthetic quality in your training content cannot be understated.
We have become spoiled by consuming content with high production value on a whim multiple times a day. We expect it. When content is of poor quality, we turn it off. It is distracting and promptly loses our attention. So many Learning Management System (LMS) providers and course creators are behind the times in keeping up with technology – specifically when it comes to providing tools to make high quality training elements easy to create.
As discussed in the introduction, if you aren’t yet, you should be utilizing video for training. It is not only preferred by learners but incredibly effective at delivering information.
A word of caution: do not assume you can jump right into creating video training with your cell phone and iMovie. Again, we are spoiled by quality, and this needs to translate to any content you decide to create. Your audio needs to be of excellent clarity, and your video needs to be properly formatted and easy to follow. The list goes on and on. My intention is not to scare you away from using video, but to advise you take the appropriate steps to preserve professional quality and either invest in outside creation, or continue engaging with content like this to learn how to do it well yourself.
Training content should be very fluid. Each learning segment should all flow into the next seamlessly and with ease. This will keep your learner comfortable and not distracted.
Make sure your company branding is consistent throughout any training and development you create. If you are using logos or brand colors, take the steps to ensure they are appearing appropriately. If they are not, employees will notice and the perceived value of the training you worked so hard to develop will go down accordingly – as will retention and interest.
My motto is that training should be sexy but not distracting. Employee training sexy?! Yes, absolutely if you want to actually engage your learners instead of just forcing them to sit through required content.
Meet your learners where they are. Don’t settle for a training solution or LMS that does not allow users to engage fully on their mobile devices or remotely. These are the tools your employees are most comfortable with and use on a daily basis. It would be a mistake to take them out of their natural, comfortable environment, in order to train them.
Here, we are also discussing accessibility in the literal sense. Accessibility laws and considerations should be taken very seriously. Make sure to provide captioning, scripts and any other necessary content to accommodate any learners that may have trouble working through your training in its default state.
This all goes to the effect of making training easy and natural for the employee to engage in. If they can get to it as easily as they can get to Facebook, that is the goal. There should be no hoops to jump through to access training, no constant installations or java updates just to participate.
Keep this in mind when shopping for a new LMS or evaluating your current provider. There are a lot of new exciting options in the market today, and I urge you to explore them and to allow yourself to let go of the idea that your current LMS is all there is (hint: your LMS sales rep doesn’t want you to know this).
Constantly remind your learner of the end-result. This is how to create buy-in when training is perhaps not required, but ideal – or is required but needs big internal push. Remind learners of the end result throughout the training and throughout all communications about the course.
People like to track their accomplishments and successes.
We’ve seen the recent dominance of the gamification of individual fitness via FitBit and other products where people track their fitness progress. To utilize effectively for training and development, pair this tracking with reminders of the end goal and end results and this will keep motivation up and create buy-in from even the toughest of critics or holdouts.
One cannot argue with results. That’s why testimonials, interactions and conversations with real people regarding the importance of training is so critical. Sprinkle these in your training to drive home those end results, show it has been done by others and create the possibility of success in the mind of your learner.
On a broad level, these four components will help to ensure success of your employee training program. Training that is targeted, beautiful, accessible, and results-driven will be the most effective and engaging for employees. They may even start asking for more…