How to Successfully Implement eLearning (and Realise the Benefits) in Your Workplace

5 Reasons Why eLearning Benefits Your Organisation

Introducing or revamping employee training in your organisation is no small feat. Enter: Elearning. Done right, it can reduce business overheads, increase efficiency, and help organisations better recruit and retain top talent.

Not only are these benefits very real, but you’ll find that they help grow your business and improve your employee engagement now and in the long-term.

In this article, we’ll walk you through how eLearning fits into the workplace dynamic, the benefits both organisations and employees can expect, and how to successfully implement an eLearning initiative in your organisation.

Contents

What is a elearning
Why is an eLearning platform so important in the workplace
Elearning workplace benefits for business and employees
How to successfully implement eLearning with the right platform

What is eLearning?

The term eLearning (or electronic learning) describes the delivery of learning, training and development through digital means. This means resources and assessments are administered through computers, tablets and even phones, offering users anytime, anywhere access to learning. Most often, eLearning is delivered and managed through a platform like a learning management system (LMS).

Why is an eLearning platform so important in the workplace?

We’ll get the heaviest question out of the way first. Elearning is important because it offers benefits to both business and employees by:

  • Saving time and money
  • Providing a scalable business solution
  • Offering a personalised and flexible experience
  • Being accessible to people of all abilities and knowledge levels
  • Providing people with ongoing and consistent access to crucial learning resources.

Basically, an eLearning solution is one of your best kept (employee value proposition) secrets. Let’s get into it.

Elearning inyourworkplace

In-house education or learning and development, whether formal and informal, are not new ideas in the workplace. Elearning, in its own way, is not a new idea in the workplace. But it can be administered poorly, so that both administrators (organisations) and learners (employees) miss out on the unique benefits of a digital learning experience.

Consider the following questions:

  • How often do our employees learn during the course of work? Infrequently, frequently, not at all? Is this impacted by the technology available to them?
  • What drives or triggers that learning? Is it employees themselves? I.e., Are they challenged by their tasks, driven by curiosity or is it a coincidental trigger?
  • Are there any bottlenecks? Are employees overwhelmed by information? Is there a lack of relevant resources available? Is it hard to access necessary resources? Do employees have enough time to learn?
  • What solutions do employees currently use to address their learning needs? Do they turn to written materials or video? How do they communicate with their peers when they need help?

How you answer these will provide the roadmap for implementing an eLearning initiative — such as an LMS — in your workplace.

Why you need to think about how your employees learn

We ask you to consider these questions so you can think about how eLearning could be optimised for your unique circumstances. Elearning is never a one-size-fits-all scenario, nor is it a one-off exercise. A successful implementation (more on this in a bit) depends on how you tailor it to your end users’ needs and preferences. Determining the moments of need, necessary support and motivations of your employees will help you better plan for introducing (or revamping) eLearning in your organisation.

Elearning workplace benefits for business and employees

LinkedIn Learning’s2021 Workplace Learning Reportfound that skill building and career growth are the keys to winning over most of your workforce (aka Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z). They are inherently career-minded, which is a win for your organisation if you provide the right tools with which to harness that energy.

Online learning is that tool, and it comes with a host of benefits for both organisations and their employees.

Business benefits

While a business expenditure, eLearning is one of the keys to future-proofing your workforce, and by extension, safeguarding your future growth and success. This is true no matter the method you choose, whether that’s an RTO, a third-party content provider like Udemy, or an LMS.

Efficiency

Ah, the process of organising face-to-face training and events. There’s the time taken to research venues, instructors, providers, travel, food, resources, to assess the logistics of employees taking time away from their priorities and projects to attend training (not to mention the mental shift back into work afterwards). Think about the hourly cost of your HR or L&D specialists committing to planning alone.

One of the more underestimated downsides to this approach is that it isn’t a standardised process, which means that learning itself isn’t consistent. And inconsistent education is a business risk on two fronts:

  1. Employees could go without important company information, such as company policies and compliance procedures.
  2. Values, messaging and processes could be misinterpreted between key personnel like managers.

Elearning provides that consistent, familiar and standardised approach to education. That consistency is thanks to the efficiency of eLearning software, which can automate many of the tedious tasks that your L&D specialists would otherwise have to micromanage.

