The pandemic is not the only thing accelerating the growth of distance learning. While it certainly hastened the move to online experiences, the movement has been picking up steam for years and is poised to continue to do so. As Talent Development leaders create their mix of employee education programs, there are many reasons why building a portfolio of virtual offerings is in their best interest.
The Trends Supporting eLearning
#1 – Increasing importance of development.
Having opportunities to grow is one of the top drivers of a great corporate culture, yet only 29% of employees are “very satisfied” with the career advancement opportunities available within their organizations. While the desire for education is increasing, it can be challenging for businesses to effectively scale traditional training. It is easier to provide a larger number of people with expanded access to development using virtual offerings.
#2 – Evolving work habits and expectations.
As many companies operate in a remote or hybrid environment, training has had to evolve to support staff who are no longer in the same location. Additionally, the workforce expects programming that suits their lifestyles. 58% of employees reported having a preference to learn at their own pace and in their homes. Online solutions allow individuals to access education when they want it and engage in just-in-time learning. After all, it’s quite simple to assign materials (or have a repository of curriculum available) at a moment’s notice.
#3 – Providing opportunities for risk taking in a safe space.
Most leaders tout the importance of failing forward, and it can be intimidating to make mistakes in front of peers. This fear may limit the effectiveness of some in-person activities such as role playing or scenario-based learning. Using virtual exercises, participants can interact with the material and make errors without an audience. This practice encourages risk taking and can promote the success of future in-person interactions by allowing staff to build skill independently before being asked to put their knowledge on display.
#4 – Expanding need for and interest in upskilling.
As the world changes so do the talents that people will require to advance their careers. The push to develop different capabilities is not lost on individuals with 74% of workers being willing to learn new skills or re-train in order to remain employable. To pursue a new job or function, more than half of employees would like to build the necessary skills on their own through online courses, books or other media. Digital curriculum empowers talent development professionals to personalize and target trainings to the individual.
#5 – Achieving productivity boosts at pace.
74% of the workforce feels they aren’t reaching full potential due to a lack of development opportunities. Through virtual education, staff can often access information and complete a course much more quickly than an in-person class (60% faster in fact). Using online trainings helps individuals build needed or desired skills at pace, even boosting productivity by 25%.
#6 – Realizing cost savings.
Virtual trainings are not without their own sets of expenses. Still, they tend to be cheaper than face-to-face offerings. If companies have remote and hybrid team members, businesses can often save a great deal in travel alone. Corporations may also save in soft costs, like time invested in the class and time-to-productivity as well as other hard costs like facilitator fees or material production.
#7 – Prioritizing eco-friendly processes.
Speaking of material production, organizations that are committed to reducing their carbon footprint should perk up at the sound of eLearning. Providing distance learning consumes an average of 90% less energy and produces 85% fewer CO2 emissions than in person experiences. Adding digital offerings to a development portfolio can factor into long-term sustainability goals.
#8 – Amplifying engagement.
It’s clear that people and corporations benefit from online experiences when considering the holistic impact of these trends. One study even revealed that providing eLearning increases employee engagement by up to 18%, which is an important business outcome in and of itself. Engagement also contributes to other positive results, such as higher retention rates and improved productivity.
Considerations for Digital Programming
I’ve shared several statistics that highlight the positive impact of digital courses, and it is important that companies do not solely invest in virtual curriculum. Remember:
- Different people prefer different environments. While many appreciate virtual lessons, others are likely to gravitate toward in-person programs and may learn better in that atmosphere. Be mindful to extend a variety of experiences to support all staff.
- Face-to-face connection remains vital. As humans, we are wired to connect in person. Even though we’ve gotten much better at working remotely, there is still value in face-to-face connection as a means to further trust, understanding and collaboration.
- Learning retention matters. The Forgetting Curve affects all types of education, so be sure to use tactics that enhance recall after virtual lessons. Reminders and post-session activities, like those in the Course Companions available for each Emergenetics® digital learning course, will improve memory.
Embracing online trainings, in addition to in-person experiences, is important to a business’s learning strategy. When leaders commit to providing development through a variety of media, they can realize significant upside in their investments through increased employee engagement and productivity as well as advancements to the organization’s bottom line and growth.
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