Savings in commutes, greener credentials, less disruption to working hours, and lower training costs – the cost-effectiveness of eLearning is now all but undisputed. These benefits were among the first bandied around by HR departments to justify the spend on eLearning materials.
That was around two decades ago when the first crop of eLearning platforms and courses transformed from a novel, experimental concept to something seen as fundamental to business strategy. This transition isn’t dissimilar to the first few years of businesses adopting cloud technologies.
But beyond the cost savings of hiring speakers and providing for the logistics of traditional classroom style sessions, what are some of the other benefits of eLearning that we’ve discovered over the years?
1. Increased Likelihood of Participation
Learners, not unlike university students, are constantly trying to juggle tasks and deadlines. Attending a classroom session or lecture seems less important than getting that report on your boss’s desk before the day ends.
Quotas and deliverables will never go away, which means optional training courses, even if the learner is interested in them, will easily lose when weighed against time-critical tasks. You can make courses mandatory, but that will only guarantee attendance, not engagement.
eLearning platforms and courses allow learners to check out the material at their own pace. Instead of a session that is only happening at 3pm in Meeting Room A today, they can go through the course in their own time, which reduces disruption to their regular workflow. And people are capable of finding time when not pressured to choose between tasks and courses.
Employees finish the learning material 40 to 60 percent faster through e-learning than when in a classroom setting, according to Brandon Hall Group. That’s some improvement.
2. Better Retention
Learners can retain 25 to 60 percent of information from eLearning modules, as opposed to just 8 to 10 percent from classroom training, according to the Research Institute of America.
Some of the gap can be attributed to the relevance of the material. Online programmes can be customised based on the roles and needs of individual learners. Furthermore, new lessons and concepts can be integrated faster into eLearning courses, keeping them up-to-date without the need to hire instructors and conduct workshops all over again.
Many companies struggle to track learning back to the business’ bottom line. eLearning solutions allow learners to learn only what they need. And perhaps most importantly for businesses, they can be developed to measure if learners , for example, are actually using what they’ve learned to improve performance on a day to day basis. Application is integral to transform theoretical learning into actions and behaviours.
IBM’s Your Learning uses a two-badge incentive system to reward employees for learning: one for completing courses, and the other for skills application. The company has found that skills badges have a higher impact on performance, underlining the importance of giving employees a way to actualise the skill, and not merely channels to acquire it.
3. Bolsters Loyalty
From a staff point of view, loyalty used to be associated by management solely to compensation. It makes sense at first glance: the higher the pay, the more likely your staff are to stay. Many managers still think this way. From a customer, partner or external audience point of view, they are more likely to remain engaged with your organisation if they feel they are playing an important role in mutual growth and are aligning with a business that cares about their success.This is key as well when training channel partners who will be better partners if they feel supported and engaged with you over your competition.
While compensation remains a top consideration for the modern employee, their motivations for staying with a company goes beyond paycheck deep. The two generations that make up the majority of the workforce put a premium on development. Around 87 percent of millennials rate career growth and development as incredibly significant in a job. Gen Z, who has had to pay the most for their education due to rising tuition rates, are similarly attracted to companies who are as willing to invest in developing their skills as they have.
Research shows that the price of ignorance is high. Over half of employees in the UK will quit if employers don’t provide sufficient and consistent learning–some 31 percent already have at least once.
4. High Level of Personalisation
Like traditional classroom style learning, the first online platforms didn’t leave much room for bespoke education. How the subject matter was taught was largely dictated by the technological limitations of the time. The same cookie-cutter curriculum and modules were used across all learners.
We’ve come a long way since then. Today, eLearning portals can be dynamic tools that adapt to a person’s role, skill level, and learning preferences. Your Learning, IBM’s in-house system, can create custom recommendations for courses and programs using an employee’s proficiencies and their job roles. Pilots at helicopter agency Air Methods are quizzed by their learning system, which then uses their test scores to determine areas of improvement and further learning.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning-enabled eLearning uncovers and addresses gaps in knowledge at the employee level – a near impossible task in a classroom setting with multiple learners and limited instructor hours.
5. Reduces Your Company’s Carbon Footprint
Talking about the advantages of eLearning, savings in time and convenience often take centre stage. But there’s one huge benefit to online learning: less waste.
With online learning, there are no materials to print. While two or three pages may seem innocent enough, multiplied across hundreds of learners and many thousands of companies doing it globally, that stacks up to quite the pile of paper.
Yet the number of paper face-to-face meetings consume is minuscule compared to the greenhouse gasses we produce from travel. eLearning courses produce as little as 85 percent fewer carbon emissions than face-to-face sessions and this is a big plus for those looking to improve their corporate responsibility