Platforms like LMSs ensure that while every student enjoys a personalised learning pathway, there are no hurdles or delays to their journey. The system or site looks the same every time they log in. It functions as they expect, with easy navigation (think: menu in the top left or right corner). Content can be found through a quick search. Said content links to their job roles and your organisation’s capability frameworks. And when employees can complete training on a dedicated, streamlined platform—that is not subject to the interpretation of a F2F trainer, either—they start to beaccountable for their own learning,which helps to create a more productive workforce engaged in a culture of continuous learning.

Scalable

Scalability refers to designing a system so that it doesn’t need to be reconfigured in order to maintain an effective performance. The sustainability of eLearning in your workplace comes down its scalability. It’s the quality that saves you both time and money on eLearning in the long run.

Google’s first vice president of engineering once said, “At scale, everything breaks.” Consider trying to search for a contact and number in your phone, where you may have 50 contacts. Pretty easy to find. But when you look in a phone book (remember those?), there may be 10 contacts with the same name, each with a different number.

This is a problem in terms of discovery, resource availability, consistency of data, and speed. And it’s why you want an online learning solution that can grow at scale as your organisational goals and user base does. The key advantages of scalable eLearning architecture are:

  • Convenience: There’s a minimum level of service required from both you and the eLearning provider whenever you’re expanding your user base.
  • Increased efficiency: System power can be increased or decreased right at the moment of need.
  • Customisation: The infrastructure itself can be configured to your needs, with many white-labelled platforms acting as blank canvases for your branding.
  • Cost savings: At the outset, a scalable system means you’re only paying for what you use in the present—not every feature thatmightbe useful eventually. (Handy for convincing executives size of technology investments.)
  • Future planning: You won’t have to manage painful change if a system that’s embedded in your organisation’s processes no longer serves your needs. It also means you can better plan not only future learning initiatives, but investments elsewhere in your organisation. And if priorities change, you don’t have to worry that your solution no longer suits your needs.

Return on investment

We suggest that you look at the outlay for investing in eLearning as just that: You’re making an investment. It’s much like buying a house. With a little care and a lot of research, you’ll find that yourreturn on investment(ROI) is as much about thevalue createdgain.

Consider the cost of recruitment and in-house education. Both will likely require a large outlay from your organisation for marketing, content creation and administration, amongst other things. The benefits created from offering eLearning as an employee value proposition will not only provide great ROI, but see you makeless investments going forward.42% of millennialssay that learning and development is the most important benefit when deciding where to work.Researchhas shown that employees want the followingprofessional development opportunities:

  • Leadership training
  • Professional certifications
  • Technical skills development
  • Soft and interpersonal skills development
  • Subsidised degrees.

Being able to readily and continually provide all of these—or pathways for these opportunities — is a powerful (andcost-saving) tool in a candidate-driven job market.

Employee benefits

On the other side of the coin, employees are given a pathway to career growth and an assurance of their value from their employers.

Personalisation

Learning pathways are a big proponent of the digital learning environment. They are essentially a guided grouping of courses that lead to a qualification, skillset or job role. Learning pathways are also a distinctly individualised approach to employee training, giving said employees control over their learning experience.

You can create predetermined pathways, for workforce planning activities like succession planning, or craft specific pathways to upskill or reskill employees. Thisgives meaning to courseworkand a reason for employees to engage with your carefully curated content. It also makes what might otherwise be a droll activity stimulating, which can drive self-directed study (and meaning your L&D team can take a hands-off approach to managing in-house education).

Demand-driven learning(i.e., learning that is based on a need) relies on a few components, including quality content, anticipated needs and authentic resources that reflect issues in an employee’s workplace. It also focuses on developingin-demand skills(a win for you, too). By creating pathways for your forecasted skills, your employees are given the gift of assured career growth with your organisation.

Flexibility

As far back as the ’90s, research showed thatmost adults prefer to take responsibilityfor their own education. Considering that self-directed learning pre-dates eLearning, we need to factor the former into our workplace L&D initiatives (no matter how modern).

If we also take into account that there are external factors that can facilitate or hamper a learner’s ability to learn (lifestyle, work, family, health, etc.), then eLearning becomes a much more enticing offering. Most online learning solutions are bring-your-own-device compatible, meaning employees can choose the times they access content where they want to. They’re not confined to a conference room or the office; at the same time, features like microlearning mean they can still snag a free moment in the workday to schedule in training. This means they’re more likely to engage with learning materials and get the most out of those resources, plus it helps:

  • Your employees feel their employer trusts and respects them. This goes a long way towards creating more loyal and invested employees.
  • To indoctrinatelearning as a choicein employees’ minds, not a requirement. This works to change learner behaviour as much as it does develop skillsets.

These advantages ultimately create more a resilient workforce, happier teams and, because of that more positive culture, help you to retain top talent.

How to successfully implement eLearning with the right platform

Some have argued that eLearning initiatives have failed wheretechnological determinism(or the idea that technology has an important effect on our lives) is used to drive buy-in. Others say just basing your value prop for an online learning solution on“the state of the world”can also be ineffective. Why exactly? Because either reasoning fails to give your learners a significant reason to engage with it.

If we go back to the benefits for employees (tailored training and anytime, anywhere access), then we can start to design a plan for marketing and executing an eLearning initiative. It all comes down to the right platform.

Infographic of the four steps to a successful elearning implementation

1. Define your employees’ needs

At this early stage, you want to understand exactly what your objectives are for eLearning. We recommend undertaking a skills gap analysis, whereby you:

  • Assess the skills your organisation currently possesses, specifically those that are lacking. Contrast these with your business goals to determine those that may expire or be missing entirely. Consider bothhard and soft skillsand talk to your mid-level managers here to get a detailed picture.
  • Analyse the job roles currently being performed against their contribution to your business goals. This enables you to understand key roles and the skills needed to perform them. Think about the tasks that may be automated and the skillsets that are in demand in your industry as well.
  • Define the interventions and number of interventions needed to address these gaps. What are the learning pathways needed? What kind of content? Do you expect a vast number of employees will need to upskill or reskill for certain roles?

You can then translate these into learning objectives. Be specific: “Upskill all marketing staff” is not an objective. “By X date, entire marketing team will have completed an SEO certification course” is an objective. An LMS can actually be useful at this stage, since it can show you KPIs such as learner progress and engagement rates.

Why a skills gap analysis is important

A key objective for the skills gap analysis is to ensure learning is meaningful, and therefore engaging for your learners. Learning for the sake of learning benefits no one, least of all the company coffers. In short, your aim here is to understand:

  1. The capabilities your employees will need to help them successfully perform their job roles and drive your business forward.
  2. The tools and resources required to enable this.

2. Choose the right platform

There are many eLearning platforms to choose from. For a more detailed run down, we’ve written acomprehensive guide,but we’ll discuss the three major tools for the sake of brevity here.

  • Learning management system (LMS). If you’re after a hub for both facilitating learning and reporting analytics, the LMS will be the solution for you. Many LMSs integrate with third party content providers likeLinkedIn LearningandSkillsoftgiving your employees access to a content catalogue of thousands. It’s also a good pick if you want to be able to integrate your learning repository with your internal systems such as your HR suite, to feed into your strategic workforce plans.
  • Learning content management system (LCMS). The added letter marks a big difference between the LCMS and LMS; the former is best for those who are looking to solely create and routinely revise theirown content.The focus is on managing and delivering content more efficiently. A key thing to note is the LCMS can handle SCORM compliant courses, which is important to create reusable learning assets.
  • Authoring tools. Where LMSs and LCMSs are entire software systems, authoring tools are programs. Generally, authoring tools are used to create SCORM or xAPI modules that are loaded into an LMS.

Beyond the type of platform, there’s also the consideration of vendor, industry they serve,compatibility with your browsers,hosting, and the features/functionality you require as well. Go back to those learning objectives derived from your skills analysis.

If you have a wide breadth of skillsets to cover (say, from cybersecurity in IT to client relationships in Sales), then you’ll likely want expertly created content from third party content providers to ensure you are compliant with industry regulations. If consistent analytics from learning are necessary to gauge progression and ensure you’re on track to meet objectives, then you’ll want a tool with astute reporting capabilities. Essentially: Your organisational needs will drive your choice of platform.

Why it’s crucial to choose the right platform

The wrong platform will get you off track from the start. It’ll drain your budget and employees’ enthusiasm for their own education. You could end up locked into a contract for a product that doesn’t meet your needs or paying for a service that is severely lacking. If it’s notuser-friendly,employees won’t use it no matter how much you push for it, and you won’t be able to keep on track with your learning objectives or business goals. So, yeah, it’s a pretty big deal to choose the right eLearning platform.

3. Create an implementation plan

Once you’ve landed on the eLearning solution that you believe is going to help you meet your goals, then it’s time to create an action plan. You’ll have to provide abudget to build stakeholder consensus(Hot tip: lean heavy into how your learning objectives will meet business goals), but you’ll also want to define a timeline and goals for successful implementation.

Create a project team

Who will be the change agents here? Who will represent your key departments—such as IT, L&D, People? These roles will ensure that each touchpoint of implementation will be successfully reached, such as internal messaging for users from marketing or system training for administrators from the vendor. It’ll also help define the resources needed to see out their tasks. Include end users here too and create initial surveys about what they’d want from an eLearning tool, so you can draw on their feedback.

Outline quality standards

Consider the performance metrics you have for evaluation and accountability purposes. Designing quality standards will keep the project team on track and ensure that any possible issues are avoided or quickly mitigated. It helps to ask if you are drawing up an entirely new process here or if there are procedures you can pull from for this implementation.

Look to other software that you may have adopted in the last few years, such as collaboration platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams, and note the lessons learned from those implementations. Outlining any potential risks will go a long way to ensuring stakeholder buy-in. Consider areas such as data migration, scope creep, disruption to workflows and compliance issues.

Organise your content

Consider the elements of content that will be crucial to achieving your objectives, rather than just the content itself. This includes learning pathways, course and program structures, and formatting (video, lectures, readings and the like). It may seem strange to do this once you’ve decided on a platform—but even with an LMS, you’ll have to opt in for third party content. Plus, if you’re creating your own, you’ll want to have it ready for when said LMS goes live.

Keep the following considerations in mind:

  • Learning pathways: Connecting courses by categories and complexity allows you to create customised training plans for employees. This can be a more efficient use of learning resources, as it eliminates unnecessary coursework, gets you thinking about the flow of courses, and can fast-track progression.
  • Structure: Is this the only way you’ll offer training, or are you in a position to blend it with face-to-face methods? This is a non-negotiable for some industries, but for others, it pays to think about those methods of job-related education for which the human touch is inherent, like mentoring.
  • Format: You can create assets of all kinds for eLearning, particularly when it’sxAPIor SCORM conformant.Both can be seen as reading materials, videos, audio files and lectures, and what makes them key is that they a) allow you to track learning data more easily and b) place the burden of complexity on the LMS or like system.

Infographic showing five strategies for an elearning implementation

4. Run a test cohort

Depending on the solution and provider, you may be able to run a test launch with a select group of employees on your chosen platform. This will help iron out any niggles (and can be used as part of your risk quality assurances) before the masses are complaining about any constraints. Utilise surveys again at this stage to gauge everything from how the system makes them feel and how easy it is to navigate to how challenging the content is.

Why you want to test the waters

Not only will running your eLearning solution through a test group ensure that you have picked the right platform and identify any problems before they get out of hand, but it also gives you a point of reference for tracking your KPIs. A good tip is to ask the same questions once the solution is fully implemented and compare the two sets of answers. Evaluating the future value and effectiveness of your eLearning solution will come down to these baseline markers.

In conclusion

Elearning is powerful tool for employee development and business growth. By delivering learning and development through digital means, you give your employees equal access to education opportunities. Introducing it into your workplace will only open the door to a plethora of benefits, such as:

  • Decreased training overheads
  • Personalised and flexible access
  • More efficient internal processes
  • Sustainable business investments
  • Increased compliance
  • A universal understanding of business values and goals
  • Better retention rates
  • More engaged and loyal employees.

There are several eLearning platforms you could choose from, from the content-focused LCMS and straightforward authoring tools to the all-encompassing LMS. Successfully implementing a solution comes down to understanding what your people need in order to be effective employees in your organisation. Work through:

  1. Analysing the skills gap in your organisation
  2. Defining learning objectives
  3. Choosing the platform that supports your goals
  4. Creating an air-tight action plan
  5. Running a test cohort before you go live.

Ultimately, you’ll want to think through the process of implementing an online learning solution carefully to realise the benefits. When tailored to your organisation, eLearning can help you create meaningful learning objectives to tap business rewards in your workplace.

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